The Checkout

We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us

Recently, I've had a couple of shopping experiences that have made me wonder who's to blame for the rude store clerks we so like to complain about.

Experience 1: I was in a long queue at the express checkout of my local supermarket. There were two express lines, and one got hung up as a shopper disputed a price. I was lucky; that non-moving line wasn't mine. My line crept forward and soon it was my turn. In the next line, though, there still remained a man who had been waiting long before I had gotten to the checkout. I motioned to him to go to the front of my line. He did and brusquely marched out of the store, without even a thank-you or nod to me. Even the clerk in my line commented on the customer's lack of manners.

Experience 2: A couple of days later, I was in a crafts store. I discovered that the coupon I had brought with me was not valid for the item I was buying. Since it expired that same day, I turned to the couple behind me and asked if they could use it. "Sure," they said as they grabbed the coupon. That was it. Again, not a single thank-you, not even a muttered one.

So close together, these two incidents raise this question: "If we, as customers, can't be nice to one another, how can we expect store clerks to treat us respectfully?" I can only think of Pogo.

Any thoughts?

By  |  May 4, 2006; 6:00 AM ET Customer Service
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Comments

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I think this is a casualty of living in the D.C. area. Folks in different cities (on the West coast especially, but even in New York!) are much more polite.

Maybe it's the traffic!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 4, 2006 7:14 AM

Sometimes when someone is insensitive in the way you describe (neglected to say "Thank you"), I just say "You're welcome" anyway, in a neutral tone of voice. Often they perk up and say, "Oh...thank you" sheepishly. Sometimes not, but at least you can distinguish between the intentional and unintentional rudeness.

Posted by: Ricki | May 4, 2006 8:41 AM

Good Morning,
It seems to me that civility and good manners have hit a new time low.
Here is another example, I'll often wave cars to get in front of me and no one ever waves back to acknowledge this.
Its time we all remembered and acted on the golden rule.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 4, 2006 8:45 AM

I agree that the DC area may be a little worse than other parts of the country in terms of simple courtesies and civilities. However, I think the United States as a whole is undergoing an alarming decline in common courtesy. I live in Norfolk, VA and we are certainly not immune from rudeness. I recently asked a young woman in the grocery store to refrain from cursing loudly into her cell phone. She then proceeded to curse at me even more loudly than before. Store management declined to get involved. I have quit patronizing that particular grocery store. I am afraid that this kind of disregard for others is almost pandemic in our society.

Posted by: Anne Richardson | May 4, 2006 8:47 AM

Well I am not 100% sure all manners are dead, but those incidents makes one sit up, take notice, and reflect: bad manners have an affect on people. I don't want to feel way that or make others feel that way. Of course there is the small emotion called empthy.

I wonder what the age of these people were? Are they the children of boomers?

Posted by: Marko | May 4, 2006 8:52 AM

It seems as though there is some surprise that store clerks are as rude or polite as the general population. Clerks are not a different species of hominids; many customers have been or are currently store clerks. If a person is polite as a customer, most likely that person would be polite as a store clerk.

Posted by: CP | May 4, 2006 9:02 AM

I've encountered many more rude, insolent sales clerks than customers in my life. One stands out in my mind: a cashier at a large supermarket chain (the initial is G)near Hyattsville, MD talked to the cashier at the next register during my entire check-out, didn't even look at me or acknowledge me or say a word to me. She slammed my change into my hand at the end and continued talking to the other cashier. Fortunately, I moved away from that area and no longer deal with that insolent cashier or that store. Now I live in a smaller town where everybody knows (or is related to) everybody else. Customers are their bread and butter, and criticism about their service can spread quickly.

Then there's the peeve of clerks being on telephones (mostly personal calls) while waiting on customers.

BTW -- I often let people ahead of me in line if they only have a couple items. They always respond with a "Thank you." Then there was the clerk at Michaels who clued me into a nearby yarn shop that I didn't know about when I bought some knitting goods from her store. Cheers to the occasional friendly human being.

Posted by: BB | May 4, 2006 9:05 AM

It all begins with kids. I stop my children in their tracks until they properly look the person in the eye and say thank you. At the pool, we are leaving, the kids say thank you to the life guard as we leave. My 4 y.o. got 3 shots at the pediatrician the other day. I tell him that the nurse is keeping us safe and healthy with the shots. OUCH! those needles hurt, he was in tears, and stammered in between catching his breath.."...thank you!" So, there it is. What a good boy I said, and I was proud that I taught him that simple courtesy and thanking people is the right way. Thank you for bringing this to readership attention!

JP

Posted by: JP | May 4, 2006 9:20 AM

I recognize the grocery store folks at the store we frequent Belle View Safeway. One day when it was crazy busy in the store, I was blessed to have Ruth as my cashier. She was fast, courteuous, and doing everything possible to get us out fast. I make a point to always say hello and make sure if she's there, I go through her line. I don't have a problem with anyone else at the store, but I'm always confident I'll be taken care of by Ruth.

OBTW - If you visit the Springfield Butcher enough, Mike remembers your name. The meat is great. They sell seafood also and the place doesn't smell like fish.

Frequent stores that give good service. The pleasant environment rubs off on the customers also.

Posted by: Patrick Bossman | May 4, 2006 9:21 AM

I work two customer service jobs (one full-time, one part-time) and go out of my way to be friendly - same as in life. I don't like conflict, and I treat each person with respect, but sometimes, its hard. People like to scream and shout about seemingly small things, most of which I have no control over and often my politness is not met with the same. There are plenty of friendly, polite people, and I am thankful for themthem, if i can go out of my way to be extra helpful -- I will. But if you come at me in a rude manner, my desire to help you diminishes. I still help the rude people-- its my job, and i am still as nice as I can be, but working in customer service slowly chips away at your soul. I don't think anyone in customer service should be rude, but neither should the customers.

Personally I think everyone should work just one day in a customer service job - just to understand what the other side is like. Maybe people would have a little more heart when dealing with us.

Posted by: customer service fool | May 4, 2006 9:26 AM

I hate rude people and that includes those who do not acknowledge random acts of kindness with a simple "thank you." However, we should not make this a quid pro quo situation. If you want to do something nice (and I often do), just do it. If the other person is rude, that is their problem. We must not lower ourselves to their level!

Posted by: Sandy | May 4, 2006 9:26 AM

If my wife, an elementary school teacher, is correct, we are doomed to another generation of rude and disrespectful adults. The lack of common courtesies like 'thank you' and 'excuse me' is disheartening and it is clear that these are lessons learned (or not taught) by their parents. It does not seem to be a socioeconmic issue, either, since her Fairfax County school runs the gamut from Section 8 housing to million dollar homes. I concur, however, that a lot of these seems like a DC thing since I see much less of this behaviour when I travel down south or to the midwest.

Posted by: Lester Burnham | May 4, 2006 9:31 AM

Manners are on a decline because we have allowed children and adults to assume an attitude of entitlement. Everyone is entitled to something better, the parking space, the coupon, the better space in line, traffic, you name it. Just don't give in to these people, I sure don't.

Posted by: consumer x | May 4, 2006 9:32 AM

It's sad, but I'm shocked whenever I encounter a really nice/polite cashier, customer service rep, etc. - or even a "civilian" that takes time out to hold the door for you as you walk behind them (people in my apartment building are ALWAYS slamming the door on whoever's behind them!), say "Thank you," etc.

I say "Thank you" and "Please" all the time, but honestly sometimes I feel like a sucker for doing so when everyone around me is often so rude in return. However, when I do decide to give in and be rude along with everyone else, it doesn't make me feel good or triumphant or anything. It makes me feel bad. It fills me with negativity.

Posted by: SunshineGirl | May 4, 2006 9:41 AM

Store mgmt. is partly responsible for rude behavior. It's the exception rather than the rule when I can go thru a checkout line without a 'price check' for the customers in front of me, or for myself.
Complaints to Redners mgmt. go unheeded!

Posted by: Dennis | May 4, 2006 9:41 AM

Why does Marko ask if these rude people are the children of Baby Boomers? My BB children have manners and we have six mannered grandchildren. Of course, we come from MN "nice".
My number one complaint about shopping rudeness is when the price at the checkout doesn't match the advertised or shelf price. Once, after watching an elderly couple deal with this by paying, after counting change, I informed the clerk that if any of my items came up with a higher price the store was keeping all of it. $200 worth of Christmas shopping was left on her counter when the third item came up higher. I apologized to the people behind me, packed it all into the cart and left it in the store. I have done this on several occasions and refuse to shop in those stores that can't give the customer the simple courtesy of posting the right price or practice the outright discourtesy of advertising a sale price that you don't get at checkout.
LF

Posted by: Lois Frieden | May 4, 2006 9:41 AM

I have lived in Massachusetts, Virginia, southern Virginia and now Missouri. Rudeness is not necessarily endemic to a region, just as "southern" manners are not confined to the south.

However, in your discussion, you mentioned the "manager" did nothing about a situation you encountered. This, to me, is critical. Many businesses focus so much on the bottom line, not realizing the effect of good customer service affects it in the long term. There are circumstances where managers are just happy their staff showed up, let alone do a good, thorough or effective job. That is the only rational explanation for businesses tolerating rude or inconsistent performance from their staff.

Many times, my family WILL seek out management and politely point out that certain behaviors from their staff will effect whether or not we will frequent their establishment. We never denigrade the employee -- we put the responsibility of the store's success squarely on management's shoulders.

Posted by: M in Columbia MO | May 4, 2006 9:42 AM

That's the DC area. More self-centered attitude-filled rude people than anywhere else in the country, in my experience. I can't wait to retire and leave this hellhole.

Once every few years I get to return to my alma matar and give a little informal visit with students studying to work in my field. They seem so eager to work in the DC area. It pains me to tell them both the good and the bad sides, but it's the truth -- there are more a--holes per capita in the DC area than anywhere else in the US.

Posted by: Frank | May 4, 2006 9:47 AM

Frank

You are soooo right!!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 4, 2006 9:57 AM

Ordinarily I will go to great lengths to avoid shopping in big stores between Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, a few years ago one of my daughters made a specific request shortly before Christmas. I took a deep breath and ventured into the Pentagon City Costco. After having loaded a down duvet and a few other items into my cart, I decided to take a look at the books. Because that aisle can be especially congested, I parked my cart in an out-of-the-way spot. When I returned, in perhaps five minutes, the merchandise had been dumped on the floor and my cart was gone. That sort of experience is one of the reasons I left the Washington area.

Posted by: Happy in Rochester | May 4, 2006 9:58 AM

Isn't it more than a bit droll that we can so easily se the blind spots of others but not our own.

I refer, of course, to the act of letting someone in line ahead of you. I infer from context here that others were waiting behind the letter-in and were therefore rudely forced to join in her faux graciousness.

Tsk tsk and tut tut, my dear.

Posted by: Bill Burke on blind spots | May 4, 2006 10:20 AM

In California shoppers are at the mercy of rude store checkers. I refuse to shop at "Trader Joe's" a chain I have shopped at for many years because a checker accused me of being rude to her using profane language. When I complained in writing I never received a response.

Posted by: Dorothy | May 4, 2006 10:38 AM

Boy, Lois, that's harsh. A wrong price is a mistake, not a rudeness. Prices are set at headquarters, and there can be 100 price changes that happen all on the same day. The fact that the sign people didn't get one of those correct is a mistake, not a rudeness. The cashier and the manager should apologize and give you the correct price. Then you should be gracious and accept their apology.

Posted by: John | May 4, 2006 10:44 AM

I recently moved to Las Vegas from Gaithersburg. People here, for the most part are much friendly. The grocery store clerks at my neighborhood Albertson's are always are friendly. Once, I noticed that an item wasn't ringing up the right price. I don't normally like to complain, but it was ringing 10 dollars more than it was marked. Instead of holding up the entire line for a price check, the teller apologised profusely and gave it to me for free. Wow. It's the little things that matter; especially when you have four different grocery stores to chose from.

Posted by: Jenny | May 4, 2006 10:53 AM

That was rather rude to allow someone not in line to cut in front of everyone else standing there. If you were truly being gracious you should have swamped places with the person and moved to the line that wasn't moving. You should have thank everyone in line for not complaining when you did that! I believe the expression - Let not the pot call the kettle black! applies here.

Posted by: Ana | May 4, 2006 10:56 AM

California food chains have programed their worker bees to be curtious, it makes a big difference even though you know they dont mean it....Crown Princess Cruise lines have signs in all employee stair wells on the ships stating " always address guests with good morning, afternoon or good evening whenever making contact with guests." My wife ,the travel agent was surprised. "I thought they,the ships' crew really ment it."

Posted by: dominick | May 4, 2006 10:58 AM

Well I think 'blind spots' has a point. The checkout line is not a merge lane.

It's nice if everyone is cordial while standing in line, but you really don't know where others are coming from.

Sometimes it's best just to behave yourself and reserve judgement on others.

Posted by: RoseG | May 4, 2006 10:59 AM

Letting people in line ahead of me --- I meant to say if I am the only person in line at the grocery store and I have a cart full, then I will let someone ahead of me if they have only a few items. I certainly would NOT try that if several people are behind me -- every other person in the area is armed and I will not be shot in the grocery store.

Posted by: BB | May 4, 2006 10:59 AM

I have to say it's not just DC, but most of the East Coast, where you feel tense and unrelaxed by most shopping or service activities. Mostly because the people helping you in the stores:

a) don't get enough rest or breaks; working 7 hours on your feet with one 15 minute break is very difficult and would make most people cranky, especially those working two jobs. Plus the traffic, and raising children without help of extended families, crazy work hours, plus worry about healthcare,etc. life in america is very hard on the individual.

b)in my experience the average *urban* high school graduate without any higher studies is less educated, less sensible, oftentimes has a poorer work ethic than a high school graduate without higher education in Europe or India or China. An Indian in the 10th grade learns calculus; Italian high school graduates know more about world politics than some people in my office. They are given more responsibilities and expected to mature more quickly. 18 means 18. Not like my colleague's 30 year old daughter that has two children, does not go to work, does not do housework or prepare healthy meals, or read or play with her children. instead she talks on the phone, watches soap operas, and goes drinking with friends, weekends at the beach,etc. leaving her children with grandma. last month after her husband insisted she get a job, she is now a customer service representative at Comcast. She is not going to be any more diligent in helping customers than she is in taking care of her family.

c) businesses hire people with poor language and people skills to fill front line positions (customer service, check out clerk, etc.)

So I get "Roseanne Conner" when I am dealing with the scheduler at the furniture delivery company, I get a CVS checkout clerk that could not care less about how many people are in line, gossips on the phone, and feels the job he is doing is beneath him, and an Ethiopian checkout clerk at Rodman's that doesn't speak any English (okay fine) but then gets frustrated with me, because she doesn't know how to correct the grocery tape that clearly shows she charged me 8 times for 4 containers of yogurt. She gets angry, and belligerent, because she is frustrated by her lack of knowledge....i'm just standing there wondering why i need to be treated badly because she doesn't know what she's doing. At least apologize and ask for a little patience. I would be okay with that.

It's all about attitude. There is very little sincerity in any of these encounters, or respect, partly because they think they are entitled to so much more than being a clerk. Well I'm sorry you are a clerk, if you are unhappy make some changes. At least that's how I, an immigrant, look at it. I get coffee at dunkin donuts everyone morning owned by a korean family, and that place is sparkling clean, extremely efficient, and even if they don't speak english, they will smile, and work eagerly with you (cruller, cruller....is it this? no this? this one? Oh good choice! Thank you so much! Have a nice day!) He wraps a knife and fork up into a napkin before pleating the sides, folding the top and handing me the bag.

That guy is going to be a millionaire some day.

Posted by: not impatient, just amazed | May 4, 2006 11:01 AM

un-civil act is everywhere even amongst people you interact with daily. I work in an office and every morning would greet the security officer but never get an acknowledgement. For a while I thought maybe she couldn't hear me but that was not the case. Eventually I stop saying good morning. Lately I have gone back to the greetings because that is how I was thought. I believe it comes from how you are brought up. Saying hello to people you meet or thank you is the most simplemest thing you can do but unfortunately found out not to be the case. I would hope parents can teach their children and hopefully it will grow up with them

Posted by: Anonymous | May 4, 2006 11:13 AM

Excellent points - "not impatient."

Again, it comes down to Management is responsible for the success of the store -- all the decisions they make, including who they hire, how they train them, and how much support is given front line staff all rests on their shoulders.

Posted by: M in Columbia MO | May 4, 2006 11:18 AM

I try to be friendly with service people (checkout clerks, fast food cashiers, etc.) always. If they mess up, I do require them to fix the error, but I try to stay friendly. After all, 1) it might not be their fault, 2) most are young and inexperienced, 3) everyone is entitled to a bad day now and then, and 4) that dopey youngster might be running your nursing home someday.

I am amazed, though, how many customers treat them like robots if they do a good job, and like dirt if they mess up. Would you want someone to treat your teenager that way?

Posted by: dmm | May 4, 2006 11:19 AM

Well as a person born and reared in the city, I don't beleive it is the natives that are rude..It's the folks that come from other places that work on the Hill and other places, that think they can do whatever they want, whenever they want..It starts at home and sadly alot of us aren't doing our jobs as parents. "Attitudes are contageous, is yours worth catching??" -Cliffie T

Posted by: Cliffie T | May 4, 2006 11:20 AM

Caroline,

While I'm sure you think you were being nice to the person you let in ahead of you, you could also be viewed as being rude to the people who were in line behind you. Did you ask the people behind you if it was ok if someone else got ahead of them too? How would have you felt if the person you let in also had a dispute over a price and then held your line up? I can tell you that if I got behind you in the line because I was in a hurry and it looked like your line was moving and then it stopped because of someone you let in ahead of us, I'd remind you that you were not the only person who was in line.

Posted by: ABH | May 4, 2006 11:22 AM

To "not important, just amazed"

Your view is part of the problem. I am an Urban Highschool Graduate and Other than my computer training, have not had other education..What does that have to do with rudeness? It's that mentality that you just described, that is the rudest of all..Because what it says is that your somehow better that these folks..YOUR NOT!!
And I think your attitude probably comes accross to every one you come in contact with in customer service, that you think is just a highschool graduate..You should never assume anything about persons that you do not know..I am in no way defending bad customer service, but to make blanket statements and assumptions that someone is somehow less intelligent is dangerous..

Posted by: Cliffie T | May 4, 2006 11:31 AM

maybe the start of civility is to not call others a**holes. Just an idea. If you think you are surrounded by a**holes it is hard to approach those around you with courtesy and respect. It is not about geography it is about your attitude toward yourself and others.

Posted by: eileen | May 4, 2006 11:32 AM

Caroline, your concerns are extremely well placed. Moreover, statements above accusing you of rudeness for letting the other customer pass in front of you in line are indicative of the problem. Whenever anyone pulls out the old "you're no better, hypocrite" argument, it's because they don't care very much for the real argument -- which is that all of us (including, by implication, the people behind you in line) should WANT to treat each other kindly. What these posters are essentially saying is that they would have felt badly treated if they had been behind you in line, because unlike you they would not have wanted to let the other customer in. And I think that is just as troubling as the fact that the customer you let in didn't say thank-you.

For what it's worth, I am a young person, and I perceive that this behavior is more common among other young people. Or rather, I should say, that I think the problem is pronounced when rude people are around others whom they consider "peers" or even "below them," as opposed to people of more stature. In other words, I think young people are ruder to other young people than they are to adults. By the same token, I recently observed an 50-ish "gentleman" in a bagel shop otherwise full of college students walk directly to the front of a long line and start ordering, apparently because he thought that all of us young people in line were less important than he was. (The college-aged clerk even let him do so, later apologizing to the rest of us; apparently, she thought it would be impolite to tell "an adult" to get in line, like she might have done to a kid.)

"Good upbrining" does not the difference make. I know siblings from great families (raised by wonderfully polite parents, with similar experiences growing up) who are like night and day when it comes to how they treat others. I almost want to say that the problem is genetic, it seems so un-explainable. But, in a more immediate way, I will agree with another poster that the problem is related to different levels of empathy that the siblings seem capable of.

I learned at an early age to think -- in a very conscious way -- about my actions and how they might be perceived by others, in order to not hurt those around me. As a Christian child, I specifically learned to ask "what would Jesus do?" long before that phrase was on bumper stickers, and as an atheist adult, I still ask that question. Thing is, I don't think very many people care.

Posted by: John | May 4, 2006 11:37 AM

I gotta agree with Sandy on this one. I can only control MY actions - not the actions (or reactions) of others. I will continue to let cars merge into my lane, say good morning to surly security guards and other random acts of kindness because it makes ME feel better.

After all, it IS all about me in this town - right?

Posted by: Springfield | May 4, 2006 11:48 AM

Hey Cliff T - I didn't read "not impatient's" comment the same way you did.

What I interpreted was the type of education offered in some other places includes a responsibility toward others aspect that is sorely missing in many of US schools. Our schools are too busy teaching to the test, rather than teaching people to think.

You exemplify a person who has learned how to think, rationalize and make appropriate decisions -- more of the European model of education. But many schools here are teaching young people to be robotic in response without thinking about what they are doing.

I'm sorry if you were offended by my response to "not impatient" because I never intended to support the argument you interpreted. Far from it!

Posted by: M in Columbia MO | May 4, 2006 11:48 AM

The rudest people I've dealt with are at the Post Office. I vote with my pocketbook and do almost ALL of my office business with UPS now. The extra expense is well worth the excellent and courteous service!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 4, 2006 11:52 AM

I love all of the things people are bringing up..especially about the entitlement issues. We are all in this together, and we all desire a level of respect. If we give people the leve of respect that they deserve as human beeing...it will have a positive effect on them and inturn encourage them to give the same repsect to others. We as people must inspire and incourge this point to other around us, because it is the only real way we are going to see change on a larger scale in the world around us!!!

Posted by: great points | May 4, 2006 11:57 AM

I would agree with Lois Frieden that perhaps this is not a generational issue. And after reading these posts, well more like scanning. I think there is a more global view to be expressed.

The Balkanization of our nation: choice vs. life, right vs. left, blue vs. red, pro-immigration vs. drown them in the Rio Grande, working mothers vs. stay at home moms, $800 strollers vs. single moms working at a check out, etc speaks to another issue. At one time we all had one set of manners for everyone taught by parents (who today need parent coaches), teachers, uncles, aunts, store clerks, etc. It is my opinion based on my premise that manners are reserved for those from my "Balkan' nation. You know that cool handshake, the country club membership, organic diaper service, etc.

Posted by: Marko | May 4, 2006 12:04 PM

Marko

I'm confused - what is your point?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 4, 2006 12:10 PM

I've only had stellar experiences with employees at Wegmans and Trader Joe's. In response to a quick question, they've put down what they're doing and walked me to where something I was looking for was located, or gone to the manager and inquired for me when a delivery was expected to come in. They are always attentive and cheerful. I've often wondered if those stores pay their employees better than Giant, Safeway or Shoppers, because they are somehow able to be choosier about their employees.

Posted by: jwp | May 4, 2006 12:10 PM

I recently mailed a birthday gift to my sister via USPS "Priority" mail. She never received it. I paid extra for this service and have no recourse or do I? I can't track it like with Fed Ex or UPS. I am partly angry with myself for choosing the USPS. I will NEVER mail a package using them again. I wouldn't recommend ANYBODY else does either. If there is no recourse for me, isn't this sort of a passive form of rudeness. It tells me that they just don't care!

Posted by: PO'd at the PO | May 4, 2006 12:19 PM

I realized recently after waving at someone who let me merge, that the back window of our somewhat newly purchased car is tinted, and therefore the person couldn't see me wave. I feel bad about this. I DO wave at people if they let me in, I'm just afraid they can't see me!

Posted by: Driving Courtesy | May 4, 2006 12:21 PM

My point is that manners are not a universal deliverable by everyone to everyone. Empathy knowing how you want to be treated and treating someone likewise.

We only offer manners to those deemed 'acceptable'. Sorry to be obtuse.

Posted by: Marko | May 4, 2006 12:24 PM

My number one pet peeve is the rudeness I see in children -- most children, sadly. When my child's friends come to my house and I say, Hi Johnny, How are you today?, they usually just give me a vacant stare instead of a reply. And their phone manners are even worse! I can't tell you how many times children call my house and demand "who is this?" when I answer the phone. What kills me is you just know their parents are standing right there next to them and do absolutely nothing to correct the behavior. I insist that my children use their best manners at all times. Adults often remark about my kids' good manners, which warms my heart on the one hand, but saddens me on the other hand -- when did politeness stop being the norm? Listen up, parents!! Please emphasize the importance of politeness to your children. These are important social skills that will serve them well in life. You are doing them a huge disservice if you neglect this!

Posted by: Georgetown | May 4, 2006 12:28 PM

Hey PO'd at the PO: Don't get mad at the Post Office because you used the wrong service. You should have sent it Insured and asked for Delivery Confirmation or Registered Mail. If you asked the person at the post office, "This is valuable, how should I ship it," then that's one thing. But if you didn't bother to ask, you can't really blame anyone but yourself. Don't be mad at the USPS because they didn't read your mind.

Posted by: educate yourself | May 4, 2006 12:34 PM

Not that I don't understand the substance of the topic, but couldn't it be that sometimes people are having bad days and simply aren't being who they would be under "normal," more relaxed circumstances? None of us lives the life of others, yet we assume that because WE are comfortable at a certain moment, so others should be also. There's no excuse for flat-out rudeness, but in my view, life is too short to get so caught up in these experiences that we develop grand notions of "we're getting more and more rude." As a previous poster said, be nice because you want to be nice, and forget the rest. Life is for the living. Observe, yes, but then MOVE ON.

Posted by: Leslie Townsend | May 4, 2006 12:34 PM

"I can only think of Pogo."

That's a pretty broad thought -- any particular part of Pogo? I'll take a guess: "We is met the enemy, and he is us"?

Posted by: Burke | May 4, 2006 12:34 PM

eileen,

you wrote:

"maybe the start of civility is to not call others a**holes. Just an idea. If you think you are surrounded by a**holes it is hard to approach those around you with courtesy and respect. It is not about geography it is about your attitude toward yourself and others."

I don't go around calling people names. I do treat others with normal courtesy (which I'd say is a rarity around here). I've got no complaints about my neighbors and coworkers. However, in public, where people are mostly anonymous, people in the DC area are ruder than in any other city in the US. At least that's my experience. I don't think my attitude is causing that. If you've not experienced this, I'd say you're lucky.

Posted by:

Posted by: Frank | May 4, 2006 12:36 PM

I have to agree with those who think that it's rude to let someone from another check-out line get in front of him/her if he/she isn't the only one on line. I mean, if it's okay to let one person cut in line, then letting two people cut in line should be twice as good, right? And what three or four people or more? Or if it would be wrong to let a whole crowd cut in front of you, I would appreciate it if someone could show me the rule that says exactly how many people I can let cut in line ahead of me without being inconsiderate of the people behind me on line.

I don't think that it makes sense to say that we should treat others as we wish to be treated, because the way that I would love to be treated would be for me to be given all of my groceries for free, and that's not gonna happen! I would also love it if everyone who saw me on the street gave me one hundred dollars, but that's not gonna happen either. So does that mean that I should give everyone on the street one hundred dollars because I would just love it if they did that for me?

Posted by: Shopper | May 4, 2006 12:45 PM

A previous poster mentioned that consumers have lost their manners because they are drunk on their feeling of entitlement.

Go to any of the particular Swedish home furnishing stores in the Washington/Baltimore area and you will encounter customers who do not only feel entitled to do whatever they want within the store, but apparently also have a feeling of ownership of items they have yet to purchase.

They open packages and rummage inside, they break things and leave it, they climb shelving to pull down displays thus endangering themselves and any who happen by, they leave their garbage on the floor or on a shelf not 3 feet from a waste disposal center.

My theory? Americans are spoiled brats who have taken the idea of entitlement to a whole new level. They feel they are entitled to do what they want, when they want because "the customer is always right" regardless of the fact that they most likely wouldn't tolerate those actions if they were being copied by their child.

Common courtesy is a subject quickly fading from the american lexicon. In a world of "Now Now Now", "I want", and "Gimme"... please and thank you are dust in the wind.

Posted by: James | May 4, 2006 12:55 PM

I sense that in the DC area there are too many people that have a sense of entitlement and do not feel that they are bound by the rules that the rest of us live by. There is the attitude I want to do what I want to do and everyone else is nothing more than an obstacle. You see it in the way people drive, how they push their way onto the Metro, how they walk 5 across on K street and force people walking the other way into the street to avoid them. With each of these little indiginities, we are all stripped of a piece of our humanity. I believe it is all additive and overtime we get just a little more angry and intolerant of others. In the end, this is what I believe is the cause of road rage and other acts of senseless violence.

My uncle just visited from California and made a comment on how rude Washingtonians are. The rest of the country may be less polite, but Washingtonians seem to make rudeness an art form. This is where I work, but it will not be where I retire. I see people walk out of a function where they have donated thousands of dollars to a needy charity and they proceed to drive home with contempt and disregard for those that they share the city -- very ironic! I think it is important that we all stand our ground and don't give in to these indignities and identify these actions when they occur; otherwise, we all will begin to lose our humanity and become the very thing that we so dislike. The would be the unkindest cut!

Posted by: jiaid | May 4, 2006 12:56 PM

I moved from a rural area outside of Pittsburgh to DC years ago and noticed the lack of interaction and lack of manners in the DC area. I thought it was because of crowds. Now that I'm back in the Pittsburgh area, I'm glad that people in my community know my name and are so polite. In fact, sometimes I have to politely cut short the banter at the grocery store to get home. Not that rudeness doesn't occur here, but the slower pace of life seems to definitely put things in perspective. If we don't treat others kindly, how do we expect them to treat us?

Posted by: Pitt | May 4, 2006 12:57 PM

Quit expecting a positive response (gratitude) for what you do.

Posted by: Get used to it | May 4, 2006 12:59 PM

To M in Columbia, MO...

None taken!! I just want people to known that, not everybody who didn't go to college is less intelligent..Most times it's an affordability issue..I know plenty of folks with degrees that don't know "Sh*t from Shinola"..We as humans just need to cut each other some slack..But we do need to teach our children manners. I have been in stores where children have practically knocked me down, that have not said excuse me and there parents where there and said nothing to them.. So I say to the parents, you need to check your kids, especially when you see the behavior for yourself!! Otherwise the kids will think it's ok!!

Posted by: Cliffie T | May 4, 2006 1:05 PM

To the commenter who lets cars pull in front of her and doesn't get a thank you wave - I personally feel safer when I keep both hands on the wheel when I change lanes, especially in heavy traffic. I wave back when I can, but sometimes it just doesn't work out. I imagine that other people don't wave for the same reason.

Posted by: CP | May 4, 2006 1:08 PM

Cliff T,
Please forgive if you found my comment elitist. Please understand I was comparing high school graduates in the U.S. to High School graduates abroad. In most countries, college is not the norm, so please don't think I am assuming that only university educated people are intelligent. Far from it as I have noticed in professional life.

I'm talking more about sensibility and attitude. In my original post I said "most urban" HS grads without higher eduation have less skills than most urban HS grads in Europe, India, and China (these are the three countries i have first hand information on, so that's why it's my point of reference.) This is because college is not the norm, and you get most of the skills you need in life in high school. The american education system and society in general does not give its students that.

And by less skills I mean, they don't function in a way that makes sense. If I want to know where clam juice is, saying "I don't know" and then turning back to what they are doing doesn't make sense.
There is a general lack of work ethic in the service sector, and it could be they are not paid enough to care. But I have lived here long enough (22 years) to know that attitude and respect for hard work are part of the problem. If anyone thinks I am snob, because I expect sincerity and hard work, so be it.

Posted by: not impatient, just amazed | May 4, 2006 1:10 PM

I travel all around the country and find that people are about the same everywhere once you take variosu factors into account. Sure, small towns where everyone knows each other can be more friendly, but that can often be surficial. Move into one of those close knit communities and you may find it hard to break in. i suspect the same may be true about close knit neighborhoods. I find NYC, Boston, San Diego, LA, and San Francisco about the same as D.C. And my mother from Nebraska, who now lives in Denver, thinks folks here are wonderful. Mostly because they actually let drivers merge.

Most people are simply overwhelmed by the constant stream of new faces they encounter everyday and unless they actively practice being friendly, it's just easier to ignore each other. That doesn't make it right, but I think it is part of human nature.

Posted by: dan | May 4, 2006 1:10 PM

Hey Frank

There is no need for you to defend calling some people in D.C a**holes, if that is the unvarnished truth.

The greatest per capita a**holes I have met were in law school! I don't think I'll get a lecture on that observation.......

Posted by: Anonymous | May 4, 2006 1:19 PM

To "not impatient, just amazed"

I understand fully what you're saying now, and I agree. You wouldn't believe however; the people who are snobs and make those types of statements, I see it all the time..Most people that I interact with in a professional setting always ask from which college did I graduate..They are a little befuddled when I tell them that, I'm just Highschool educated..But as far the rudeness of people, it's what my grandmother used to call "Home Training", and there seems to be a lack of that..Work ethic also comes from Home Training and some people never get it!!!

So, I don't think your a snob, that was just my take on it from my experience and prospective..

Posted by: Cliffie T | May 4, 2006 1:21 PM

C'mon....i'ts not like you donated a kidney to these folks. Your kindness should have been acknowledged, but only by a simple "thanks," if anything at all.

Posted by: Leo | May 4, 2006 1:29 PM

Re: The auto-wave.

Not only do I wave them in, but after they wave to me, I wave back as my way of saying "You're welcome!"

Oh yeah, if you would also use your turn signal to let me know you want to merge, I might have opened up a wider space vs. having slam on my brakes in order to avoid hitting you. You have a turn signal, use it! Oh, wait, this probably isn't the right forum, is it? ;)

Posted by: Sam F. | May 4, 2006 1:36 PM

To Sam F.

If you use a turn-signal in the DC area, that signals the other cars to speed up and not let you in....Unfortunately, you have to get in quickly if you can....LOL

Posted by: Cliffie T | May 4, 2006 1:42 PM

The worst is when there is only one open line at the pharmacy or wherever, and a second lane opens. People from the back of the original line jump right in, even though the people at the front have been waiting far longer.

Manners in America are far better than those I have observed in my travels to other parts of the world, though.

Posted by: Bob | May 4, 2006 1:48 PM

I need to post. As both a polite person, and a former retail worker, I can attest to both sides. The worst part of this trend is that when I walk into a store, most workers make me feel like a burden, or an annoyance. This is particularly true of fast food places. You will hear swearing, fighting, and basically anything else, and that includes managers. Nothing ticks me off more than to go into a McDonalds and have the cashier, french fry cook, and burger guy all swearing at each other and laughing like it's a party, and I'm treated like the inconvenience.


The problem isn't with the rude people, because they will always outweigh the polite. It's that most people are caught up in themselves, and don't have time to bother with simple courtesy.

Posted by: Cosmo | May 4, 2006 1:53 PM

I think that a lot of the rudeness we see everyday is due to population density. We all know about those studies scientists performed with rats many years ago : How overcrowding causes dysfunctional behavior. Depending upon the stressors one encounters in the course of a day it's understandable why people don't always behave well. I try to be considerate of others, but when I've had a bad day it isn't always easy to remember that.

Posted by: Bill Kaup | May 4, 2006 1:56 PM

Rudeness knows no age, no income level, no education level. This area is full of a bunch of rude cusses.

I can't tell you the number of times I've been bumped standing on the Metro, stepped in front of while waiting on line, and totally ignored when holding a door for someone (as if I'm the hired doorman) among other things.

I have designated myself the Polite Piper and will loudly and sometimes sharply demand an "Excuse me" or "Thank you." Most people then look at me as if I'm the rude person for pointing out their rudeness (as a woman did once in a Safeway). I have often chided the elderly for being "too damn old to be that rude." I used to wonder how the awfully loud kids on the Metro got to be so rude and obnoxious. Then I realized, they learned it from their parents and neighbors.

Posted by: Polite Piper | May 4, 2006 1:58 PM

Where is Ambrose Bierce when you need him?

Posted by: Spectator | May 4, 2006 1:58 PM

having been a cashier i made the mistake of being friendly to a customer who proceeded to stalk me for months afterwards. i'm talking - would show up at the store i worked & watch me; not talk to me but watch me, would be waiting for me when my shift ended, etc. i seriously feared for my safety and it took me awhile before i was friendly again. while that doesn't justify flat out rudeness, at least understand why i'm not looking you in the eye.

Posted by: quark | May 4, 2006 1:59 PM

Sounds like the DC Metro Area, which we left last June for the delightfulness of Colorado Springs. People here are so nice it's incredible and we almost never hear a horn blow in traffic (what little we have as compared to Northern Virginia). If you want to know more about this great place to live & work go to www.city-data.com and go to FORUMS and go to COLORADO. I'm not a realtor in any way, just trying to raise awareness that there are great alternatives to that mess back east. This is the best place in the nation to be.

Posted by: Mike from back east | May 4, 2006 2:01 PM

I suppose I should just assume then, that priority packages will not arrive at their destination? You sound like a PO employee, blaming the customer for trusting that a package will arrive marked "Priority". Should I also assume then that 1st class mail will not arrive either, even when the rates continue to increase? You've just reenforced my point that the USPS cannot be trusted to deliver.

Posted by: Still PO'd | May 4, 2006 2:10 PM

Jenny: You are right about how nice it is to shop at Alberton's. Our store in the Briargate area of Colorado Springs is wonderful in every way and they are now our regular store. The OJ that was $3.49 a half gallon at Giant Food in Chantilly, VA is usually $2.50 here, and often $1.00 each and it's that's way on many items. Albertson's brand of entrees (Essenia) beats the pants off of Stouffer's, Lean Cuisine and all the others. The clerks here at Walgreen's Drugstore are very cordial, not the scowling types back at CVS in Chantilly, VA. We can't say enough good things about our adopted city of Colorado Springs and wish people would consider it, as it has all the high tech firms of the Capital Beltway and so much more, not to mention mild weather, great scenery, lots to do, and no traffic woes to speak of.

Posted by: Mike from back east | May 4, 2006 2:13 PM

From my perspective, as a former Macy's sales clerk during Christmas, I blame management. We received a day's training (including videos about how to turn in other employees for shoplifting) and were turned loose onto the sales floor. I didn't know the answers to everything folks asked me, but I tried to learn as I went. Yet for some people, this wasn't enough.

I'm still grateful for the many nice folks I did meet along the way. I loved helping them out.

But ultimately, it seemed, my job was to apologize about 50 times a day on behalf of Macy's--for ringing up the wrong price, for not having enough sales folks, for running out of an item, for incorrect signs throughout the store, for only having one cash register and too many people in the line. Please realize sales associates don't always have the power to give discounts or the price you think you should get. I've seen people getting fired for these sorts of things. The security cameras (and guards) were always watching us...

Posted by: former sales associate | May 4, 2006 2:19 PM

Yep, nothing is ruder than demanding gratitude.

Posted by: Wheaton, MD | May 4, 2006 2:29 PM

Cliffie T:
You ought to brush up on your grammar. This has little to do with a college education--plenty of PhDs make these mistakes too...but it drives me crazy.

your = belonging to you
you're = you are
their = belonging to them
there = a place, over there
they're = they are
prospective = likely to happen
perspective = point of view

You used its vs. it's correctly though--woohoo! I think that's the one most commonly misused.

Posted by: grammar nerd | May 4, 2006 2:32 PM

I'm amazed at all the waving and bowing and scraping expected of everyone encountered.
Most people are in a hurry and don't realize they haven't waved a thank you. Also, I always say thanks, but have not been heard on a couple of occasions and been reprimanded with a loud "you're welcome".
And stop letting everybody into traffic. Some days I feel like I'm moving backwards because some idiot has waved in so many cars!

Posted by: wave-a-holic | May 4, 2006 2:38 PM

I am a 50 year old native Washingtonian. I remember not too long after getting my driver's lisence my mother was in the car with me when another driver allowed me to move in front of them. When I neglected to give up the "thank you wave", my mother pratically knocked me into the back seat. Needless to say, I have given the wave without exception since. However, I seem to be the exception. Perhaps the only upside to this lack of common courtesy is that it's really special when you get it.

Posted by: pvh1 | May 4, 2006 2:49 PM

Caroline,

Come on now--are you one of those people who, while driving, comes to a complete stop to let someone attempting to enter the flow from a side street? People honk at you much when you do that? See any anology to that and what you tried to do to the people behind you at the supermarket? Duh.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward | May 4, 2006 2:51 PM

I agree people are becoming more and more rude. It is sad but it is a reflection of how crude our society has become. It is perfectly portrayed in the movies and tv. It is a get what you can, at anyone's expense and who care's who suffers because of our behavior. School prayer, Bible reading, manners taught in school, any kind of religion on tv or the movies is panned. Don't these people know if you don't encourage moral living our society won't be fit to live in.

Posted by: concerned | May 4, 2006 2:53 PM

"But ultimately, it seemed, my job was to apologize about 50 times a day on behalf of Macy's..."

See, this is the real problem. You can't expect the staff to operate more professionally than the management.

Organizations get the employees they deserve. Unfortunately, so do the customers.

Posted by: Lisa | May 4, 2006 2:58 PM

I'm a native Washtonian, and I would not want to live in any other major city besides Atlanta and NY. I find that people are rude any where you go. Im sure living in boring midwest or other sparsely populated city is nice, but the big cities are the best for the excitement and choice of entertainment. If you fill that people are to rude, and that adversly affects you, then the east coast isn't for you. I dont fill its my responsibility to say hello to every person I see on the street or get in the elavator with, if thats rude, then I guess I am rude.

Posted by: Brian, DC | May 4, 2006 2:59 PM

Grammar nerd,

Poor grammar is one of my peeves as well. I know I still make errors, but some are really unbelievable. I also forget how to spell sometimes and keep a dictionary at my desk. What is worse in your opinion, hearing someone speak improper grammar or reading it on a page? I don't know if I punctuated that sentence correctly, lol.

Posted by: SM | May 4, 2006 3:00 PM

I would like to agree with the other poster who commented on population size as being a factor in the behavior of humans. I grew up in the DC area and found most people to be kind and helpful. In stressful stiuations (traffic, lines in stores, etc.) I found a lot of other wise nice people expressed their frustrations to any one within ear-shot. I moved to a small town a few years ago and have had little to no experiences of rude customers, rude service people, etc..( I work in the service industry btw)

Posted by: small town usa | May 4, 2006 3:01 PM

On a related topic - How can we be nearly 80 comments into this chat and no one has mentioned cellphones?

Their use in wildly inappropriate places and at high volume is the height of rudeness.

I attended a classical music concert two weeks ago where they specifically announced over the loudspeaker beforehand, "Please TURN OFF your cellphones." All went well until the last seconds of the final piece, a moving elegy to war and destruction...and a cellphone rang. Loudly. Three times.

I would have strangled the person if I had been seated near them.

Posted by: Lisa | May 4, 2006 3:04 PM

Easy question. Reading bad grammar annoys me much more than hearing it.

Posted by: grammar nerd | May 4, 2006 3:04 PM

While the Post Office isn't known for its stellar customer service, I'm a bit surprised that people like UPS better. UPS's business hours are a horrible inconvenience to people working long hours (or commuting some distance). No weekend availability? Having to drive out to their depot in the middle of nowhere & far from transit access & hope you can get there before they close? No thanks. I'd rather use USPS.

I find if I am nice to the USPS folks, they respond in turn. And as for losing packages, it's a relative rarity (and delivery confirmation is very cheap).

Posted by: USPS is better than the alternatives | May 4, 2006 3:05 PM

For all of the people who think that DC is such a terrible place to live and the people are rude - PLEASE move somewhere else! You only get one life and it is too short to spend in a place that you are miserable. I for one love it here and never plan on moving, but if some of you who think this city is so awful would just LEAVE then there would be more room for those of us who appreciate our nation's capital. Good day!

Posted by: franco | May 4, 2006 3:12 PM

My favorite, having worked in retail before, are the customers who throw money on the counter then put their hand out for their change. Whatever rudeness retail clerks exhibit is often just the consequence of customers treating you like dirt and power trips on customer's parts. Finally, what incentive is there for retail stores to really hire top notch people; the pay is atrocious, the benefits are non-existent and you have it beaten into you from the beginning that you are cog in a machine. Perhaps if customers spoke up for retail clerks with their voice and their pocketbook the situation might change. Perhaps if customers used "please" and "thank you" and put the money in the clerk's hand, and got off their cellphone, and provided every other little daily courtesy to them that we provide to everyone else the "help" might be better.

Not that every sales clerk would be perfect if customer's did that and not that every customer would be perfect. But hey, it's worth a shot.

Posted by: CB, Seattle WA | May 4, 2006 3:12 PM

As a 34 year old born and raised in VA, now living in NY and working in NJ, this is definitely not just a DC issue.

I hate the fact that nobody ever thanks me for letting them merge, while I always wave thanks, but I got used to that when I moved north years ago. But rudeness isn't just lack of a wave. Just last week, I was on my way home, and had a mini van in front of me cut across two lines of traffic, and slam on their brakes at a yield sign - and there was noone around. When I blew my horn as I came to a screaching halt - the person in the back seat gave the finger, the driver gave me the finger and shook their fist at me. Needless to say I was shocked, and this happens more times than you can imagine. A person will cut someone off up here (not merge, but change lanes without a turn signal, etc.) and you get the bird if you beep. I've been run off the road by reckless drivers and when I got back on the highway, been given the finger. There's no 'sorry wave' etc. LOL, and it's not like I have bumper stickers on my car that might be offending someone, it's just people not caring about the environment around them and the impacts their recklessness has on others.

I will say when someone does wave a 'thank you' or 'sorry', it makes my day.

BTW, my 2.5 year old always says thank you, please and may I have please before we give her anything, or let her leave a grownup's presence, including the checkout people. It's frustrating to always reminder her if she forgets, which 2 year olds do, but we do it to raise a child who will grow up to be a polite adult (and always wave if someone let's her merge!).

Posted by: VAgirlinNY | May 4, 2006 3:16 PM

I notice a fair amount of rudeness in DC and environs, sure. But I wanted to mention one situation I am in almost every day where the friendliness between the public and the service people is unusual and notable: my bus, the incomparable 38B between Ballston and Farragut Square. I am not claiming this only happens on the 38B, but passengers routinely thank the driver as he/she lets them off and the route has many drivers who greet people, are polite beyond expectations, and look out for us.

Posted by: Leila | May 4, 2006 3:16 PM

i just want to point out that a lot of the time people in dc are not FROM dc. People look at me with shock when they find out I was raised here, went to college elsewhere, and came back. In certain socio-economic circles its more common to meet the natives, but a HUGE portion of people in this area are not actual washingtonians. so try to base your opinion on the people who were actually born/raised here.

Posted by: dc native | May 4, 2006 3:19 PM

Ever since I worked in retail through high school and college, I've tried hard to be a more considerate shopper. Obviously it wouldn't change every person, but I think most people would benefit from working in retail/customer service for at least a short period in their lives. My stint in retail opened my eyes to my own bad habits while shopping, and to those of other shoppers. You don't have to go around with a folding board as you peruse a clothing store, but at least make an effort to not completely dishevel a stack of sweaters by unfolding each one, holding it up, and then tossing it aside before moving on to another. Contrary to popular belief, retail sales associates are not there to clean up after you (for all those of you who shop like that and say "but it's their job!"), they are there to answer questions about the product, help you find your size, and provide service at the point of sale. I don't go to my doctor's, lawyer's, or insurance agent's offices and mess them up before I leave, so people shouldn't leave a trail of messed up merchandise behind them in other people's workplaces...even if it is at the mall.

Posted by: been there, done that | May 4, 2006 3:21 PM

I must be the weird exception. I do wave back to drivers who let me in, say thank you, hold doors, give up a seat, etc.
I have been a MoCo boy all my life too.

Posted by: Matt | May 4, 2006 3:28 PM

Marko,
I am the child of baby boomers and all my friends and I have good manners and know how to be polite to others.

Posted by: Gen Xer | May 4, 2006 3:30 PM

"Nothing is ruder than demanding gratitude."

You hit it right on the head. Don't be kind or polite because you expect acknowledgement, just do it because you're a good person. Please spare the world your self-righteous, "manners and moral values" BS. I'm sorry if you don't hear please and thank you as much as you want to, but it is a choice whether or not to use those phrases. If you're the impolite type, no amount of harping from some old crow in the checkout line is going to change you. So calm down. Live your life, and get over how others acknowledge you.

Posted by: oh, get over it | May 4, 2006 3:30 PM

I fail to see what one customer being rude or ill-mannered toward another customer has to due with the store clerk being rude to the customer, we as customers deserve common courtesy from the clerks at the stores that we patronize and spend our hard-earned money, the money that pays that clerks salary and no, that does not give us the right to be rude or ill-mannered to that clerk! If I do a courtesy and get no thank you, I either say thank you to myself for that no-mannered individual or I aloud says, even a dog will way his tail when given a bone.

Posted by: Rochelle | May 4, 2006 3:31 PM

As I said in my original post, I am partly mad at myself for not using Fed Ex, where I could have tracked the package. Nevertheless, I will never send a package through the USPS again.

Posted by: PO'd | May 4, 2006 3:35 PM

Cliff,

You are so right about using the blinkers. It is a signal for the other drivers to speed up or slow down, whatever it takes to not let you in!

Posted by: SM | May 4, 2006 3:36 PM

"For all of the people who think that DC is such a terrible place to live and the people are rude - PLEASE move somewhere else! You only get one life and it is too short to spend in a place that you are miserable. I for one love it here and never plan on moving, but if some of you who think this city is so awful would just LEAVE then there would be more room for those of us who appreciate our nation's capital. Good day!"


I'm with you Franco, I celebrate my 10th year in DC this year and I must say it has been a wonderful experience. Yes, I had to deal with my share of rude people but the share of wonderful, funny, engaging, helpful, customer service folks, police, sales clerks, people on the Hill, gov't employees, beltway drivers, etc have have far outnumbered any rude experiences and thesse wonderful experiences are what I remember. Like Franco I've no plans to leave DC I love it here, it's been a far more wonderful place to live and work than the small Southern town I cam from in 1996.

Posted by: sam | May 4, 2006 3:40 PM

I'm confused.

What does Bible reading and prayer in schools have to do with rudeness? Are there any studies on this?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 4, 2006 3:51 PM

Culturally, we are very focused on our rights and what we deserve. There is little emphasis on putting others first. Saying you are sorry has gone from being a polite gesture to being an invitation to get sued. It's kind of sad that it typically takes tragedies (car accidents, fires, floods, etc.) to get people to help each other out.

Posted by: Dave | May 4, 2006 3:56 PM

The check-out problem lies with the store. I once blurted out "So what's express about this lane?" when the inevitable price check ran to minutes. I felt bad about it, but it was truthful. I've kept an eye on these price checks and most of them are over pennies. Solution: instead of Express Lanes, offer checkouts for customers "Type A" and "Type B." The Type A has debit card ready and has memorized produce codes but not the exact price of a can of cat food. Mission: Pay and get out of there fast. The Type B wants to chat and feels civilization is dying if there's no time for chatter, and a Price Check provides the opportunity. Why? Everyone in the U.S.A. feels the need to assert himself/herself and for people who can't post on blogs, a checkout apparently is a suitable substitute. As for those who kindly let shoppers/motorists cut in: thank you if the beneficiary is me; (sad face) if your actions delay me or make me miss a green light. Society needs both types; I'm just not sure how much longer we can function side by side before we drive each other crazy.

Posted by: Stamping my foot in Texas | May 4, 2006 3:57 PM

I'm with Franco and Sam! Born and raised in Adams Morgan, now live in Chevy Chase, wouldn't move anywhere else for anything. I am always courteous, say please and thank you, hello to the checkout clerk, let people in, wave thank you to people (I even wave sorry, which usually leaves a stupified look on their THEIR :) faces) and I would not call myself a patient person at all. It's all about the golden rule. I'm busy myself but not too busy to be pleasant. I'm also with not calling someone over from another line to make yourself feel better when you are the next person in line, not the 5th also waiting to get out of line.

I love DC, run trails in rock creek park, bicycle to the zoo and love the air and space museum. It's a city, people!

Posted by: would never move | May 4, 2006 4:00 PM

I am simply astounded that some of these petty annoyances drive people crazy! Come on, y'all, give others the benefit of the doubt. Just because someone doesn't confess that she's overdrawn or has a seriously ill loved one doesn't mean she doesn't have problems on her mind. Let it go and remind yourself not to commit the transgression that so annoyed you. I don't work in DC, but I love it -- every time I visit, I fall in love again. I love it! I love it!
MaryJane

Posted by: MaryJane | May 4, 2006 4:07 PM

I agree. Rudeness is everywhere anymore. I live in Norfolk, VA and I see as many instances of rudeness on the road, in the stores, etc., as I've seen in Maryland, and other states that I have lived. It seems that a certain majority of the population has completely forgotten how to be polite in any situation. And telling people to get over the rudeness is not the answer either. That in itself is rudeness. How about we all just be more thoughtful and respectful of one another? No one here is expecting to change the world by bringing this up, it's just for reflection.

Posted by: TK | May 4, 2006 4:19 PM

During a very busy night at an area Giant, I was in a long line which had to be divided to allow others to pass through the aisle with their carts. There were two people in front of me and our open space in front of the register. An older gentleman was looking at the batteries and without looking behind him, stepped in line. The man who was immediately behind the older gentleman did not say a word since it was only one small item. The guy in front of me got out of line and tapped the older man on the shoulder, explaining that the line started way back to where we were. The guy who did the confronting smugly then got back into the line and vocally congratulated himself on setting the world straight again to all of us around him. I spoke up to say that I didn't agree with what he did. Of course, he turned his venom on me, but at least I let him know that not everyone in this world is in such a hurry that we would confront a man in his 70s, who was buying one package of AA batteries!

Posted by: Katie | May 4, 2006 4:20 PM

Thanks for raising this topic! And for letting me vent:

Just this past Sunday, I was waiting my turn in a regular line, with my cart filled with my weekly goods. One of the express lanes had no one in it, so I was waved over by the manager. About halfway thru putting my items on the belt, a man joined the lane and, not exaggerating, yelled "CAN'T YOU READ? IT SAYS 20 ITEMS OR LESS!" drawing the stares of other lanes. I felt the blood rush to my face, but I answered firmly, "I was directed to come over here, for your information." He huffed the entire time I was checking out.

While I'm glad I didn't shirk, it really messed up what had been such a lovely Sunday morning. Let's be nicer to each other please! It's just the grocery store for goodness sakes!

Posted by: MeToo | May 4, 2006 4:30 PM

Shopping used be more pleasant. Now it is more of a chore. Many of us are pressed for time, and store clerks are not paid a lot, but simple courtesies can still help.

I still go to the grocery store in person because I like to choose my own produce and meats. Other than that, I do as much shopping as practical over the Internet. It saves on various hassles, including rude people.

Posted by: Ross | May 4, 2006 4:31 PM

Last January, I stood in line at Hecht's to return a Christmas gift. The store was having a big clearance sale, and there were three (related) women together at the check-out purchasing huge loads of clothing. The clerk rang the items up, but when she presented the final total to the customers, they disputed the total. They insisted that the poor clerk ring them all up again, but EACH ITEM AS A SEPARATE TRANSACTION! They were at the counter for 45 minutes, while a dozen people waited in line behind them. It was the only register open in womens' clothing, and calls to the manager got no response. We were shocked with how inconsiderate these customers were. We tried not to be nasty, but we did voice our frustration. They never said they were sorry. By the way, the original totals were correct, so it was a huge waste of time.

Posted by: Missing manners | May 4, 2006 4:38 PM

Rudeness and inconsideration has indeed become endemic in this country. For example, the other day, I happened to get off of the orange line at Farragut West and had an older man (60's or 70's) physically and forcefully attempt to shove his way past me from behind because he was upset that I got off and ended up in front of him. What to say about situations like this? It's a sign that society has become self-serving and the feeling of entitlement has pervaded everyday life. Honestly, because of actions like this, I prefer to stay at home and cringe every time I ride the metro because of self-serving and rude people who ride it everyday.

Posted by: Chantal | May 4, 2006 4:41 PM

John wrote - "What these posters are essentially saying is that they would have felt badly treated if they had been behind you in line, because unlike you they would not have wanted to let the other customer in." "I learned at an early age to think -- in a very conscious way -- about my actions and how they might be perceived by others, in order to not hurt those around me."

John,

Here's a real story of something that happened a few years ago to me when traveling. Tell us how you would have handled the situation: I was flying from Newark, NJ to DC and the 4:30 flight that I was on was delayed due to mechanical problems. This airline had, at that time, regular hourly flights, on the half-hour, between Newark and DC. So some people who were on the 4:30 flight with me naturally assumed that the 4:30 flight passengers would get on the 5:30 flight when the plane for that flight arrived. Well, when the 5:30 flight arrived, the airline boarded people who had reservations for that flight. It turned out that the 5:30 flight was sold out so no one from my 4:30 flight could get on. To me, no big deal as I travel frequently and know how the airlines work when it comes to situations like this. However, some other people started to really give the gate agent a hard time, with one guy in particular, demanding that they remove people booked on that flight so that they could get on.

What would have you done? Would you have allowed the 4:30 passengers get on the 5:30 plane ahead of those who had reservations for that flight? If I read your post correctly, I think you would.

The airline's view is this: they already have 50 passengers from the 4:30 flight who are PO'd for waiting, so why should they put these ahead of the 5:30 flight passengers and PO an additional 50 people?

Allowing one person who has been waiting in a slow line to cut into a faster moving line is just like the airline story above. Now the people who were in the fast moving line are made to wait longer when they shouldn't have had to. So instead of having just one person who may be PO's for waiting to checkout, the number may now have increased by the number of people who were in line behind Caroline. Perhaps Caroline should have thought about her actions "...and how they might be perceived by others, in order to not hurt those around..." her.

Posted by: ABH | May 4, 2006 4:43 PM

I'm from GA and have been living in the metro DC area for about 8 months now. Before moving here I had often heard the sterotype about northerners being rude and I thank my lucky stars that I don't have to work in a customer serivce environment. Many clerks probably are rude towards customers becauser customers are rude towards them. My biggest complaint with this area is that people are rude in traffic. It seems as if everyone driving here thinks they are a NASCAR driver or are in the Fast and the Furious racing to get some prize. Unfortunately, living here has definitely forced me to become a more aggressive driver.

Posted by: can't wait to move | May 4, 2006 4:50 PM

I second the post about people being nice on buses here. On my bus, the K6, people routinely hold small children while the mother digs for change, offer seats to pregnant women, help with bags, etc. One morning a driver had to stop, a mile or so before the station, to take a personal call on his cell phone. (Hey, at least he didn't talk while he was driving.) He got off the bus and stood at the stop for a minute or two, talking. Someone on the bus started cursing about the delay, and several other people were like, hey, man, he's got a family emergency! Calm down! As we got off the bus at Fort Totten, people were offering him their cell phone headsets. I kid you not.

Posted by: h3 | May 4, 2006 5:02 PM

I wish that more stores could do what Best Buy has been doing. ONE line, many registers. It just seems more fair.

We should also get off of our phones though. I see too many people immersed in conversation while checking out at the grocery store. Put the phone down for 5 minutes, complete your transaction, and call the person back! I think that much of the rudeness (on everyone's part) is a lack of awareness for what is going on around us.

Posted by: DrG in NYC | May 4, 2006 5:05 PM

My wife and I experienced the same rudeness among shoppers as well as store clerks (and drivers) during our many years in Washington and South Florida. We moved back home to Austin, Texas, last year, and are still getting used to the consistent pleasantness of both the clerks and our fellow shoppers. We always chalked up the rudeness so prevalent in Washington to the fact that so many people there thought they should be so important yet deep down knew they actually weren't.

Posted by: BigTex | May 4, 2006 5:17 PM

My wife and I just moved to Fredericksburg, VA from Plano, TX about 4 months ago. Expecting to see a small town in the outskirts of DC, I am still wondering why in the world I ever moved here even for a few more dollars a year. The traffic is worst with the worst drivers I have ever seen and the rudest people I have ever met. I can't wait to move back to Dallas where even for such a huge city, people were so much nicer, not to mention all the conveniences and 2500 square feet houses at $200K. I definitely think the way people act has a lot to do with this area and I am trying to hard not to change since I know that we want move back ASAP.

Posted by: Sam | May 4, 2006 5:22 PM

I live in Richmond and travel to DC most weekends. Its the same here, RUDE ppl everywhere! I blame the REPUBLICAN mind set: I have MINE and SCREW everyone else.
Thank your Reagan, Bush,Cheney,Fritz et al.

Posted by: Tom in Richmond | May 4, 2006 5:33 PM

What I think is funny is that people around here sometimes seem not to know what to do when you try to be polite to them. An example I see regularly is that someone will put on a turn indicator in slow traffic to change lanes and I'll leave a gap so they can move over. But they don't move over! They just stay there waiting. So do I beep the horn or what? (I don't flash my lights because it's bad for the high-intensity lights to turn them on and off too quickly, and in my other car I have flip-up headlights.) Sometimes I wind up pulling ahead and just shrugging it off as someone being inattentive. It's as if they're flabbergasted that anyone in the DC area is being polite. (But if you don't use your turn indicator, I presume that you don't want to get over.)

On the road, I feel that there has to be some sort of line as to when you're being polite and when you're being a sop. For example--when you're in stopped traffic and a lane ends for construction, let ONE CAR merge in front of you at the end of the lane. Take turns. That's the polite thing to do and if everyone cooperated we'd all get to our destinations sooner. But a counter-example is people who allow others to cut in line at every chance--for example, I commute up Van Dorn Street every day and the left lane becomes left-turn-only at the Beltway. Inevitably some people race up that lane, drive onto the striped divider, and try to shove their way into the thru lanes; they just don't want to wait in line. And inevitably someone lets them in. To me, that's not being polite--that's being an easy mark and an enabler. People who drive on the shoulder, or who pass in the on-ramp merge lane, are doing it because other people let them. The solution is not to let them! It's not being rude to stand up to them.

Regarding someone's earlier comment that in this country everyone seems to be "Now Now Now" or "I want...."-- When I was in high school around 1990 I waited tables at a retirement home and some of the residents used to order their meals by saying "I want some soup" or "I want chicken." Never "I'd like some chicken" or "Could I have the soup, please?" It was as if the term "order your meal" really meant "give orders." I generally shrugged it off as their just being elderly people, but since I waited tables I'm now conscious of these sorts of things even though I haven't waited tables since 1991. It's become all too common in restaurants for people to treat the waiters and waitresses like servants to be ordered around. While it is their job to "serve" you and to bring you a meal, they can also make your visit pretty darn miserable if you don't treat them politely....which is what they deserve anyway!

Posted by: Rich | May 4, 2006 5:45 PM

The post by Tom in Richmond above is another example of the problem in the DC area. Let the stupid politics go for once! Not everything involves politics. If I go to the grocery store to buy dinner, I couldn't care less about Bush, or Kerry, or Tim Kaine, or Tony Blair, or Marion Barry--I just want to buy my dinner. Some people seem to get their jollies out of baiting everyone into fussing about politics at every opportunity. Really, unless you're a political appointee, it's just NOT THAT RELEVANT to MOST PEOPLE'S everyday lives! Why persist in trying to provoke everyone?

Posted by: Rich | May 4, 2006 5:49 PM

People do expect rudeness in larger cities, so I try to befuddle them with kindness. I frequently help out the lost tourists on the Metro, always waved at people who let me merge, smile and say "Hello" when passing people(esp. those that make eye contact)on the street, I hold doors for people & say Thank you when one is held for me. I have been known to let people with one item ahead of me in a grocery line, but only is there is no one else in line. I use my turn signals, and wish others would not assume that their turn signals are "Moses blinkers", able to part traffic. People usually respond in kind. Some are slightly confused, as they expected rudeness. I am from NYC originally, and I must say that I did get my manners at home. I have tried to pass them along to my children. As for the person who said that rudeness was the result of no religious education, I have to say the rudest child on my block is a church frequently with his parents, the deacons.

Posted by: Sue | May 4, 2006 5:49 PM

There is common sense and common courtesy.
When I worked at supermarkets and at produce stores (in New York) both as a kid and again when older, there was never a thought about saying, "Good morning" when they reached you at checkout or if they simply passed you - or you them in your section. I'm not saying stop stocking canned goods to say 'hi' but it wasn't even second nature if you were walking to be courteous. You did it because they were customers and they don't have to shop at your store; they have alternatives; you have to find new customers if the old ones leave.

Now, as a customer, I find it takes no time or effort, when I approach a cashier on the check-out line, or am in the area of a produce clerk/manager, or even the kid stocking milk, canned goods or behind the deli counter, to say good morning, and thank you if I've been served.

I let people behind me, with only several items, go in front of me, and if they say no, I say, 'Please, you've only got X number.'

And if I don't get a postive response, a thank you, or am just cold-shouldered, so be it. I did my part the way my parents did before me, the common courtesy they taught me.
And maybe, just maybe, the person I was courteous to, even if they weren't courteous to me, will be courteous to the next person.

XMinusOne@gmail.com

Posted by: Anonymous | May 4, 2006 6:18 PM

I stopped going to the 'G' supermarket chain for the primary reason that their lines are too long and the cashiers (and many customers) are just not that friendly. Trader Joe's is a MUCH better, and surprisingly cheaper, alternative if you can deal with a smaller selection and no frills. You sometimes have to wait for a few minutes in line, but you forget about it the minute a cashier greets you with a smile.

Posted by: Dakota Pants | May 4, 2006 6:21 PM

I worked as an airline customer service agent one winter in Denver, checking in passengers who were going skiing. Naturally, in order for skiing to happen, it has to snow in the mountains, and sometimes a snowstorm causes a flight to be cancelled for safety reasons. You would not believe the insults I had to put up with, especially from people coming off of New York flights. They called me every name in the book, as though I had personally arranged the snowstorm right at the time their flight was supposed to go into Aspen. Oddly, women passengers were the worst, and celebrities were the most polite. I even had one woman passenger intervene on my behalf when the woman in front of her was being unbelievably abusive to me over a cancellation.

So the next time you think that airline or retail personnel are treating you rudely or don't care, it's because they learn early on to build up a protective shell just to survive the abuse that today's customers heap on them. And this is a national phenomenon, not a DC problem.

Posted by: Scott | May 4, 2006 7:05 PM

Speaking of grocery stores, I've found that the employees at the Safeway on Old Keene Mill Road in Burke are remarkably friendly and helpful, especially compared to the bitter, stressed-out employees at Giant on Rolling Road. These neighborhoods are close enough together that I don't think it's a difference in customer demographics. The Safeway employees will actually stop stocking if you look lost and take you to whatever you're trying to find. I now drive several miles out of my way to shop at the Safeway, which somehow also manages to have lower prices than Giant.

Posted by: Will | May 4, 2006 7:33 PM

I just moved to Los Angeles after 11 years in DC and 18 in the midwest. The first thing I was struck by here is how much better service is here, or at least more friendly. The citizenry can seem a little weird, but overall it's SO much more laidback than DC. I have good reasons to come back to DC, but I just have no desire to do so because of the atmosphere there.

Posted by: Inthe310 | May 4, 2006 8:12 PM

I am a weekend cashier at a store that is known for its low prices and that carries thousands of items. Although I've picked up a lot in my time here, my training was in cashiering. So when customers ask about a product, if I don't know I say so and offer to call someone who can answer their questions. Customers will often respond with a 'No one knows anything around here.' Insulting the clerks doesn't make them more customer friendly. We try. But I'm amazed that people will come in here to save a few bucks and then demand that everyone in the store answer whatever question they have. The training expenses would be huge and prices would go up. You get what you pay for. I always greet each customer with a smile and a good morning even though half don't respond at all. And I'm always amazed at customers that spend two hours browsing in the store then become incensed that they have to wait 10 minutes in the checkout lane. We've seen customers change signs and then demand a lower price on an item because that's what the sign says. I apologize when an item rings up wrong or when I make a mistake. Some people are very nice about it. Some people will yell, curse and demand to see the manager. I don't set the policies or the prices, but I try to help the customer as much as I can and I'm much more willing to help the nice customers than the meanies. So if you want good customer service, try being polite; it'll get you much further.

Posted by: belle | May 5, 2006 10:24 AM

I am a weekend cashier at a store that is known for its low prices and that carries thousands of items. Although I've picked up a lot in my time here, my training was in cashiering. So when customers ask about a product, if I don't know I say so and offer to call someone who can answer their questions. Customers will often respond with a 'No one knows anything around here.' Insulting the clerks doesn't make them more customer friendly. We try. But I'm amazed that people will come in here to save a few bucks and then demand that everyone in the store answer whatever question they have. The training expenses would be huge and prices would go up. You get what you pay for. I always greet each customer with a smile and a good morning even though half don't respond at all. And I'm always amazed at customers that spend two hours browsing in the store then become incensed that they have to wait 10 minutes in the checkout lane. We've seen customers change signs and then demand a lower price on an item because that's what the sign says. I apologize when an item rings up wrong or when I make a mistake. Some people are very nice about it. Some people will yell, curse and demand to see the manager. I don't set the policies or the prices, but I try to help the customer as much as I can and I'm much more willing to help the nice customers than the meanies. So if you want good customer service, try being polite; it'll get you much further.

Posted by: belle | May 5, 2006 10:28 AM

To "not impatient, just amazed":

Interesting that you said "'average' urban high school graduate" in order to play it safe. Well, I am an urban high school graduate. And I was pleasant even when I worked in fast food. I earned a master's degree and I maintain 2 professional jobs. The "urban" has nothing to do with it.

If you want to generalize, don't forget to mention that there are some "suburban" people who live in McMansions who think the world owes them something. They are just as rude, if not ruder than the people you describe.

Posted by: ProfessorB | May 5, 2006 11:31 AM

CliffieT wrote:

"If you use a turn-signal in the DC area, that signals the other cars to speed up and not let you in....Unfortunately, you have to get in quickly if you can....LOL"

I've lived here going on 30 years now (driving for 20+ of them) and my rule is that if you DON'T signal, I won't let you in. ;)

The converse of that is that if you do signal that you want to get over, I will ALWAYS let you in. :-)

Sam

Posted by: Sam F. | May 5, 2006 11:56 AM

"Professor B"
the post says average urban high school graduate WITHOUT HIGHER STUDIES...as someone with two masters degrees you hardly qualify.

And for the record, if you re read the post(s) the point was about skills and sensibility. As a District resident, I am more than familiar with the byproduct of DC public schools and I can tell you that they are not competitive academically or prepare students for the world at large. If a child does well, it is despite the system, not because of it.

I'm confused as to how suburban mcmansions have anything to do with this.

As for generalizations to "play it safe": i will make one about the american service sector: it's terrible. and making excuses for it

Posted by: not impatient, just amazed | May 5, 2006 12:54 PM

sorry. that last sentence should have read: no making excuses for it!

Posted by: not impatient, just amazed | May 5, 2006 12:55 PM

As a D.C area resident for forty years, with thirty of those years spent in retail management, I have a few comments and observations.

First, there is no excuse for rudeness. If you can't act with decency and respect to others in public, stay home. Everyone has problems of their own; they don't need yours as well.

Rudeness in the D.C. area is not new - it has been around for many years. My best theory is that rudeness is worse in D.C. because no one really knows anyone else, since most people have moved to the D.C. area from elsewhere for school and careers. Rudeness is easy when the players are anonymous. Are people as rude to people they know as they are to strangers? For the most part, they are not.

And now a few retail-specific comments:

"The customer is always right." This is a perfect example of a marketing theme gone bad. In actuality, the customer is NOT always right. But if you are civil and decent, we can probably work things out to your satisfaction.

"As your best customer of the moment, I deserve a discount." No, you don't deserve a discount. You do deserve good service and to be treated with respect. But as a business operator, I shouldn't have to cut my prices further so you can brag to your friends and enhance your retirement portfolio at my expense.

Not only are many Washingtonians excessively rude, but they are also unbelievably cheap. Ever wonder why so many service employees are underqualified and undertrained? Historically, many retail margins have been as thin as possible to be competitive. When retailers are forced to further cut prices to maintain revenue, they are also forced to cut expenses to maintain profitability. Employee salaries and training costs are often the first areas of expense reduction. In other words, you only get what you are willing to pay for in the end.

As a long-time retailer, there are too many "nasty customer" stories I could relate here that would curl your hair. But the reality is that the majority of customers are civil and decent and friendly most of the time. And that is why retail can be both fun and fulfilling as a career. For those who go out of their way to make it not fun, please get a clue.

And one final note: "The Golden Rule" still works if you use it regularly. Treat retail employees with civility and respect, and the level of service you receive will almost always be better.

Posted by: Alder Plank | May 5, 2006 3:23 PM

Yes the problem is with customers as well as with the clerks, but I think people are letting workers off too easy.
I've worked as a receptionist at a hosptial for just over a year now, and since that time have become much harsher towards poor service. There is no excuse for being rude to a customer. I know that most customer service jobs are low paying and often seem thankless, but you are getting paid to come in and make sure others are happy. The way I see it is, a person would not accept a poor surgery from a doctor, nor would you take uncooked or poorly prepared food at a resturant so why should people accept poor service from me either?
The problem I think is that people don't take enough pride in their jobs anymore. Maybe I don't have the most important job in the world, but make sure that I do a job I can be proud of.
To the girl who worked in Macy's, you seem like the kind of clerk I would like to have. But I would say it is your job "to apologize about 50 times a day on behalf of Macy's." Customers do not care what your management is (or often is not)doing, they just want someone to take responsibilty and treat them with respect.
Its what they are paying you for.

Posted by: Beth | May 5, 2006 3:29 PM

"Not only are many Washingtonians excessively rude, but they are also unbelievably cheap."

Well maybe if housing prices would come down to more reasonable levels we wouldn't have to be!

Posted by: meathead | May 5, 2006 5:20 PM

It shows the general lack of any culture in the US. For example, when people say that immigrants are supposed to assimliate to this culture I always say "What culture?" By all means, immigrants, bring some culture with you, we sorely need it -- unless you count the culture of consumerism, of course.

Posted by: John Norman | May 5, 2006 5:31 PM

Cliffie T - it's "you're," not "your." Just FYI.

Posted by: Your/You're | May 6, 2006 9:10 AM

"As a Christian child, I specifically learned to ask "what would Jesus do?" long before that phrase was on bumper stickers, and as an atheist adult, I still ask that question. Thing is, I don't think very many people care."

Yeah, what WOULD that Jewish guy do? That statement was a little holier than thou, Hon.

As a former waitress, no matter how hard I ran around and how nice I was, if someone said Jesus at the table, I wasn't getting a tip.
Even if I quoted the Bible.
If you don't have the money to tip, then it's rude to eat out.

I find that a lot of young people are angry and if they can just one-up one stranger, they feel sooooo superior. They should also keep in mind that messing with someone who is strange to you is NOT a good idea.

When I've worked at customer service jobs, I've always tried to recall when I was emotionally spent and said something I've regretted.
It still happens, but I am sorry for it.

That said, I would really recommend that CSR's learn NOT to argue with the customer.

Listen, care, and also understand that some people just need to complain. Stop replying after a while.

If the food is different from how they had it the last time, apologize for the last time and ask them to try what they see in front of them.

There is no justification to mistreating the customer, I don't care how many other places "are doing it now". Creating an adversarial relationship with your customer is NOT acceptable.

Also a lot of people stop being polite when someone sneers at you as they take advantage of your kindness, suggesting they are better because they are rude. See statement about young people above.

Posted by: Diana | May 7, 2006 7:22 PM

Manners have been eroding in this country for decades. Maybe parents are too busy to impart the basic rules of civility because they are overwhelmed. Growing up in the fifties and sixties, we were drilled to say "please," "thank you," and even "yes ma'am" and "no ma'am." Bad manners are really irritating and gauche.

Posted by: Barry D. McCollough | May 8, 2006 2:13 PM

I have hunch that reason country is generally edgy is that we all are insulted a little a few times a day. After a few years we have 200 million people angry at the world, and not inclined to be mannerly themselves.

Posted by: Paul Cooper | May 8, 2006 3:02 PM

To Grammer Nerd!!!

Most people on these kinds of blogs are venting!! I was venting, NOT writing an article!! If this is one of your pet peeves, then don't read the blogs!! When people vent, they are not necessarly trying to punctuate and use perfect grammer in their blogs!! And who made you the Grammer police?? I don't need you to proof anything for me, nor did I ask you!!
Try sticking to the subject at hand, those are the only comments that I am interested in!!

Posted by: Cliffie T | May 8, 2006 3:59 PM

To self titled "Polite Piper":

You said:
"Most people then look at me as if I'm the rude person for pointing out their rudeness. I have often chided the elderly for being "too damn old to be that rude." I used to wonder how the awfully loud kids on the Metro got to be so rude and obnoxious. Then I realized, they learned it from their parents and neighbors."

According to Miss Manners, the point of manners it to make others comfortable. Is it anyone's place to 'chide' anyone, especially coupled with profanity as an adjective about the advancement of their age.

Posted by: Miss Manners trainee | May 17, 2006 11:01 AM

First some responses to previous posts:
1. I think it's rude to point out spelling and grammar errors when it's irrelevant to the topic at hand.
2. The woman who lets another in line at the grocery story said (in a subsequent post) that she does it when she's the last person in line. I am simply amazed how many people got in her face about it - even after she clarified the situation. I've also let others in line in front of me - WHEN I'M THE LAST PERSON IN LINE.

I'm from the Midwest. Rudeness is prevalent everywhere.

People turn in front of me on the road, go 45 mph for a couple hundred feet, then make a left turn. Then, they wonder why others get mad. Sheesh.

I have also had unbelievable stories from the grocery store. Many, many times, there will be two people in an aisle, while someone coming toward us is trying to get past. I will stand behind one of the parked carts/customers to wait for the oncoming person to get through. More times than not, someone will come rushing up behind me, cut around the oncoming person and darn near hurt someone. I try to be courteous yet get some butthead living up to his/her personality.

As far as other customer services, I try to be polite and courteous, but sometimes the BS of the establishment is just too much for my patience (or lack thereof).

I stopped at my local bank to get an ATM card. I was told to call a toll-free number. That person told me that the card I wanted had to be requested at the bank. When I went back to the bank, I was told that they couldn't order a card, because I had opened my account at another location (I had moved). The teller started explaining it to me, and I said, "I don't want to hear it. It doesn't matter what the excuse is."

I grew up having to take responsibility, having to be polite, having some sense of pride, and a sense of work ethic. Most, if not all, of those are sorely missing in the raising of children these days.

I also think that most people don't like themselves enough to like others.


Posted by: Deev | May 17, 2006 2:37 PM

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