What’s happened to common courtesy? Has it gone out of style? When I was a young girl, you never called an adult by their first given name, but out of respect you addressed them as Mr. or Mrs. Jones or Miss. Nelson (never Ms. Smith or by their first given name.) I remember the shock I felt the first time that my son’s teenage friend called me Lin. I stopped in my tracks and thought…What did he call me? I felt silly correcting him…Did you mean Mrs. Floyd? Somehow the respect between adults and youth has gotten lost and with it common courtesy. Although, most people today still refer to their teachers and also their doctors properly.
Then, there’s the matter of labeling. Consider this experience I had at my doctor's office recently with one of his assistants. A young girl (twenty something) kept calling me dear. For some reason that always rubs me the wrong way. You wouldn't call someone your own age dear. They would probably wonder what was wrong with you. But this woman called me that several times. Each time I controlled my urge to set her straight. Wanting to tell her that I may look old to her, but I am not 80 yet and won't be ready to be called dear, sweetie, or honey until I have one foot in the grave. Maybe she didn’t know whether to call me Lin or Mrs. Floyd?
Consider also the problem of expressing gratitude when receiving gifts. As a young person, on special occasions I always made a list of any present I received and who sent it. If they lived a distance away, I would write them a note of thanks. Thank you notes are another common courtesy we’ve lost. Emails do count, but there’s something special about the handwritten note and the effort to put it in an envelope, address, stamp and send it off. (Most brides today still do write thank yous.)
Both my grandmothers always remembered my birthday. I could depend on them to send a thoughtful card and some money in the mail. I would be sure to quickly write them a thank you. Now if I don’t remind my grown kids, most of them forget I have a birthday. (Although, I always remember their special occasions with a card and present of some kind.) Times change I know, but sometimes not for the better.