Beth Armstrong

Christian wife, mom, & author. Doing life with my eyes fixed on Jesus. I walk, I stumble, I fall. But God is big. And this is what I write about… Thanks for stopping by!


Courtesy.  Decency.  Respect.  These things used to be the norm.  They used to be the rule, not the exception. 

I was abruptly reminded of this recently as I sat at Panera.  I enjoy going there once in a while to escape the constant responsibilities of my house.  There’s good coffee, great food, and it’s quiet—an ideal environment conducive to writing.  The time I go is after the morning rush and before the lunch crowd.  It’s perfect.  But not this particular day.  Some guy had the audacity to set up an elaborate video conference call (taking up two 4-person tables I might add) right at the front of the store.  Not in the back.  Not in a corner.  After he got all the gadgets in place, the “fun” began.  The ringing, the clicking, the dialing, the connecting (all at top volume).  When he finally connected to his “video partner,” you would have thought they were the only ones in the place.  I thought to myself, surely he’s aware that other people are around and that he’s being quite loud.  Nope!  The guy sitting next to me looked at me with the same bewildered look on his face that I was giving him.  Dumbfounded, I said to him, “Are you serious?  He’s going to do that in here?”  We were flabbergasted—and that’s not a word I ever use.  The gentleman continued his loud, boisterous, vociferous call for at least 45 minutes.  People sitting close by, including me, began to don their headphones to try drowning him out.  It didn’t matter.  I could still hear every word he and his business partner were having including, “I don’t know why they have headphones on.  Maybe they think we’re too loud.”  Duh!

I left Panera shaking my head and thinking, how is that ok?  When did that kind of thing become acceptable?  Then I began to reflect on several other instances that have somehow become “okay” today.  It dawned on me that the standard of common courtesy, decency, and respect has been lowered to a degree that I’m not sure we can even call it a “standard” anymore. 

In mulling over the obvious areas where courtesy, decency, and respect have gone by the wayside, I challenge that we could all use a little improvement in the following:

Courtesy Reminders:

  1. Out of respect for others, finish the phone conversation before you enter the restaurant.  Patrons don’t need to be a part of your personal or business conversations.
  2. Cell phones in the library?  Are you kidding me?  Remember there are two ingenious features on the cell phone—vibrate mode and voice mail (refer back to #1).  Common courtesy says, “sshhh!” in the library.
  3. Don’t let the shopping cart roam throughout the parking lot looking for a car to nail.  There are special “cages” for those things all throughout the parking lot.  Have the decency to take a few extra seconds and put it in its proper place.
  4. Be on time!  The “ish-time” mentality might be acceptable for parties or get-togethers, but it isn’t acceptable for meetings, appointments, etc.
  5. Have the common decency to throw your trash in the provided trash receptacles.  I’ve seen countless people toss their trash out their car window or drop it onto the surface of the parking lot.  What is that?  Trash cans are provided in most fast food, department store, and gas station parking lots.  Use them!

A simple list.  A huge result.  Out of courtesy, decency, and respect to others, be aware of what you’re doing (or failing to do) with regard to the people around you.  Remember, it’s out of what you give to others that you will receive back yourself.

In what other areas do we need a courtesy wakeup call?


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