Thursday, May 5, 2011

Manners are Due a Dog

The Lost the Art of the Knock

When I was growing up my Mom used to say that manners are due a dog. I don’t know if that’s true for all dogs, but if I say, “Excuse me” my dog, Rolie, will move. If I don’t, he won’t.

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Basic manners and courtesy are not inherent in our species. We are born rude and crude. The niceties have to be taught, learned and practiced. The problem is learning good manners is like learning a language, the younger the better. You can learn later in life but it’s a lot harder, and perhaps the principles don’t sink in as well.

I’m not talking about the proper way to set a table. It doesn’t really matter which fork you use when your eating dinner out of a paper bag. I’m talking about what almost everybody’s mom calls The Magic Words: Please, thank you, excuse me, thank you, may I, thank you. Did I say thank you? I’m also talking about The Magic Deeds: Holding open a door, helping clean up a mess, knocking before entering.
Old folks used to say, “A closed door begs a knock.” That’s a phrase we need to put back into the daily rotation. This adage is vitally important when endeavoring to use a public restroom. Modesty, courtesy and sanity demand that you not only knock before entering, but that you wait and listen for a reply. When you’re driving, a rolling stop at a stop sign is a ticketable offense. Opening a door, as you’re knocking, is just offensive. I don’t want to be walked in on, nor do I want to walk in on anybody. I can’t afford the therapy.

I was having lunch at a local diner and I could clearly see the door of the restaurant’s one and only bathroom from where I was sitting. A young lady of about 14 got up to use the facilities. She never broke stride as she simultaneously put her hand on the nob and tried to go in, of course, without knocking. The door was locked. Clearly someone was already inside and the young lady simply had to wait her turn. Again, a closed door begs a knock, but to her it begged a battering. She readjusted her grip, putting both hands on the knob, and wrenched at it for all she was worth.

Surely the door would yield now. It did not.

Undeterred, she then turned her body sideways and began to ram her shoulder into the door like she had a warrant. It was like watching a live action episode of “Law & Order.” Is that a crack in the molding? Is that dust falling from the ceiling? Maybe the hormones in the chicken are responsible for more than just early onset puberty. Either that or the poor girl had just arrived from Krypton and didn’t know her own strength.

To give the youngling the benefit of the doubt, maybe she just really had to go. But if I were on the other side of that door taking care of personal business, I’d be worried. I’d be thinking that if someone were trying so desperately to break down the bathroom door, then everyone in the restaurant must be dead and the homicidal maniac who did it was trying to get in and finish the job. Because a normal person would knock wouldn’t they?

Only if they had manners.

Two things are clear: this young lady had no concept of knocking before entering. And it isn’t likely she’ll ever learn it from her parents. We were all transfixed (I aghast; them vaguely proud) watching her do a spot on impersonation of a battering ram. She definitely made the case for women playing professional football. Put a toilet in the end zone and watch her shoulder her way down the field.

The bathroom is my Dog’s favorite room in the house. He spends so much time in there we call it his office. If I had the temerity to bust in without knocking, I’m sure he would give me a toothy reminder that courtesy is due a dog.

Join The Urban Erma on Facebook or follow on Twitter. You can listen to the podcast on Podbean or subscribe for free on iTunes. Leighann Lord is a stand-up comedian, who's style is best described as "Thinking Cap Comedy." If comedy were music, she'd be Jazz. Check out her upcoming shows @ Join her on FaceBook. Follow her on Twitter.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love it!