Wednesday, January 03, 2007

There's Just No "Excuse"

It suddenly dawned on me (this past weekend as I stood in a crowded bar being pushed and shoved in all kinds of directions) that people simply just don't say "excuse me" anymore. There's no "pardon me", or "excuse me", or even a "sorry" as people push past you on their way to wherever. I am not talking about a slight brush from a passerby. I am talking about a knocking me off-balance kinda thing. Is it because I am big and people think that I might not move if asked?

And it's not just in a bar. I have noticed when I am traveling to work in the morning on the "L" and take a seat next to the window, a person who eventually sits next to me will sometimes use me as a bumper to land in the seat. Which is okay if he/she happens to lose his/her balance and falls into me. But then I expect to hear "I'm sorry" or "excuse me" or even "good morning". Something!

But no.

When I sit next to people, I am cautious as hell about not touching them at all, much less falling into them -- partly because of the cooty factor, but mostly because it's just rude to do it. And if I would bump into someone with any amount of force, I would apologize. Likewise when navigating through a crowded bar. Granted, my friends usually make me go first because I can clear a wider path for those who follow. But my journey is peppered with "sorry" as I work my way through. I will admit to pushing my way through, but only after two "excuse me"s have not seemed to garner a response. I have also been known to pick someone up and displace him to make a point (this has led to 6 different dates over the years).

But I digress.

Social graces have been slowly eroding in America for years. And I have found if you correct behavior now and then, it seems to work. In many ways, adults are mere children just waiting to be told what to do. So here is a little lesson for you: "Excuse me" is your action, not mine.