When my twin nieces, Rachel and Raquel, were 1½ years old, I had to teach them a lesson that not being thankful will get you in trouble.
Both of them wanted some teething cookies, so I gave each one. Rachel promptly said, “Thank you Uncle Ro Ro Daddy!” (I’m their uncle and godfather, but since they were living with me and my wife at the time, they decided to add daddy on the end).
Raquel got her cookie and gave me a blank look.
Now she heard her sister say thank you; she had previously said thank you. But today, she decided to be obstinate. I asked her politely. Nothing.
“Raquel, what do you say?” I said over and over and over.
Sensing her twin was about to get in trouble, Rachel started saying over and over, “Thank you Uncle Ro Ro Daddy! Thank you Uncle Ro Ro Daddy! Thank you Uncle Ro Ro Daddy!”
Finally, after about the tenth time, I had enough and promptly took the cookie from Raquel and went on about my business.
Call me a harsh Uncle Ro Ro Daddy, but if children aren’t taught to be courteous and thankful at a young age, they will be rude and callous as an adult.
Clearly there are a lot of those kind of people.
I’m sick and tired of being in Washington, D.C., New York, or Chicago—three cities I’ve lived in the past seven years—and having to deal with absolutely rude people.
The other day, I held the door open for three people at the NBC NewsChannel building where we shoot my TV One show, and they walked in as if I was the doorman. No hello, thank you, nothing.
I experience this a lot with women. You hold the door open for them and they don’t even bother to say thank you. Look, I’m not trying to get your phone number or Twitter handle, I’m just being a courteous man. Geez. You would think a simple “thank you” would suffice.
How about being at the grocery store and as you are standing there perusing something on the shelf, someone walks in front of you like you are a piece of furniture. Is “excuse me” really that hard to say?
Sure, you may call this petty, but it really does chap my hide! Maybe it was my upbringing in Texas, where it was common to say “thank you” or “excuse me.”
One day while I was getting assistance at the airport counter, a woman walked up next to me and immediately launched into a litany of questions and requests with the clearly busy airport worker who was helping me. I wanted to ignore it, but it has happened so many times I blurted out: “Hey, I’m standing here. She is helping me. You are going to have to get in line to wait your turn.”
The woman looked aghast and walked off. She was rude, but I’m the bad guy!
The most hilarious recent example of rudeness I’ve encountered happened when I was shopping at a Target in Chicago. As I was going across an aisle, this guy barreled through, didn’t say excuse me, and almost knocked my cart out of the way. Ticked off, I then followed the guy around. At one point he was getting an item off a shelf. I nudged my cart closer to another, creating barely enough space to get through. This guy literally turns into a pretzel to squeeze through the space. All he had to do was say, “Excuse me,” but he was so rude and arrogant, he would have rather turn into a contortionist than be polite.
You may say, “Man, get over it,” but when I see rudeness everywhere I go, it tells me that we have a generation of parents who did not do and are not doing their jobs. When and why did this happen, that parents stopped teaching manners? Conservatives would blame the 60s, since they blame the 60s for everything. Liberals would blame the 80s, the rise of the selfish Gordon Gekko type, the creation of the uber-class that expects and demands perfect service at all time and in all places. Sandwiched in between of course is the 70s—“The Me Decade,” as Tom Wolfe called it, the time of retreat to individualism after the demanding social commitments of the 60s. I’m not sure which decade to blame or when it happened, but it did. American parents started raising rude children. We really need to emphasize again the notion of common courtesy to our kids and teenagers.
Some say, “Man, just keep it moving.” But I can’t. It’s not in my DNA to not say thank you or not hold the door open. But what I will do is embarrass someone and say “you’re welcome” or “you could say excuse me.” They’ll throw me a crazed look, but I don’t care.
There are some things that are considered old-fashioned but that should never go out of style.