I work in a retirement town. More than eighty percent of the people you meet are over the age of 65 – even the shopping center steps away from my work has only one store that caters to a demographic under the age of 50. On the two days a week I am here, I am surrounded by older people – driving, walking through the parking lot, sitting at the food court in the shopping center. The only change is at noon when teenagers on their lunch break swarm the food court in the shopping center.
And in the six years of working in the area, I’ve realized a shocking fact: Older people are rude.
On a regular basis, I will hold doors for people, give up my seat or table for someone who is more in need, pause to help them load groceries into their car – and most of the time, I do not receive a single thank you. Or even a smile.
On the other hand, I’ve done the same things for teenagers, young-to-middle-age adults and have received smiles, thank yous and expressions of gratitude. I have had young men hold the door for me but an older man in his 70s rush ahead of me to get to the door faster, and then proceed to let it slam in my face.
Of course, we do not perform kind gestures for praise – however, saying thank you should be ingrained in us – it’s just common courtesy.
And yet, I still hear the world complain about the younger generation – that they are rude, inconsiderate and ill mannered.
This morning, on my way to work, an older man fingered me. Why? Because he was driving almost 20 miles under the speed limit downhill, and I got in the other lane to pass him. I did not tailgate, honk, or make any obscene gestures. I simply changed lanes and passed him at the posted speed limit. And yet, when he caught up to me at a particularly slow light and he drove past in the right-hand turn lane, he fingered me. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been fingered by a person in their 20s, 30s or 40s..Of course, I’m not trying to generalize. I realize there are incredibly sweet and polite older ones and that there are ill-mannered rude younger ones. But, it bothers me how the world has decided that the lack of manners is solely a problem amongst the later generations.
From where I stand looking in, being polite and considerate and appreciative are qualities we all need to work on. We all should be quick to smile at strangers, offer a helping hand, hold a door, say thank you. We all need to be better people – not just the young, or not just the old.
The whole world needs to make the conscious effort until it’s ingrained in all of us – till we do it without need for thought.
To me, that’s the kind of world we want our children to grow up in.