I miss the good old days …

No question there’s a lot about the 21st century to be excited about, but there’s a lot I miss about days gone by.

Last Thursday I went to see the Christian Dior exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum here, in Toronto. Every garment, whether for daytime or evening, was shown with gloves — short, mostly black ones with suits and dresses and white, cream and occasionally black, long, above-the-elbow ones for formal wear.

I remember that from when I was growing up. My mother, grandmothers, aunts, their friends, all women in fact always wore gloves when they went out. Even little girls had gloves. I did. And everyone — men, women and children — always dressed for the occasion.

There were no such things as yoga pants. My mother wore a dress or a skirt and sweater set to go grocery shopping. She wore suits or day dresses, and often a hat, when she went to lunch with her friends and even when she went to the hairdresser. When I was with her, so did I. My father always wore a suit, shirt and tie to the office and even to casual dinners and movies. Shoes were always polished to a high gloss and running shoes and shorts and jeans were confined to bike-riding, playing in the park and other sports-related activities.

Being appropriately dressed was a sign of respect as much as anything else, for where you were going and who you were with. We were a civil society; and no, I wasn’t born in the dark ages, although some times it feels that way.

With that, came manners. We had manners back then. We said “please” and “thank you.” We didn’t interrupt, we didn’t shout over people, we didn’t swear, we didn’t talk back. Men held doors open for women. We respected our elders.

And that didn’t mean we were wimps.

We’ve been going downhill for a long time, I’ve blogged about it and whined about it to my friends for years. But the Donald has kicked it up to notches we’d never, in our wildest imagination, ever have thought possible.

Sadly, bad behaviour is contagious, and it’s spread like wildfire. Being rude, crude and mean is the new normal. And it’s not confined to politicians.

It’s a rude and unhelpful “service” person on the other end of the telephone, it’s the teenager on the bus who doesn’t offer his seat to a woman or senior citizen. It’s the sales person who continues to talk to colleague while you’re cooling your heels at the counter. It’s all those who never answer their phones, don’t return calls and hide behind email.

It’s the people who avert their eyes and keep walking when a stranger slips and falls on an icy sidewalk. It’s the boss who berates an employee in public. It’s kids who taunt and bully others and the jerks who push and shove their way to the front of a line.

It’s the impatient drivers who put their hands on their horns and leave them there for what seems like forever, caring not a whit that they are, quite literally, disturbing everyone’s peace.; and accomplishing nothing, by the way. And it’s all those who can’t disagree or debate without pointing fingers and turning it into an angry argument.

Then, yesterday morning I happened upon this article in the Washington Post. The piece is about a book, written by two former White House social secretaries, that’s just been published. It pretty much echoes my feelings and also offers up some suggestions on how we can all do our part “to make an uncivil world more civil.”

Read the article, it’s good. And as for the book, I think it should be required reading for anyone and everyone — from five year old kids to anyone who still has a pulse, and enough of their marbles to understand what they’re reading.




14 thoughts on “I miss the good old days …

  1. Yes I am an old doggie..I miss that civility..not be to girdled up but dressed to respect the occasion. I still have a box of white kid gloves in different lengths and buttons in a drawer..probably n3ver to be worn again! The biggest bitch I have is trying to get off an elevator while people are shoving you to get in. I usually say as I am forcing my way to get thru them to get off,”excuse me” which usually brings a “ is she crazy,bitch.” Look!

    Donald of course is so classless and not even a semblance of good manners! Sent from my iPad


  2. With you all the way. Though I didn’t wear gloves, we dressed smart on Sundays and changed our clothes when we got home from school. I was brought up to say please and thank you, respect my elders and other peoples property, write thank you letters. We’ve watched customers not say a word to the cashier ringing up their hundred plus pounds worth of groceries, seen people more intent on their smartphones than the person talking to them, and yes, many not wanting to get involved should someone fall in the street. Human Race? yeah, a Race to the front and woe betide anyone who gets in their way.

  3. That’s a wonderful article. Thank you for sharing it. I’ve been hearing about that book and am eager to read it. Yes, there’s a lot to be said about “old-fashioned” civility and good manners. The good news is that just as rudeness, incivility, and bad behavior are contagious, so is kindness. So if we think about which epidemic we want to spread, I choose kindness.

  4. coincidently Fransi the discussion on dress, manners, courtesy was covered on a lunch time live radio programme on this side of the pond today so it is everywhere like an epidemic going shopping in pj’s talking on hand held devices while at cash desks – both customer & assistant I could go on and on but it would be bad manners to do so. Chris.

  5. I remember watching a rerun of I Love Lucy when Lucy insisted on changing her clothes to ride the subway. I also remember my mother’s difficulty in adjusting to the time when girls were first allowed to wear pants to school. It is amazing where we are now compared to that time period. We should remember, though, there were some pretty awful behaviors tolerated then; unscrupulous politics (Watch “All The Way”), bullying in schools, domestic violence and discrimination. The difference is how much of it was kept behind closed doors. Now, nothing is private. In some ways, that’s a good thing.

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