Jones' Outlook

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Rules of a Gentleman

My grandfather passed away a few years ago but I had a special bond with him. My grandmother always said he and I were alike in a lot of ways. I always looked up to my grandpa, and one of the things that he taught both my father and I was how to be a gentleman.

I grew up instructed in basic things like opening a door for another person, and the proper way to shake hands. There are times that I slip, but I try to act like a gentleman. Nowadays, however, it seems that people feel like you are playing an angle or after something when using what I was taught as proper manners.

It's sad when I see people just not acknowledging people anymore, or letting the door slam shut on someone right behind them. One thing that drives me nuts is people pulling up into the driveways and honking for someone to come out. Is it that much trouble to get out of your car and walk a few feet to the door? If that's how you arrive for a date, you don't deserve one.

One time when I was still in school and was working at a restaurant, another worker and I got stuck behind late to clean. It was dark and I offered to walk my co-worker to her car because she told me that she didn't like walking alone at that hour. My manager at the time jumped all over me, saying I violated company rules. It seems only employees of the same gender were supposed to escort each out of the restaurant. Yet there was no other female present at the time.

So I did what I think my grandfather would have done - walked her to her car anyway.

It seems backward that society has gotten to the point that being gentleman is not well received. But why?

I think it's because men have allowed themselves to be portrayed as always having an angle to get with someone. Yes men have done that but I know just as many women who have done the same thing.

I have also heard the argument that women like to feel independent and don't want doors open for them. Fine - but I was taught to hold it open for both men and women. I'm not an expert on feminism, so my failsafe is to treat men, women and children all with the same basic kindness.

I think we as society have become so jaded that manners seems to be to be on the endangered list.

So when I have children, I'll teach them the manners that my family has installed in me, opening doors for people, offering their seat to someone else when you can stand, and so on.

I'm far from perfect, and no one has perfect manners all the time, but if we can't treat each other with basic courtesy in our own neighborhoods, can we really expect our nations to treat each with peace.

* Contact the columnist at jjones@stormlakepilottribune.com