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Common courtesy should become common again

By Katherine Holt

Growing up, my parents always made a consistent effort to instill the “golden rule” in me, ensuring that I was always kind to everybody who I crossed paths with no matter their race, ethnicity, occupation or economic status.

Saying things like “please” and “thank you” were the most basic things I learned when I first entered social situations, and so I have always expected others to abide by common courtesy too. But as I become more independent and experience more exposure to daily human interaction, I’ve slowly begun to realize that these “common” courtesies really aren’t so common anymore.

Last semester, I went to the Ewing Diner for a late-night meal. When our waitress came to take our order, she introduced herself and asked how we were doing. I responded that I was doing fine, and asked her how she was doing as well, as I always have in the past when anyone greets me.

I was caught off guard when the waitress gave me a funny look and told me that I had made her night simply by completing the exchange and asking her how she was doing. The waitress told me that almost nobody says “good, how are you” anymore, and that a typical response would be for people to just reply “good” or just ignore her entirely and begin reciting their order.

I almost couldn’t believe her when she told me this — it just seemed to me that asking somebody how they were doing was an extremely common greeting.

Just recently while sitting in class, I found an opportunity to see if the waitress was right. Perhaps certain things I found to be common courtesies were not even used by most people.

I have a professor who asks everybody how they are doing while calling attendance, asking, for example, “Jenny, how are you today?” As soon as I heard the first three people respond solely with “good,” I decided to stay alert and see whether or not a single person in the class would respond with “good, how are you?”

Not a single student, excluding myself, did this. My name was called around the middle of attendance, and I thought for sure that after I set this example that perhaps others would follow. However, nobody else decided to ask the professor how he was doing in return.

I have also noticed few people hold the door for the person behind them.

During my first semester at the College, I would always stand utterly stunned when a student who clearly saw me walking right behind them would slam the door in my face after entering a building. Although most people typically hold the door, it was extremely surprising to see how many did not.

If you want to observe how often people generally practice common courtesy in public, try listening to those around you in the dining hall or your local Starbucks to see how many people say “please” and “thank you” when ordering their food. Many people will, but I have observed many others, especially those who are college-aged, say nothing.

Try to remember that while technology gives people so many opportunities to communicate quickly without thinking, common courtesy should never be something that becomes obsolete. Kindness will never go out of style, and nobody is ever “too cool” to show compassion or appreciation.

Students share opinions around campus

“Do you hold the door for the person behind you?”

Daniel Ruiz, a freshman journalism and professional writing major. (Clare McGreevy / Opinions Editor)

“I was taught to do that growing up. It’s common courtesy.”

Teresa Dinh, a junior biology major. (Katherine Holt / Opinions Assistant)

“Yes, I always hold the door!”


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