Common Courtesy

Common courtesy no longer exists.

For me, common courtesy is something everyone should use every day. It is saying things like, “please”, “thank you,” “excuse me”, “yes, please,” and “no, thank you.” Common courtesy is doing things like holding the door open for someone whose hands are full, or helping someone up when they have fallen and asking if they are okay and not laughing. Common courtesy is giving up your seat so a pregnant woman or an elderly person can sit. Common courtesy is choosing our words carefully when we want to speak and not using inappropriate language in mixed company. Common courtesy is calling my parent’s friends Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so and not by their first names… even at my age.

I guess you could say I am old fashioned. I must be. I turned 59 last month so my thinking is probably outdated. That’s it! Also, all of the things my mother taught me when I was a kid were wrong because she taught me all of those things I mentioned were common courtesy. And to think I taught them to my children! What was I thinking? How could I dare to expect my grandchildren or anyone I interact with treat me with common courtesy. After all, this is the 21st Century…we no longer need to bother with COMMON COURTESY! Do we?

As most of you know, I am a retired middle school teacher. I loved my students to death when I was teaching and sometimes I miss the daily interaction I had with them! So, on occasion I substitute teach in one of our local school districts. Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to sub in the high school from which my son graduated in 2006. It is a great school and in the past, I have never had an issue with any of the students that attend it. However, this past Thursday made me question my judgement and myself. Here’s what happened.

A group of seniors entered the classroom. Several of the men and woman were wearing their Junior Navy ROTC uniforms. As they took their seats, I mentioned they needed to put their cell phones away just as their teacher had told me in the lesson plans she left. One of the students in uniform didn’t like the fact that I was asking him to do this and he mumbled something under his breath. All I could make out of what he mumbled was the f-word and how he was not going to put his phone away. I politely asked again for everyone to store their cell phones when he again mumbled something using the f-word. I calmly walked over to him and said,

“Excuse me? And you want to be a Navy officer?”

With an air of rectitude he replied, “Yes ma’am. I have a mouth like a sailor,” and smiled at me.

I leaned closer to him and said, “That is totally unacceptable. I am a former Army officer and I never used that type of language when I was in uniform out of respect for what it represented. It is very inappropriate. Now it isn’t as if I have never said it, but we are in mixed company and whenever we are in mixed company, we should always speak as if our grandmother is in the room. Nor did I ever use it when I spoke to anyone that outranked me or anyone of a lower rank. Also, as I teacher I never used it in the classroom with my students. I also never used it with my boss. It is inappropriate plain and simple as that.   So, I believe you owe me an apology before you leave today.”

The young man retorted, “I have one more class today, but I think I am going to leave now,” and he proceeded to pick up his things and leave the classroom.

I was left briefly dumbfounded by his actions. I would have been good with a simple apology. We all slip up sometimes. However, because of his arrogance, I made sure to turn him in to the discipline office during my free period.

When I entered the discipline office, the Dean of Discipline greeted me. I briefly told him the name of the student I was reporting, the fact the student used the f-word in class and walked out when I asked him to apologize. The Dean’s response was, “What do you mean he used the f-word?” Briefly, I moved from feeling offended by the student’s behavior to apologetic for feeling that way. I felt as if my integrity was coming into question. What was to explain? I said precisely what had occurred the first time. Did the Dean not hear me correctly? I again began to explain in exact detail what happened. As I did so, I realized the problem wasn’t with me. It was with the Dean.  I ended with, “As a former military officer, I find his behavior inappropriate since he was in his ROTC uniform.” I left his office.

Later, I remembered why I retired in the first place. Discipline in the building where I taught full-time had been slowly declining in the five years before I left. It seemed as if the building’s administrators were afraid to stand up to students and parents. On the rare occasion when I sent a student to the office, I was the one with the issue. I was supposed to overlook inappropriate, disruptive behavior. There was always an excuse.  I felt I couldn’t do my job effectively anymore because of the lack of discipline in the building, so I retired. My days as a substitute teacher were now ending. When I have to justify to an administrator why I think a student needs disciplined for saying the f-word in class and walking out, it is time for me to move on. Since when has swearing and getting up and walking out of school become okay?

I saw this meme on Facebook the other day.  It says how I feel.

12705561_1734886710088933_995884833398752580_n[1]On to my card for this week.  I think the Birthday Blooms stamp set is one of my favorite out of the Occasion Catalog.  I water colored this one.  I stamped the image on vellum using  Memento Tuxedo Black ink and then water colored it using Aqua Painters.  Then I fussy cut the image.  Hope you like it…

Birthday Blooms-1Hope you enjoyed your visit here today.  Until next time…

Happy Stamping!













2 thoughts on “Common Courtesy

  1. Really interesting what you say about common courtesy. My children are 4 and almost 2 and I always insist on please and thank you and being respectful. It’s not old fashioned just good manners and you were right to not expect that language in the situation. (Also your card is beautiful!) Charlotte

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