About The Author
D. R. Prescott has written a novel, a collection of short stories, a nonfiction book, a collection of essays, planetarium show/display scripts, two family histories, technical articles and business plans as well as written for and edited several newsletters.
Awards and published work include Writers' Journal, Long Story Short, Taj Mahal Review literary journal, The Orange County Register, Writer's Digest, and Writing.com and four books among other challenges.
As a former aerospace executive and planetarium program director, Prescott currently writes and explores life in Orange, California.
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"Sentience can be annoying."-DRP Abt. 1990
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Since 2008, Prescott has been a regular contributor of
essays and short stories to
The Taj Mahal Review Literary Journal
Get your copies now at: http://tajmahalreview.com/
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D. R. Prescott

         I began thinking about manners at a mall during one of those inevitable trips to a public restroom. I entered a regular stall and began to think about it. Comfortable? Well, don’t let this topic get you internally, or eternally, bound up. As crude and unsophisticated as it may seem, it strikes me that there might be a connection between a very basic biological function and thinking. There are few things that humans do more routinely than read or think on the commode.

         Why would I think about manners at a time like that? There really is a good reason contrary to what you may be thinking. Upon entering the restroom, I saw an obviously disabled person waiting patiently for the one handicap stall to become available. There were several regular stalls unoccupied. The handicapped stall door opened and out walked a twenties-looking man looking like the epitome of health. He had a newspaper in his hand, gave the wheelchair-bound fellow a nasty frown and never said a word of apology as he rushed out of the restroom without even washing his hands.

         You have probably heard that chivalry has passed-on. I must confess that I have come to the conclusion that manners are close behind, if not gasping their final breath. How many times have you walked through a shopping mall and some inept human cuts in front of you without even a ‘Sorry.’ or an ‘Excuse me?’ Maybe I am old-fashioned, but where I come from passing in front of person and interfering with their space required acknowledgement of that person’s existence and your intrusion. It was common courtesy.

         Respect your elders, right? With the harried pace of life today, the slow, the weak, the crippled and the old are fair game. People seem to have lost social graces and simple consideration for others. Holding doors for others happens occasionally, but not nearly as often as in the past. People seem to be oblivious of how rude and crude they are. Automobiles and manners are an oxymoron.

         How do we get people back to a more gentle approach to each other in a society seemingly determined to remove any hint of good manners? Here are some ideas that you may use at your own risk to raise awareness of other’s lack of manners. If you do use an idea here, you are on your own. Discretion is advised when applying these retaliatory tactics to the ill-mannered.

         Number 1: Smack the offender on one of their inconsiderate shins if you carry a cane. However, make sure that the action appears to be accidental because of your weakened condition. Mastering this skill may take a little time, but sooner or later you will become adept and leave excellent bruises in your wake as reminders to the inconsiderate. It's all in the wrist.

         Number 2: Say something derogatory about the inconsiderate oaf. Use this technique only if you are sure that they are smaller and weaker than you. There is nothing worse, or more dangerous, than underestimating your opponent.

         Number 3: Smile broadly at people with strollers who cut you off without an apology. Follow with pointing out how cute it is that all their children look like their parents, ugly!

         Number 4: Say “Excuse me!” loudly and in a threatening voice. Unfortunately as with the third tactic, the backlash from this tactic may be an obscene gesture.

         Number 5: Cough on them grotesquely and tell the offender that it’s not too contagious, but sometimes fatal.

         Number 6: Sniff the air and grimace. Then, look at them like they stink!

         Number 7: Stand facing the back of the elevator instead of face-forward like most people do. Stare at the offender in a manner to induce the optimum discomfort.

         Number 8: Slow down placing your items on the checkout conveyor if the person behind you gets pushy or tried to cut you off with their cart to get in line first. Then, write a check.

         Number 9: Pull away ever so slowly from a stop sign if the impatient person behind you jumps too quickly on their horn. However, use cautiously. Road rage is limitless inconsideration and potentially lethal.

         Remember, these are only little devices to make you feel better but they might have the effect of changing people’s attitude just a tiny bit. Could it become a butterfly effect where one person has a tiny impact here that grow and grows until we are all more considerate of each other the world over? Excuse me, I think I may have just over-reached.

         Manners may be the difference between being civilized and uncivilized. In a society apparently determined to dehumanize as much as possible, there is only one thing left for the individual to control, how we act toward one another. If the current trend continues, are we headed toward becoming computerized, self-serving automatons devoid of manners?

         Find an empty stall and think about it. As I sat in that restroom pondering manners, I think I had an epiphany of sorts. Manners may be the difference between a good day and a bad day, between peace of mind and an ulcer, between happiness and discontent. One considerate deed a day may keep social decay away.

         I hope you are moved.

About 870 words

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© Copyright 2007 D. R. Prescott (donprescott at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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' Copyright 2008 D. R. Prescott (UN: donprescott at Writing.Com). All rights reserved. D. R. Prescott has granted Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work. Questions or Comments? E-mail to prescottdc@sbcglobal.net
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