Thursday, November 22, 2007


“In olden days, a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking, but now, God knows, ANYTHING GOES!” (Cole Porter)

Cole Porter wrote that song more than 50 years ago. It was true then, and is even more true today. The younger generation has always deemed it necessary to shock the older generation with their radical behaviour. From the hippies to whatever they are called these days, this has been true. (Hell, probably the cavemen were shocked at the behaviour of their cave-ettes!)
But this is not what the Bag Lady wanted to talk about today. (Good segue, right?) The Bag Lady wants to talk about manners. Etiquette. Emily Post-type stuff.
Some of you may have read the Bag Lady’s guest post over at Leah's blog back in September about the baby gift. Would it shock you to know that the Bag Lady still has not received a written thank-you for that gift?
The Bag Lady also gave a wedding gift to some neighbours back in August that has never been acknowledged. The Bag Lady wonders if customs have changed and she just didn’t get the memo?
Now the Bag Lady realizes that people lead much busier lives than ever before, and she also realizes that a lot of her ideas are rather out-dated; some may even say quaint. But surely-to-goodness, one hopes that doesn’t mean that a simple thank-you has gone out of style!

The Bag Lady was raised to appreciate and acknowledge things done for her. She says thank-you when someone holds a door open for her, or when a clerk in a store hands her her change. She also makes a point of holding doors for someone entering behind her, and has even been known to let someone with just a couple items go ahead of her in the check-out line at the grocery store. Old-fashioned? Perhaps. Drop something when you are standing close to her and she’ll pick it up for you (may take her longer than if you just did it yourself, but she gets the job done!)

She has noticed a change in the climate of the city nearest to where she lives. Alberta is oil country, and we have experienced a boom in population over the last few years. This has led to an increase in crime, unfortunately, and it also seems to have led to a decrease in manners. In previous years, the Bag Lady has had doors swing shut in her face, has had people cut in front of her in line-ups, has had parking spots stolen from under her nose. She makes a point of not going to town at night because heaven only knows what they do there after dark!
Lately, however, the oil companies have slowed their explorations around the area where the Bag Lady lives, and this has, somehow, corresponded to an increase in the courteous behaviour that was so lacking a few months ago. The Bag Lady wonders what that is all about?

There was an article in the Canadian Reader’s Digest (November, 2007) in which they tested the politeness of different cities across Canada. The most courteous city was Moncton, NB, which, by the way, is where the Bag Lady’s mother was born, not surprisingly. The least courteous city, surprisingly, was our nation’s capitol, Ottawa!
The nearest large city to the Bag Lady ranked third, and the other large city in the province where she lives ranked second, so it looks as though the Bag Lady lives in a relatively courteous province! Somehow, that doesn’t make her feel any better about not receiving thank you notes for gifts. But perhaps the Bag Lady is hopelessly old-fashioned and a little out of touch.

What about the area where you live? Are people courteous and polite? Or do they let doors swing shut in your face, or perhaps do even worse things? What about simple things like thank-you notes? Is that a custom that has gone out of style? The Bag Lady certainly hopes not.


Crabby McSlacker said...

It's funny, whenever we travel to Canada, we always note how much more polite and friendly Canadians seem than most Yanks.

But that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of really considerate people wherever we go--it's just that the buttheads stand out so much they can distract us from all the nice people we encounter!

the Bag Lady said...

Funny how buttheads stand out, isn't it?
The Reader's Digest did another survey awhile ago in which they tested the politeness of cities around the world, and New York came in first! Toronto was third. So there, you Amurikans can feel superior!

Terrie Farley Moran said...

No. No. Only we New Yorkers can feel superior. ;)

Seriously, before I read the comments I was going to say the following:

1. I was appalled by the rudeness of the recipient at the baby shower as we discussed on Leah's blog. Some people just don't get it and they never will. Good manners don't cost anything, so why not use them?

2. Here in New York we are always rushing and jumping in front of each other to hail taxis and stuff, so people think we are rude, but if you really have a problem--lost tourists are our specialty--we will knock each other over to be the first to help you out.

In other parts of the country, people love to smile and say good morning to perfect strangers, which we think is a rude invasion of privacy, not to mention a waste of time. But if you fall on the street, we will pick you up, buy you a bottle of water and offer to take you to the emergency room, while advising you never to get in a car with a stranger. Of course you can get into my car. I'm not a stranger, I'm the nice lady who picked you up off the ground!

And dfBag Lady, I am not the least bit surprised that you are so well mannered, as we are so alike in so many other ways, I just assumed it was so.

Gotta go salt the eggplant.

Hilary said...

Very quiet in a predominantly US blogosphere.. just we Canadians on the prowl. Perhaps I should try to come up with a post myself.

The buttheads do indeed stand out, which kind of tells me that perhaps the majority of people encountered really are rather polite.

But I'm with you.. I was raised with the notion that a thank you note should always be given, unless of course you were thanked in person at the time.

As for generally poor manners in public.. I'm not seeing a lot of that either. I'm in a fairly large city, which has grown very quickly in the past 20 years and though I can't say that people are outstandingly polite, neither are any incidents of poor manners coming to mind.

Except of course when Crabby slammed the door in my face on her way out of the comments section.. those Amurikans! ;)

Happy Turkeying, Crabby. :)

the Bag Lady said...

dfTerrie - how true! (the part about how alike we are...;)
Having never been to New York (even though her bags are there, tee hee!) The Bag Lady can't comment on the politeness of the people there, but if they are all like you, it must be wonderful! Of course, the Bag Lady realizes that there are rude people everywhere. She is just a little disappointed that some of them seem to have somehow entered her circle of acquaintances. Sadly, we can't pick our friends' spouses.

the Bag Lady said...

Hi, Hil! It is rather quiet around the blogs, so get writing! The Bag Lady actually has a few minutes to spare today (sort of), so is slightly disappointed that everyone else seems to be busy with real life!
As far as thank-you notes go, the Bag Lady was taught that for certain things (shower gifts, wedding gifts, etc.), in spite of a spoken thank-you at the time, it is correct to send a written thank-you. The people who spent time, energy and money on something for you for an occasion that YOU chose to create deserve to have at least the time it would take to write a little note spent on them. (oops, that was rather convoluted - sorry.)
Of course, the Bag Lady is not surprised, after the lukewarm response her gift generated at the shower, that she didn't receive any further acknowledgement.
The lack of response for the wedding gift, though, is troublesome. The Bag Lady dropped it off at the reception, and now wonders if it got lost, or misplaced, or stolen. If that is the case, the Bag Lady wouldn't want the neighbours to think she didn't buy them a gift...but to ask if they got it seems a little crass. Perhaps the young lady in question is just a little tardy with her thank-you notes...such a quandry.

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

Texans are generally pretty polite, although most people in Houston are from someplace else. It's the thoughtless behavior that really irks me-- the people who park their shopping cart blocking an aisle and then walk away without looking around first to see if they're inconveniencing others. That sort of thing. It happens all the time.

It seems like there's a lot of accidental rudeness out there but I don't see a lot of it done on purpose.

the Bag Lady said...

Bunnygirl, that is too true! The Bag Lady has noticed a lot of 'thoughtlessness' - does this mean that a lot of people don't have a brain in their head, or that they plain just don't care if they are inconveniencing others?
The Bag Lady goes out of her way to NOT inconvienience others...perhaps she is the brainless one!

Reb said...

I have noticed here in the third most polite city in Canada, that it is the people of my own generation that let doors slam in your face. The early twenty somethings are unfailingly polite at holding doors and seemed surprised when I say thank you. It's kind of backasswards!

the Bag Lady said...

Hi, Reb: maybe those young'uns are looking at us and thinking how their parents taught them to be nice to old folk!! Sheesh. Wish the Bag Lady hadn't thought of she feels old.