Politeness is Weird

I’ve never believed all of it about our generation: the attention span, the laziness, the rudeness. But yesterday I was taking the train home for Christmas and I sat next to an old man.  As he moved his bag from the seat next to him and I sat down,  his phone started ringing. He answered, and then, after he had said hello, pulled the phone down from his ear and mouthed at me, “Sorry. I’ll be only a minute.”

I had no idea what he was talking about and I guess my face showed it, because he motioned towards his phone before continuing his conversation. Oh. And this is what I’m saying: I was taken aback. He was apologizing to me for talking on the phone.

“It’s fine,” I whispered, two minutes too late, “It’s really fine.”

I turned my headphones down and tested them to make sure no music was leaking out. I sat up straight. I smiled at the chair in front of me. I can be proper, I thought. I can be nice.

I never would have thought to apologize to someone for briefly talking on the phone on the train next to them. And maybe now I will, or maybe I won’t, but I think maybe it says something about me and about kids these days. Maybe chivalry is dead. I mean, I really felt my heart melting a little bit, and that’s just pathetic. Maybe we are the worst. Maybe I can’t be proper and will have to spend the rest of my life as someone who routinely puts her feet up where she definitely shouldn’t.

I tried to find a lesson for this post but couldn’t find one I could stick with. I tried politeness, but I’ve never been a huge fan of politeness for its own sake. For me it falls under the umbrella of niceness and just general humanness, but that seems too broad and abstract for a blog post about an apology on a train. There’s always phone etiquette, which I guess we could go with, but it might not apply anymore, for our generation. (By our generation I’m starting to think I mean any generation at all.)

Maybe it’s just nice that on my train ride home for Christmas my hear melted a little bit, and leave it at that. Merry Christmas Y’all!

-Devin

Oh also–when I got home I had two days worth of laundry to do. TWO DAYS. It’s OK though because this means I’m saving my quarters for a Starbucks when the holidays are over and I’m depressed and don’t find hidden meanings in train convos.

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