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Social Graces

What ever happened to social graces?  You know, the things that were drilled into our heads as toddlers.  Always say please.  Always say thank you, and the one that has really fallen by the wayside: ALWAYS SAY EXCUSE ME!



I understand we live in a hurried society.  Everyplace is crowded and people are always in a hurry.  I get that we move at a faster pace than we did in the seventies, but come on!  When was the last time somebody gave you the “head nod” when they needed to get in front of you in traffic?  When was the last time you were driving and let someone get over in front of you?  Did they even bother to throw up the obligatory “thank you” hand gesture in the rear view mirror?  Were you hot, or did you just let it go? 

I must admit I often try to catch someone slipping and jump in front of them when I find myself in the wrong lane.  I have been known to cut someone off for the sake of not having to go around the block or ride an extra exit.  I totally get that sometimes road rage and rush hour traffic do not allow for courteous drivers.  It’s hard to be courteous when you are trying to navigate your exit of the Lincoln Tunnel.  I respect the fact that you have to get in where you fit in and sometimes that means no using your turn signal. 

Do you have a problem with people that don’t say “excuse me” when they knowingly bump into you? What about the person that lets their child with no behavior run loose in the grocery store?  Have you ever almost run the little BeBe over with your cart, and then the parent fails to acknowledge that their lack of parenting almost caused a clean up on aisle five!  Again I ask; what happened to social graces? 

When did it become okay to leave some waiting with no regard for their personal time?  Everyone has that “late friend”.  The person in the crew that you know will be late, so you pad the time of every event to allow for his or her tardiness.  You know they are “punctually challenged”, but they mean well.  Then you have the person that shows up late with the “and what” look.  It’s nothing short of rude, and another lacking social grace.  In Atlanta, there are several restaurants that will not seat you until the entire party is present.  We all know this, so when you get invited to a birthday dinner party at Strip, if the Evite says the party starts at eight, do not keep people waiting.  If it’s 7:55 and you are not parking your car at Atlantic Station, call someone and tell them your exact ETA and give them the option of waiting. 

Everyone’s time is valuable and whether you’ve been invited to dinner at someone’s house or a restaurant, they gave you a start time for a reason.  Don’t take it upon yourself to make everyone else wait because you are socially inept and punctually challenged.  Since we are on the subject of time, RSVP is a French term that translates to Respond Please in English.  If you get an invitation that requests an RSVP by a certain date, failure to respect said date is another example of a lacking social grace.  If someone thought enough of you to invite you to a function, the very least you can do is let them know (in a timely fashion) whether or not you’ll be attending!



I don’t know where we went wrong with social graces?  When did we stop saying please and excuse me?  When did it become okay to ignore people or disrespect their time?  I guess since we are no longer in the running for Good Citizenship Awards and no one is grading us on how well we play with others, these momentary lapses in social graces are becoming the norm for a lot of us.  I hope you’ll take a moment to reflect on the last 48 hours and evaluate yourself.  If you were given a grade for Social Graces would you get an “S” for Satisfactory,  an “I” for Improvement Needed,  or a “U” for Unsatisfactory Performance? 



July 2, 2007 - Posted by | Society


  1. I will admit and give myself a score of unsatisfactory when it comes to my driving. I must admit the more I drive, I find myself full of displaced road rage due to something which may have frustrated me from another occurence–and I believe for some reason, this is my only release. I simply loose control when I get behind the wheel, sadly enough. Just yesterday, I caught myself needing a reality check as my daughter began to cry because according to her, I scare her when I drive–yikes. So if anyone has information of a good therapist in the Maryland area for anger management, please do not hesitate to share. However, in all other aspects of civility, I am constantly using my social graces–please, thank you and my apologies– to be a great example to my offspring–go figure!

    Comment by Irving20737 | July 2, 2007

  2. I use my social graces basically all the time when I drive because it irritates the hell out of me when someone does not acknowledge that I just let them get in front of me. On the other hand I am the late friend. I get to work and church on time everthing else falls by the waist side the majority of the time. However, I do not give the “and what” look; I give the “sorry girl” you know I am slow look.

    Comment by Nichelle | July 2, 2007

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