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courtesy_ralph waldo emerson

To the parents, educators, managers, and customer service people, please use the teachable moments while you can.

My coworker tells me about the differences between millennials and “old folks”(I am her mother’s age). We only have so long to be heard by our young, and peers, and that window is closing so much faster than ever.  That generational thing is simply not an excuse.

Yesterday, as I headed into the grocery store, a tall young man was walking opposite me in the narrow lane.  He walked while looking down at his phone.  He continued walking into me as if it were my fault that I had nowhere else to go and should get out of the way to avoid being bumped into.  As he looked down at his phone, and we were less than 10 inches apart, he never lifted his head.  Finally, in frustration, I said to him “Really? You are going to walk into me because of your phone?”  I had to sidestep towards a wall.  He just kept going.

This afternoon, I was waiting to pay almost $300 at an establishment.  Of course, it was not quite that simple.  First, the young woman could not check the price of something additional for purchase without a humph.  Then, she told me that my total bill would be $367.  I explained that it couldn’t be that number.  Agitated, she looked down at her computer  while I waited for her to reassess.  Then she told me that my bill would be $327. Again, I explained that two of the items were a specific price and my bill could not be that amount.  She argued with me, “No,” she said, “This is it.”  As I stood there, another employee (who made me regret not going to her in the first place) told her that I was correct.  She didn’t acknowledge that she had made a mistake.   But, after I continued to wait for her  to make the necessary changes, I still treated her with courtesy; I said “Thank you.”  She said “OK.”

Let me be clear.  OK is not a suitable reply to Thank You.  Not only is it rude in almost every circumstance, outside of someone saying “thanks” in sarcasm, but particularly so in customer service.  Did I leave with a bad feeling? Absolutely.  It makes me rethink spending my hard earned money there anytime soon.

As I drove home, I stopped at a 4-way stop.  Courtesy or law, whatever the motivator, each person stops and waits their turn.  However, the young driver did not stop to wait his turn. He plowed on through.  When I hit my horn, I was given a lovely fist and high-fingered salute.  At the next light, as I waited behind him, he was on his phone. Wanting to move away from him, I got in the second left turn lane.  As the light changed color, he stayed on his phone, and I made the turn.  Then, he came through the light starting on my right, moved behind me and moved to my left and cut me off.

Driving is not supposed to be the thing you do when you are NOT on your phone in a car. Driving is supposed to be the primary thing one does in a moving vehicle.  Computers and cell phones aren’t supposed to completely replace courteous human interaction.  Nor is someone’s age a qualification for entitlement.   At some time, someone must have tried to teach what courtesy is supposed to be and the most basic of communication forms.

It is my job to instill manners, courtesy and positive human interaction as a parent.  Not wanting someone to ask why my own child wasn’t raised right, I tried to share the customer service experience with my own millennial.  Well, the response I got was “I don’t need your lessons.  I’m doing just fine on my own.”

We are supporting many of these millennials financially, and otherwise, in the home, at work, and in the retail environment.  I have had some expensive lessons in rudeness in the last 24 hours, but I see that courtesy seems to be even more precious.


Have you had this kind of experience? What did you do?




  1. It is quite disheartening at times. Of course, there are the interactions that make it all worth while. It is frustrating to come across those of “entitlement” and rudeness. One can only wonder of humanity in a few generations from now.

  2. I agree with every bit of what you wrote- this is one of my pet peeves. I would write a letter to the head of the establishment where you made the purchase letting them know their employee reflects poorly on their business and reputation. I have really just come to believe it is an “all about me” world we now live in, it is the rare young person I meet with manners and though I hate it I find it too widespread to be able to do anything about it. I continue to use the manners I was taught because that is just who I am. It is a sad statement on where the world is now.

    • Yes. I am glad that you see this too, though sorry that you are experiencing this. I see so much selfishness and expectation. Basic communication skills seem to be lost. I am afraid if I complain to the manager, I will seem like one of those cranky customers, but I did think of that too. My mother absolutely would have. I agree, we need to behave with manners, rather than sinking to that kind of rudeness. But accepting it as the norm is disheartening.

  3. I agree that millennials are difficult i am one but the older variation .All in all it depends on how you were raised whether one really absorbed the values instilled in them like humility ,generosity kindness and that sense of responsibility.Though apart from how one was brought up there is the aspect of ones personality .

    • Thank you for sharing. It is really helpful to hear from someone who grew up as a millennial. Any advice for improving the relationships?

      • well for starters if you are spending time with family have a rule like no phones allowed during that time it will mean you will have to communicate verbally it maybe a small win but hey its a start

      • thank you for your suggestion!

  4. At times I do not know where manners and common courtesy has disappeared too.. Sympathies! Here it is the same too.. No one seems to have customer care anymore.

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