I felt totally sorry for the little old lady who was confronted by a younger and much larger man at the grocery store. I felt sorry for her because I have been in the same situation myself and was totally embarrassed. She was walking out of the store and the man was entering at the same time. He stopped the lady and they exchanged pleasantries. Then he uttered this question, “You don’t have the foggiest idea who I am, do you?”
I hate it when someone asks me that question because it emphasizes and underlines my lack of memory. I am already embarrassed that I can’t recall their name, and then they heap more coals on my head with that question. As we age sometimes our brain has a “blip” and just does not work for some reason. But, back to the little old lady at the grocery store.
I wanted to butt in and suggest a couple of responses that she could use on the rude guy but bit my lip and kept quiet. She could have said, “Yes, I know you but I thought you were still in jail.” Or perhaps this one, “Yes, I know you but I heard you had been killed in a shooting accident.” I think he might have gotten the message.
I think rude questions like the man asked the lady stem from a lack of etiquette. Now that’s a French word you never hear today. Etiquette is a first cousin to “manners”, another word in short supply today. Webster’s dictionary defines “manners” as: a. the socially correct way of acting; b. the prevailing customs, social conduct, and norms of a specific society.
If the man who asked the woman a rude question had a good handle on his manners, he should have said something like this to her, “My name is Bill Smith and you might not remember me, but I remember you well.” Now, isn’t that much nicer than emphasizing her lack of memory?
The following are quotes from a number of famous people made over the years concerning “manners”:
Evil manners will, like watered grass, grow up very quickly.
Manners are like spices. You can’t make a meal of them, but they add a great deal to the meal’s enjoyment.
Manners are like the cipher in arithmetic. They may not be of much value in themselves, but they are capable of adding a great deal to the value of everything else.
Our manners, like our faces, though ever so beautiful, must differ in their beauty.
The pleasure of courtesy is like the pleasure of good dancing.
Manners are like an air cushion – there may be nothing to it, but they ease our jolts wonderfully.
Good manners are as polite as patients in a dentist’s waiting room.
Manners are as soft as wool.
Yes, manners help us through the day – everything from a quick greeting, to waiting in line, to eating a meal, to how you look. No one wakes up in the morning, looks in the mirror and says, “I think I’ll be rude all day today.” Yet, when we are in a hurry or dealing with strangers, we don’t always use the manners we know we should. It’s not just about knowing hygiene manners, courtesy manners, or cultural norm manners; it’s about being intentional in their use. See what a difference even the simplest courtesies can make to your day-to-day interactions. Those of us with fading memories will surely appreciate it, especially if we can’t recall your name at the moment.