Thursday, August 14, 2008

Can You Spare A Seat, Man?

A teenage boy was going for a seat near the back of a bus when his father stopped him, pointed to a woman in the front of the bus and said, "There's a lady standing. Never sit if a lady is standing." I was impressed and encouraged that there are still gentlemen who are raising gentlemen. They don't make them like they used to, a well mannered man is a rare breed these days. Maybe it's backlash or a misunderstanding of the feminist movement.  Maybe they don't want to offend today's woman, including today's elderly woman and today's pregnant woman. Whatever the reason, they're doing a wonderful job of showing off their rudeness at its best.

Our parents always told Yvette and me, "What you do reflects on us." These days men will race a woman to a seat, they will sit in sections reserved for the elderly or sit down and act like nothing even when a woman is standing in front of them.  That's not saying much for their parents. Boys take their cues from the people around them. Are we to assume that the man who doesn't offer a woman or elderly man a seat never saw anyone around him do the right thing?  

Poor manners are like viruses and we're in the throes of  an epidemic.  Just because women want equality doesn't mean we don't want a seat. Our feet get tired after trying to climb ladders day in and day out. James Baldwin once said that when you open your mouth in England, you're telling who your mother is, who your father is, you're telling your whole history just by the way you speak. We say when a man can't show a woman a simple courtesy, he's talking about his parents.  And we don't buy into the fact that many boys are being raised by women. Everything can't be our fault.

But we have to do the right thing too. When a man offers a his seat we should accept it graciously.  Don't say as I heard one lady say, "Thank you. Do I look that old?" She looked at me and said, "I guess I look old." I couldn't help myself, I turned to her and whispered,  "Why don't you just say thank you?" 

We have to allow men to show us their gentlemanly ways, it'll take a lot of wear and tear off our Manolos.  

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