Grunt – 12 March 2014

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I suppose good manners are regarded in some circles as rather an old-fashioned idea in this day and age of self-assertion, self-aggrandisement, and self-satisfaction. The concomitant idea that one should be considerate and compassionate to other people seems pretty much obsolete too. So it’s probably not surprising that a complete lack of concern is becoming increasingly obvious in modern society.
We were at one of the malls on Saturday morning when one of those young turks wearing the cap and driving the overly-large bakkie roared in, searching for parking. At that time – quite shortly after opening time – there were several open spaces, but this incredibly important creature parked so pompously that he took up two parking spaces, spaces that would be at a premium a little later in the morning. He strode off, still on his cellphone.
Which brings me to good manners and cellphones. I have to say I abhor the persistent intrusions these damned devices make into decent human conversation. I wish I had R10.00 for every time someone has said to me: "I’m sorry. I must take this call. I hope you don’t mind." Of course, I mind! It’s bloody rude to allow a phone call to interrupt someone in mid-sentence. Worse still, committee meetings, workshops, lectures, and any other organisational frolics should not come to a standstill because the chairperson receives a phone call.
And then there are those self-important people – male and female – who think of public toilets as their very own temporary office, sitting there ad infinitum while the queue of desperate souls struggling for control of their bowels and bladders has to listen to the inane jabber of the lavatory’s present incumbent. One female emerged telling the queue: "Important phone call. Couldn’t wait." Of course, there were several folks in the queue who also couldn’t wait – for equally urgent reasons.
And there’s the burgeoning habit of individuals climbing into their cars and lurching out backwards, oblivious to everyone else, while they dial someone. They’re handling two murder weapons: car and cellphone. Hey! Watch …! Call 911, will you?