It's a matter of manners

2009-05-11 00:00

From where I sit, I keep thinking that if the municipalities had garbage trucks for picking up all those people who lack common decency, some of us would be passengers. Starting in public places such as taxi ranks, beaches, restaurants and offices, indecent behaviour is in abundance.

Take the case of daughter of my mother. At times, when her boob “derails” and heads for her armpit, she cannot resist the urge to reach into her brassiere and readjust. The decent thing would be to find a private spot to do this.

When it comes to queues, be it at the post office, in taxi ranks or just about anywhere, there are those who cannot control their impatience and jump the queue, ignoring those who came before. But everyone’s time is valuable. As if this is not enough, there are some of us who like stealing … parking spots that is. Yes, you know, you have probably done that before. If someone has their blinker on and is patiently waiting for a spot, it’s theirs. And should you pass a parking spot and somebody else is moving into it, it’s gone. Be decent enough to let it go.

Another page of indecent acts reveals the problems with some smokers. While you have a right to smoke, please be conscious of whose face your smoke is blowing into. And throwing the burning butt on the ground is even worse. Really, find an ashtray or rubbish bin — that thing is garbage and doesn’t form part of the decoration of our cities in preparation for the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

What of blowing your nose without a tissue? Yes, I have seen this several times. Blowing your nose into your hands as if it was some sort of hand lotion makes you a health hazard not only to yourself but also those with whom you shake hands. The same case applies to picking your nose. I once saw an adult treating her bogies as if they were some kind of chewing gum. This is really indecent. If you can carry your big diary everywhere you go or even a whole family of make-up items in your handbag, why not a small piece of tissue or a handkerchief?

I am also surprised at the lack of personal etiquette displayed by my brother from another mother. When it comes to placing an order with a waitress or waiter, he’s the first one to pick up the menu and turn a simple coffee meeting into a buffet, quite ignorant of the weight of the bill. When it comes to ordering the type and price of the meal — and the drink — the guest should follow the lead of the host, the person most likely to pay the bill, unless given a go-ahead to order whatever you want.

And several times, I have seen daughter of my mother opening up her make-up box and putting her face on while in a public lift. Refreshing your lip gloss after a meal or just checking if your wig is still there is one thing, but turning a public taxi or a lift into an emergency beauty salon is indecent. I would advise her to set her alarm 10 minutes earlier and do her make-up before leaving the house. A woman has to maintain a little mystique, you know.

Other things that bug me are men peeing on a wall and women pulling their thong from their butt crack. If it’s so uncomfortable that you have to dig in places you really shouldn’t, especially in public, it’s probably time to switch to something else that has more coverage.

And have you seen the way some people sit on benches? This goes for every gender. Sitting with your legs wide open is disgusting.

Remember, your personal attitude in any setting and how you present yourself will decide how people perceive you.

• Tiema Haji Muindi is a Kenyan journalist based in Durban.

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