I always got a C in Conduct in elementary school; I'm sure talking out loud in class had a lot to do with it. I never knew when to shut up. I still don't, but my behavioral conduct was never in question. I was polite and knew how to mind my manners. The penalties for doing otherwise were harsh.
Common courtesies, proper behaviors and good manners were not anything I rebelled against. I learned early on that you catch more flies with honey, and that lesson has remained with me all these years, barring a few times when temporary insanity caused me to let the crap fly. But, I knew if you were sweet, kind, considerate and acted appropriately people were nice to you. I always beamed when I'd overhear someone say, "My...what a nice child", because don't we know that the norm is whenever someone thought of poor manners, young kids came to mind.
There are exceptions to everything.
In dealing with the public over the course of the past decade I've learned that there's been a massive generation turnaround to earn the title of mannerless. It's the older guys! It's the 60's to early 70's age group that seems to think no one is worthy of a simple please, thank you, or you're welcome.
They grunt, literally, if they acknowledge my thank you at all. I've checked all my dictionaries and neither of them define 'grunt' as 'you're welcome'. Is it that they feel the world owes them something? Is it because they lived through the 'walked to school in two feet of snow barefoot' times that negates the need for civility?
Proper manners is more than the pleases and thank yous, but this is perhaps the most simplistic, the easiest to enact, the mere gesture of courteous acknowledgement that anyone can do. It requires so little training, it's so few words, but its impact can be so great.
I remember when I was a child, you weren't even given time to fill your lungs with air to say 'thank you' before your parents were prodding you..."What do you say? What do you say?" They were so afraid you'd embarrass them with ill manners. These are now the same group, these parents, who need the prodding.
Once they get past the 70's they get cute and sweet and adorable. The saying is that things run in circles. Babies are born all innocent needing care and kindness and instruction. Older people come to require these same things. And like babies who coo and giggle when their needs are met, so do our geriatric pals. Heck, they even drool and wet their pants! But at least they both appreciate and show their gratitude.
But, those children of the 'depression', who are the instigators of the 'children should be seen and not heard', 'children should be sent away til they become normal...about 30 years old' era...these are the ill mannered unpleasant 'I am above you so why should I thank you' group.
An illustration comes to mind for me. The customer (about 67) who dropped her pen one day, and a girl in her teens picked it up, smiled, and handed it to her. The customer accepted it as if it were tainted and turned away. The girl looked at me, smiled, shrugged and left. The door was barely closed behind her when the customer asked if I knew her. "No", I replied, "I'm, sorry, I sure don't". The customer's reply? "Harrumph...I thought she must be of some lesser class." I don't mind telling you exactly who I felt was of greater stature at that moment.
I'd like to be able to say there is no excuse for poor manners. But, the fact remains that there are those situations where the ones teaching do not know what is appropriate behavior. If the parents do not themselves understand simple courtesies, they cannot then pass them on to their children.
It's sad, but quite often the by product of the times. You can't park your kids in front of some of the television shows today, unmonitored, and then expect them to know the difference. So, it's difficult to lash out at the by-products of this generation, when it's the instructors who have failed them. No, it shouldn't be this way, but too often it is.
However, for this 'I was born before television' group, the group who WERE taught good manners and DID pass them on to their children, there is absolutely NO excuse to decide you don't need to practice them anymore. Age does not give you a right to do this. No one earns the privilege to become ill mannered.
And, if I say thank you to someone and they don't acknowledge it, I'm just as likely to say "You're welcome" LOUDLY for them.
Mild mannered I'm not.