I know everyone says we have a financial crisis, but I'm worried about an even bigger one: a common courtesy crisis.
I mean, is it me, or have people just forgotten simple niceties?
In the span of little more than two hours today, I witnessed a guy who refused to hold open a door for a young woman carrying a ton of packages. Another who literally snapped his fingers at an underling while he was on the phone to clear some stuff off his desk.
Then a dude on a cell phone in an elevator literally chewing out a worker and doing so loudly -- very loudly. And making all in that elevator -- including moi -- very uncomfortable. Very tacky, very rude, very -- I'm afraid -- common.
Which is why I feel for Robert Gibbs. The White House press secretary has the thankless duty of addressing not-so-nice reporters every day. He can take their ringing zingers. All he asks is that they turn their ringers off -- their phone ringers.
Most do. Many don't. Some, like CBS’s Bill Plante, are even offended. So they take the ringing call and leave the freaking room. And everyone jumps ugly on Gibbs for quite properly freaking out.
They're wrong. He's right. Here's why: He's conducting a briefing, not a cattle call — though it's hard to tell the difference sometimes.
What's wrong with some basic ground rules, like putting phones on vibrate? We expect as much in a movie house, certainly we can do as much at the White House?
This isn't a right or left issue. It's a common sense issue. Just like wiping your feet when you enter someone's home, or taking off a baseball cap when sitting at their table, or looking in their eyes when shaking their hand, or, at the risk of sounding old-fashioned, allowing a woman to enter an elevator first.
It's called acting with class. Here’s what it’s not: acting like an ass.
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