Hi everyone! I know it’s been awhile, and I’ll just fully admit that this time around, I don’t have an excuse. I’ve just been incredibly lazy. So let’s just jump right on in, shall we? And I’ll try to be better at posting on a regular basis, I swear.
Several days ago, I was perusing a favorite thrift store of mine. It was one I haven’t gone to in awhile, mostly because it’s located in the city I used to live in, about an hour’s drive away.
I entered the doors and grabbed myself a cart (I had some serious shopping in mind!). Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a gentleman walk up to the front door and hold it open for an older lady with a walker. I’m about 95% sure it was a customer, not an employee. I promise that distinction’s kinda important to this story.
The lady fell all over herself thanking the gentleman (who, truth be told, wasn’t very stereotypically good-looking, so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just her being flirtatious). The gentleman accepted the gratitude in kind, and the lady responded, “You just don’t see good manners much anymore. I think, though, that people who shop at this kind of place were just raised differently, and that’s why I see it more often here.”
I don’t know why, but I immediately became inwardly defensive. Which is weird, because I admittedly have never lived in what you would call a big city. To add to that, a good chunk of the shopping experiences in my life have been at some sort of “discount” store, whether it be the thrift store, Target, or JCPenney. During my stint as an army brat, we’d shop at the PX, where I’d buy things that I was blissfully unaware of being off-brands, and without sales tax. (To be fair, that’s absolutely not the case today, at least at the PXs that I’ve seen recently. They had Coach purses and Juicy Couture jewelry! That would’ve totally been unheard of twenty years ago.) I’ve always considered Macy’s a high-end store, while most other shoppers consider it the place where they get their bargains. I seek out outlet versions of designer stores, and even then, it’s a tad on the expensive side for me. The only thing I’ve ever bought from Nordstrom was makeup, and that was only because I had a coupon and because they happened to be out of my particular shade of pressed powder at the Clinique counter of every other box store in the mall. I do, however, venture outside of my shopping box every now and then to take in some Tiffany & Co., Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton, and the like. Mostly it’s to people watch, and just to see what ridiculously-expensive stuff looks like, but still.
That being said, I was raised with ridiculously-good manners, if I say so myself. My mother was the Asian Emily Post growing up. To this day, I get slightly hyperventilate-y when going to fancy restaurants for fear of spilling water on the tablecloth or food in my lap (which, being the klutz that I am, happens pretty much every single time). My brothers always open doors for others and say please and thank you. I have a habit of calling people sir or ma’am, and it took me a really long time getting used to calling my parents-in-law by their first names instead of Mr. & Mrs. without thinking it was extremely rude. So I guess in my case, I am that girl who shops at “this kind of place” (meaning thrift stores) who was raised to be polite to others.
Then I think of friends who were raised in big cities, who sometimes shop at the higher-end stores. And maybe it’s because I’m choosy with the type of people I hang out with, but for the most part, they have good manners, too. They’re just a little rougher around the edges, for sure, but it’s because they’ve grown up to be mindful of their surroundings. In cities like New York & L.A., you can’t really afford to look people in the eye if you value your life. And in both cities, people are in more of a hurry than their country counterparts. The hustle and bustle of cities that don’t sleep leaves little time to sit down and truly listen to someone, and perhaps they’re even slightly more liberal-thinking, assuming that maybe some women don’t appreciate chivalry because it casts them in a helpless maiden role. Truly, I do see more independent people in big cities. Mostly because they have to be more independent. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have manners.
At the same time, when I do make the pilgrimage to the big cities and the land of more than $20 for socks, I don’t notice as many good manners. I hear a lot more yelling and statements of privilege and less tipping of hats and respecting elders. But perhaps it’s because I have my prejudices before even stepping into each of the two greatly-differing environments.
What do you guys think? Do you notice better manners in small towns? Are you a big city person who has good manners? Or do you think that both big cities and small towns have such stereotypes that you can’t help but see the stereotypes and nothing more? Also, what’s your opinion on household income and how people are raised? Do you think it’s correlated? The one glaring exception I can see to this are the people with the gigantic mansions or plantation houses in the south. They’ve got the southern charm/manners AND the money. Then again, oftentimes, the manners are contrived and fake and often hide condescension.
Let me know in the comments below! 🙂