JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater is a national folk hero thanks to his dramatic and well-publicized “Take this job and shove it!” exit via the emergency chute from his aircraft.
The full story has yet to be revealed: is he truly a heroic underdog who reached a breaking point after years of abuse from rude, nay assaultive airline passengers? Or is he a bona fide wing-nut who finally cracked on the tarmac of JFK Airport after publicly humiliating a passenger who legitimately required assistance?
The fall out of his dramatic actions, weather viewed as right, wrong, heroic or insane have sparked a number of interesting debates with a common thread: rude behavior has become routine in America.
It is clear, across the board, America needs help with its manners. Pronto. What if we all lived as if we believed like Emily Post: “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others?”
Luckily this is a topic that has been written about for centuries. Unfortunately, it is also a topic that brings about eye-rolls, yawns and disinterested shrugs as most people dismiss it with, “Who cares what fork I use?” (confusing manners with etiquette.) Both are important because both help all interact with others, especially in uncomfortable and awkward situations.
Perhaps now is the time to re-introduce the idea of good manners and etiquette to help navigate through our busy and stressful days. Here are a few suggestions:
Children: It is never to young to start learning manners.
Manners by Aliki
Adorable characters in simple scenarios. It’s a fun read for both parents and adults and it has a delightful ability to spark “What if…” conversations about manners.
Oops! Exuse Me Please! And Other Mannerly Tales by Bob McGrath
This is both a great read-aloud and independent reader children’s book. The focus is on good manners instead of harping on what shouldn’t be done.
How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? by Jane Yolen
This book is funny, with hilariously illustrated examples of “What not to do at the table.”
Let’s move on to teens. Unfortunately this group is often overlooked in expectation of good manners. Is it due to a cultural belief that all teens must be rude? What a shame!
Teen Manners: From Malls to Meals to Messaging and Beyond by Cindy Post Senning and Peggy Post
You have to love those Post women! The daughter and daughter-in-law of Emily Post have continued her quest to help us all navigate this life in a sophisticated and mannerly fashion. This is a terrific guide for teenagers on manners and why they matter.
Dude, That’s Rude! (Get some manners) by Pamela Espeland and Elizabeth Verdick
A great book for pre-teens. Very funny age appropriate. Comedy is a better teacher than edicts and ridicule.
Last but not least: Adults. We are never too old to be polite. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all were able to follow guidelines to help prevent the some of the misery that drove Mr. Slater down that literal and figurative emergency escape?
Emily Post’s Etiquette, 17th Edition by Emily Post
First written in 1927, it’s been revamped and updated a by her daughter-in-law Peggy Post so don’t worry, it’s current and it matters. Yes it’s a big book so displayit on your coffee table with other art books!
The Little Pink Book of Etiquette by Ruth Cullen
This is a portable little book, just the size of an address book (remember those?) that is full of helpful bits of information on entertaining, electronics, dating, conversation, job interviews, travel and table manners. If you have to get one small book on etiquette to refer to discreetly and often, this is the one.
Better Than Beauty: A Guide to Charm by Helen Valentine and Alice Thompson
This fabulous book was written in 1938. It has been resurrected by Chronicle Books and how fortunate we are that it’s available! Siimple and delightful, insightful and funny. Good manners work best when one is charming the socks off those around him or her! It’s really quite simple and if we all behaved as if we respected and enjoyed one and other, what a world it would be.