Is courtesy dead?

A rant.

Really! Courtesy is an age old grace that matures as we grow older.  Some people criticize without thinking that they are hurting the person they are talking to. Why do they feel that they have the upper hand in words? It all boils down to the fact that these people do not have the courtesy to be gracious. Family members are notorious for that in my opinion.

A young child of twelve or thirteen takes a written essay or a sketch, and shows to her/his parent. Instead of appreciating the child’s work and the time he has spent on doing the project, the parent says, “You should have written it in a different way and make it sound better.” Or, “This is a hopeless piece of NOTHING. Don’t waste my time.” (My mother had said that to me when I was about ten, and had written a story. I don’t know why I cannot forget that.) The child of course is heart-broken, and walks away. This used to be the norm in my childhood. I think the parents are more sensitive to the child’s needs and potentials these days, more courteous and more tolerant.

Not only is this kind of criticism harmful, it is also damaging to a child’s psyche.

When I was in my fourth year of medicine, the chief of Ob-Gyn was a lady. She sent for me one day and when I went into her office, she said, “I hear your uncle is a commissioner of some big department; (I forget what), my niece has applied for a job in his office. Can you please talk to him about her?” I told her that he used to be our neighbor in Tiruchirappalli, and his children spent a lot of time in our home. We called the folks ‘uncle and aunty’ out of respect and that he was not really related to me. She didn’t take the hint, and again asked if I could say a word about the niece to him.

It so happened that I was going to their home for lunch that weekend. So I told him that Mrs. K at CMC, has a niece who is seeking employment at his office. Uncle was so kind and said, Zakiah Ma, I will definitely keep that in mind because it is coming from you, and if she has good credentials, it shouldn’t be too hard.

A few days later I saw Mrs. K at the hospital. She called me to her and said, “My niece got the job at your uncle’s office.  Well, I am not sure if she got the job because of your recommendation, or she just deserved to be there!” Damn! Like an arrow straight at my ego! I felt betrayed. She needn’t have said anything at all. It was like a hidden barb at me. I just smiled at her and didn’t say a word, shrugged my shoulders and walked away.

I have always tried to bend over backwards to help people and make them feel good. Always! I love to give gifts. Simple nothings of life. Some food, a dessert, some toiletries, and I just feel so good in my heart to do that. Ninety percent of the friends appreciate what I give. Then there are a few who always have to say something negative, say, about a dessert for example. “Oh the dessert was okay, there was too much icing on it, or, the one you made the last time was much better!” What do I do then, take the dessert back and say, “Well okay then! Too bad. I will make for you some other dessert if and when you develop the courtesy of grace and appreciation!?”

Why do people forget that everything is not about them, and that there are people who go to a lot of trouble to get something, just so they would like it? A simple word of thanks or a touch on the shoulder, would suffice, me thinks.

Had a friend from Kerala. She liked the biryani I made, and wanted to learn the preparation. That and the mysore pak that I make. She would come home and would want me to show her the way to make these two dishes. I was young, and I was a fool! I would not only show her how to make the dishes in my home, but would also go to her home and make them for her. Grrr! She was a good cook, and used to make one dish of fried meat. It was a typical Kerala dish. It would be almost dry and have pieces of coconut (copra) in the dish. The Dude loved that meat, and told me to get the recipe and make it for him. So I asked her for the recipe and asked her to show me the way to prepare it. You should have heard all the excuses, and the fake laugh that went with it.

Oh I don’t have the recipe.

My mother makes the masala and sends it.

It is nothing big. You just have to boil the meat and add the regular masala.

And finally, I cannot give the recipe Zakiah, it is a family thing!!!

Words like arrows dipped in poison, right into my heart!

Like I said, a couple of decades ago, I was a fool. Not that I am any better now! I still run to do things for others, only to have some snide discourteous words thrown at me.
Why can’t people be more gracious?

Sorry about this rant. Just felt like upchucking it. 🙂

Happy Holidays.

About Zakiah

I write poetry and some fiction, have a book that was published in 2012. . . Stray Thoughts/Winged Words. I have four grandchildren, ages 16 and half to almost 16 months. I love the ocean, and grew up along the Indian Ocean in South India. I am a retired physician. Don't know much else to say. Thanks for reading. That has been my profile for so many years. My daughter Saadia a great poet and story teller, has two sons; the oldest grandson is now 21 years old, doing architectural engineering at Missouri S&T in Rolla MO. His younger brother is almost 16 and taking driving lessons seriously and is in High School. The other two grandsons, children of my son Sayeed, are 9 and 5. I have recently published another book titled Gulistan, A home of Flowers. It has stories and memories of my childhood and of a distant land which I still consider as my HOME., even though I have lived here in the US for more than fifty years. Hope to see you on my blog.
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17 Responses to Is courtesy dead?

  1. Good grief. You know a lot of rude people. Thank you for being so kind despite it. (That woman’s niece definitely got the job because of you. She didn’t want to feel beholden to you despite putting herself in that position.)
    I’m sure ALL of your desserts are delicious.

    • Zakiah says:

      Carrie, I don’t usually vent out like this, but something like this happened on Friday, and it got my goose cooked! I know she got that job because of my recommendation. The “uncle” was such an important officer and he was so good to me by saying that because I was recommending her, he would keep that in mind.
      Such a double edged sword we have to deal with sometimes. I am okay now! ❤ ❤ ❤

  2. murisopsis says:

    I don’t think you foolish at all! You have such a big heart and I am so sorry that it has been disappointed by thoughtless and uncaring people! I found my rose essence and I’m planning on trying again to make the dessert! It will probably never be as good as yours! Thanks you for giving me the encouragement to try again. Happy Holidays to you and yours!!

    • Zakiah says:

      aaaahh! Thank you Val. I have made some foolish mistakes many many times. You would think I would learn from my mistakes. But as of now, in real time, I think I am a tiny bit wiser and not as trusting and giving as I used to be.
      I am happy to hear that you are going to try that dessert again. You have to refresh my memory as to which one it was. Call if you need help.
      Love and hugs and the best of Season’s Greetings to you and your family.

  3. onedanyankee says:

    I’m afraid to say, I’ve been on both ends of the barbs. I’ll never forget baking my new favorite dessert for the potluck at church, when I was a teenager, and sitting at the dinner table with everyone, I overheard someone ask who might have been dumb enough to think anyone would want to eat something like that. I also remember, when my eldest daughter brought me her first story she had written, responding that all first stories are crap, but you have to write crap before you can write anything good. Of course, all she heard was, “It’s crap!”, and all I needed to say was that I was glad she was attempting to write and it was a good first effort. I don’t think I realized (and sometimes still don’t remember) how much a few heartless words can hurt and how they can stick with you.

    • Zakiah says:

      Oh, such heart-breaking words to hear, both by you and your daughter. The heart just cringes within the chest when we hear words that wound us. Mother and I were not the friends i pretend in my stories. I think i wanted to feel her love a lot, which was never directed to me. And so, little sentences, a few taunts and some lashing words hang on for days, and weeks and years and decades. Thank you for sharing this with us here Dan.

  4. I think this type of behavior is more common now and that’s sad.

    • Zakiah says:

      And I don’t know why. Why is it becoming common. It should be the other way around. Is it a societal fault? This particular friend i talked about in the third or fourth paragraph, tested my self control to the t.
      How are you doing darling. Hope you are staying warm. Love and hugs to you.

    • Zakiah says:

      Matt, how sweet you are to order the book. Thank you so much…. more because your words mean so much to me.

      • I picked a random story to read first and I was laughing so hard. It was the story of the husband and wife who saw you and the wife said “His Peter won’t get up.” hahahahaha…..

    • Zakiah says:

      I cannot tell you how embarrassing that was for me, but the worse part was the giggles in my belly that wanted to break all barriers and bwahahah right on their faces. I got out of the room and just lost it.

  5. cjjustice1 says:

    I hate that you have had so many people make such rude, impolite, unthoughtful statements to you (and actions, as well)! You are such the opposite – kind, polite, & thoughtful. I have experienced that myself. I remember as a young woman being told by someone who was like an “auntie” to me say – “It’s a shame about your “buck-teeth” — you’d be such a pretty girl otherwise. I know the feeling – like a barb in the heart. (Like just don’t say anything if I am not pretty enough to suit you!) I was always self-conscious about that anyway — and was glad when my husband was able to provide financially for me to get that problem taken care of by my dentist.
    I hope that you are finding people nicer these days! With my love and hugs – Carolyn

  6. slmret says:

    Courtesy is a learned trait — one that we learn from the earliest days of childhood. In my parents’ home (and I’m sure in yours), manners were of primary importance — manners being the rules of behavior, but also the thoughtfulness of how we related to other people. The way we were treated as children is of prime importance in learning this trait — it is of supreme importance to be thoughtful about how one speaks to one’s children. I remember an incident in which we were singing around the piano after dinner — my mother told me to go away because I couldn’t carry a tune. As a result, I cannot sing to this day! Just one example of many that shaped a budding personality! I’m sorry your friends were so rude to you — it really makes one wonder about friendships.

  7. I was that child with the parents who had nothing good to say too! I am glad there are more gracious people in the world like yourself, Zakiah! 😀

  8. Having a kind and compassionate heart..doing the right thing is different from being foolish.You have such a good heart. I’m learning at an older age to let go of people who are that rude and disrespectful. My circle is getting smaller and smaller. 😉 Love and hugs sweet lady.

  9. Oh, my gosh. 😦
    Please keep being you, SweetZ, no matter how others act.
    You have a HUGE kind, generous, loving, gracious heart that is so evident in your words and actions. 🙂
    (((HUGS)))
    Your post reminds me of this…

    People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered. Forgive them anyway.

    If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

    If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies. Succeed anyway.

    If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you. Be honest and frank anyway.

    What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight. Build anyway.

    If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

    The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow. Do good anyway.

    Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough.
    Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

    You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God.
    It was never between you and them anyway.

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