Wednesday, July 26, 2006

What's rude and what's not?

Not quite spot on what's bugging me... but enough to kick off with...

July 26, 2006
Customers have a part to play in courtesy stakes

IN THE recent discussion on courtesy in Singapore, there were some complaints about rude hawkers. What I am most disturbed about is the attitude of customers towards the people serving them.
Many of us tend to be impatient when things are slow, and we make unreasonable demands and pass harsh criticism. Then we rush off with our goods without saying a word of thanks.

I am studying in Britain and the situation here is very different. The British have a tradition of being polite but what struck me most is the protection offered to shop staff. Notices are put up in many shops and pubs around Britain warning that if any customer is rude, abusive or unreasonable to a member of the staff, he would have to leave.

Campaigns campaigns campaigns... ever since I can remember, there have been campaigns.. "Keep Singapore Clean", "2 is enough" and yes, my personal favourite, the "Courtesy" campaign... and more recently the Speak Good English Movement and the Four Million Smiles thingy.

Still, today, there have been many comments about how we have fallen short in terms of courtesy.. despite our (younger) PM Lee talking about it, we continue to lapse into rudeness... Perhaps we should distil ,10-year-series style, what's rude and what's not into simple rules...

The Simple Rules of Courtesy

1) Saying "Excuse Me" does not excuse one from saying "Please";

2) It's rude to stare. So there;

3) When someone smiles at you... Smile back!.. unless you're at a bar and you don't want to encourage him/her;

4) It is NOT polite to stand close behind someone have his lunch in the hope of speeding up his meal. Similarly, don't order your food and have it delivered BEFORE you have a seat at the table;

5) If you are holding an umbrella, and it's raining, it's okay to offer to share it with the person next to you;

6) Don't pretend to fall asleep on the MRT when there is a pregnant lady / aged person / fill-in-the-blank standing in front or near you. It's so lame.. because everyone knows that you are just pretending;

7) It's is alright to hold open the lift door / any other door for other people. It's only nice;

8) Don't just brush off the blind folks selling tissue papers. Who knows? May be they DO need the money. So what if you're wrong and you're taken for a sucker? What is a buck to you?

9) Some car trying to filter into your lane? Hey, it's not going to kill you if you let him into your lane. Especially if he's been signalling for the last 5 minutes;

10) Instead of saying "Can I help you?", you could perhaps say, "Hi, my name is pc. Please feel free to look around and let me know if you need anything" with a nice genuine smile when someone steps into your shop; and finally...

11) If someone does something nice for you, it's okay to say "Thank you"...

I guess having the campaigns sometimes desensitise us to plain old common sense.


Ok guys. Let's see you come up with your own simple rules of Courtesy and share it with others. Something tells me that if we all do this conscientiously, we'll all become nicer people...


Blogger boo said...

i say "thank you" to:

1. bus drivers when they stop for me;

2. taxidrivers when i board & alight;

3. people who hold the lift/door for me;

i smile at young children, old people, women who glare & men who stare.

and if my skirt flew up when i pass a construction site showing off my undies, i'd flash my pearlies. hey, if i made the day for a few men working under the hot sun, why not :)

2:33 pm  
Blogger John Riemann Soong said...

"2) It's rude to stare. So there;"

Slightly disagree with this one.

The fear to even look at each other's eyes in public (especially on the MRT train) often is the cause of courtesy and an unbearable ride.

10:35 am  
Blogger PC said...


It's okay to look at another person in the eyes... what's not acceptable is if you hold this look for a full minute or more...

Lives have been lost for less.

12:42 pm  
Blogger trisha said...

I make it a point to thank the people who clear away the used plates on my table in the food court and hawker centre.

It always humbles me to think there are people who have to clear up a dirty table so that I have a clean table to have my meal.

2:56 pm  
Blogger John Riemann Soong said...

I think it's actually only polite to say something (small talk, if one has to) when one has made contact with someone, looking them in the eyes or otherwise.

Would make for a nicer status quo.

2:04 am  

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