When I was little, my parents drilled into me that if nothing else, I had to develop good manners. My mother used to say, “If you act like a lout, people will treat you like one.” She also stressed the fact that you should dress to suit the occasion.
When I started law school, it was mandatory you wear either a suit or at least a coat and tie to class. The Dean, Col. Warner, used to say we were entering a profession, and therefore we should dress and act like professionals. He and others professors had unkind things to say about sloppy dressers and persons who did not speak to other people properly. The rule was “On the downtown side of Henley Street, suit and tie.” I still do that today, 50 years later.
My father was constantly on my back about the fact that I didn’t wear a hat. He considered a hat to be the crowning touch for professional dressing. That bit of advice did not take. Except for the army, I have never worn a hat. I have two- both over 20 years old. They still fit, my head has not shrunk, or swollen.
The biggest change is the way one treats women. The other day, I opened a door for a lady. Now, I am no spring chicken, and she was much younger than me. Instead of a polite nod of the head, I got a loud voiced lecture on how rude it was to “assume that she could not open the door herself.” That told me she had never been trained in manners. I also used to be in the habit of hugging ladies- particularly if they were older than me. After a friend got demoted, and almost lost his job because he had the same habit, I quit.
Since I do not wear a hat, I cannot tip my head gear to a lady, but I can nod my head, and speak something like “How are you,” or “I haven’t seen you in a while.” I think that is safe for the time being due to the fact that I am considered “Aged.”
I hate the lack of respect people show to each other particularly to persons of the other sex. Being polite should be a habit, and followed at all times. Maybe the pendulum will swing back in the other direction, and manners, proper dress, and cleanliness will return triumphant to society. I am keeping all my suits and even a tuxedo just in case. I don’t think that the moths have out distanced me to these seldom used items. I still follow the admonition I got from my parents, two grandparents, and one wife- “Have brightly polished shoes at all times. This is what people see first, and it is what they will judge your appearance on.” If nothing else, to quote my friend, Bob Stivers, “the military taught me to shine shoes. This skill carries over to civilian life, unlike rifle and pistol practice.”
By David Creekmore