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Asking nicely
Sudie Crouch

Remember the movie A Few Good Men?

It was one of my favorite ‘90’s movies, namely because it was quite quotable.

“You can’t handle the truth” was uttered just about every time I was asked a question that didn’t warrant a response.

But now, over 20 years later, there’s another Jack Nicholson line starting to reverberate in my mind: You’re going to have to ask me nicely.

You may not even remember it. Tom Cruise’s character was leaving the meeting with Jack Nicholson at Gitmo and said he wanted copies of Santiago’s transfer orders.

Nicholson said sure, but – he was going to have to ask him nicely.

Not come down to Gitmo and flash his badge and act like he was entitled to them; Cruise’s character needed to show some respect and courtesy.

A bit of politeness and manners, even if he was requesting them for a legal matter.

Was that too much to ask?

Tom Cruise may have thought so but guess what? He obliged.

I doubt A Few Good Men was meant to be a lesson in manners, but I wish Jack Nicholson would give his little speech to a few people.

Namely – or rather, unnamely, to protect the offenders – a few people who do not have a shred of manners.

People, it seems, have forgotten how to ask nicely.

It used to be that when people needed a favor, they knew how to make their request with polite verbiage and genteel petitions.

Somehow, that act of decorum has been lost.

Now, people request favors through heated demands or acting as if they are the one bestowing the favor by asking for something.

I don’t get it.

I never liked the ‘get more flies with honey’ saying but I do understand you can get a little more common courtesy by being polite.

Whenever I call any customer service number, I always start out being nice. Especially if I am going to ask them to waive something, like a shipping charge.

If I am nice, they tend to want to help me. In fact, there’s been times the charge was something I had overlooked but was waived, simply because I have been cordial and polite.

After dealing with the public most of my adult life, I am keenly aware not everyone had been raised to be polite, but the problem has gotten even more out of hand.

I hate to say it, not because it is cliché, but because it makes me sound old, but the younger generation has really escaped any lessons on how to be polite.

Instead, there is a demanding attitude wrapped in a sense of entitlement.

“I need you to do this and I need it now,” is often the method of request.

No please. Definitely no thank you.

Just a “you need to do this for me now.”

No question of it was do-able, or an inconvenience.

Usually, people didn’t care if they were interrupting something you were already doing.

They wanted something and they were the only one in the universe that mattered.

Guess what? I am not very inclined to do things that are presented in that manner.

When someone is rude and demanding, I am usually not going to prioritize their request.

If they are nice and polite, I am usually more open to helping.

“I think manners needs to be taught in school again,” I told Mama one day. She was all for it.

“What happened?” she asked.

“Nothing unusual. Just an observation. People are so rude now and think the whole world revolves around them and what they want, when they want it. They have no respect or concern for anyone beyond the tip of their nose.”

She could understand. She has dealt with the public for most of her life as well.

Not long after that conversation, I received an email, this one full of a litany of demands and devoid of any courtesy.

I sighed.

I may do it, when I can get to it.

But, first, they’re going to have to ask me nicely.