Saturday June 30, 2012

I woke up restless at the crack of dawn thinking about the 68-year-old woman bus monitor in New York who was taunted and verbally abused by middle school children. What has happened to common decency?

As a 33-year-old mother raising two young children, a society where technology is ruining the fundamentals of common hu man decency is troubling to me. Manners are out the window when people are too busy to look up from their iPhones to have simple eye contact during a conversation, or the value of a family dinner and a "how was you day?" is replaced by an iPad movie at the restaurant.

The other day I took my four-year-old daughter to the mall to pick out a birthday gift for a friend. Not one single person working in the middle aisle stores took the time to look up from the cell phones, where they were probably checking the status of their 1,000 friends on Facebook. Not one, "good morning, can I help you?" even as we stopped to look at their merchandise.

I felt a gentle tug on my arm. I looked down at my daughter and she said "Mommy can I please have a smoothie?" My four-year-old had more manners than the dozens of mall workers I walked past. I quickly said with a smile "Of course, and thank you for asking so nicely." We walked up to the counter and waited patiently for someone to come from the back.

A gentleman in his 20s turns the corner. He sees us but doesn’t say anything and refuses to take the ear bud headphones out of his ears. I stand there waiting for a greeting. Finally, after an awkward 20 seconds of him stuffing his jaw with bubble gum, he says, "What do you want?" I took my daughter’s hand and headed for the exit, the worker mumbling expletives as we walked away. My disappointed daughter didn’t understand, but knowing my boyfriend and I have strong beliefs about manners raising our children, I explained what had just happened. She understood and graciously accepted we would go somewhere else.

I was raised by loving, caring and respectable parents and grandparents who taught me the value of manners, respect and to treat others the way you want to be treated. I want to believe that these fundamentals can be saved. I’ve been a waitress for 15 years and currently work at Baba Louie’s in Pittsfield. I am humbled to work for people like Paul and Eileen Masiero. Their values of family and honest graciousness are put into play at their restaurants. It’s a place where every employee greets you as you enter and wishes you well when you leave, and we really mean it.

I’m not trying to save the world from disappearing values, but I am trying to save my children from being swept away in a world of technology where respectful human interaction and most importantly, compassion are being put on the back burner.

SARAH LADD

Dalton