Bad manners.

My mother instilled manners in me and my sister. I cannot ever remember my father teaching us this.

My father lacked in good manners. He was not a decent man. On appearance, he seemed polite. His friends respected him as did the community especially the members of his church. He appeared to have impeccable manners.

At home he was entirely different. If he wanted me to do something I was never asked only told. Not once was the word “please” used by him when talking to me. He felt belittled and would call it “begging”. He wanted total superiority over me. If I was in his way, he only had to say one word,

“Move”.

I sometimes responded to it, sarcastically perhaps, and dropped a ‘please’ in there. That infuriated him, I was being disrespectful. I wasn’t allowed to expect politeness from him, I did not deserve it. He rarely said “thank you” either. Why should he? I was there to do what he said, I couldn’t expect his gratitude. Even on birthdays he resented the word leaving his mouth. Usually my gifts weren’t good enough as in later arguments he would throw my generosity back in my face. I was a lousy, heartless daughter who should have been “rewarding” him for doing “such a difficult job” in raising me (his exact words).

I could get over not hearing ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. I knew he would never give it. However, as a human being, I did expect him to say one word in particular.

Sorry

Did I ever hear it? Not once. If he accidentally bumped into me or trod on my foot in passing I was told to get out of his way. If he had upset me unnecessarily it would essentially be my own fault and I did not deserve an apology. If I had bad news there was no sympathy or if I was ill, I had brought it on myself.

I could do no right.

Surely, if not as his daughter but a living and breathing human being, I deserved more than he ever gave me?

I always make sure I’m polite to everybody, no matter how they make me feel.

Good manners sometimes means simply putting up with other people’s bad manners.
H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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