“Excuse me” – There, was that so hard?

Andrea Freedman

Why is it that, in this over-crowded, bustling city that we live in, it has somehow become acceptable to graze or even bang into each other without so much as saying “excuse me”? In other words, why has it become okay to display a general lack of regard and outright rudeness to others?

Regardless of whether or not someone hurts someone else when they smash them in the arm as they walk by hurriedly, it is now the norm for people to continue on their way without so much as a backward glance at the person they assaulted.

It is not as though one cannot feel anything when coming into contact with another human being.  It boggles my mind that I am treated as though I am thin air, especially when I know very well that the guilty party did in fact feel something when he or she hit me.

I can be walking along on any given day, minding my own business, often lost in my thoughts; that is, until someone smacks into my arm and knocks me back to reality.

Sometimes I feel like saying “I know you felt that. That’s not just thick air you felt; you hit me, and I have the bruises to prove it.”

To add insult to injury, occasionally when I make a face expressing my displeasure at having been knocked halfway across the sidewalk, some perpetrators have the audacity to look at me as if I have some nerve!

With technology such as it is these days, somehow people gradually began to feel that it was acceptable to keep their heads in their smart phones rather than watch where they were going.  To make matters worse, once someone does bang into someone else, they offer no apologies.

If only the person would just say “excuse me” or “sorry”. I am not saying that I would ever be happy to be slammed into on the street, but those few simple words would go a long way. All I am asking for is an acknowledgement.

In fact, the other day when a woman bumped into me accidentally and actually said “Sorry”, after the shock wore off, I replied with a “Thank you.” I hope she did not think I was being sarcastic because I genuinely appreciated that she acknowledged her mistake. I was so grateful that I almost didn’t even mind being banged into by her.

I am not exempt from accidentally grazing another person with my arm or a bag I happen to be carrying. Funny enough, it happened recently, but the difference was that I immediately apologized – although I still received a dirty look which I thought was a little unnecessary from the woman I had bumped into, I understood her irritation nonetheless.

It is not actually okay to go around physically touching and jolting other people. Let’s put a stop to this new culture that behaves as if smashing into people on the street, malls or public transit is acceptable, and be a little more careful not to mention courteous.

If things continue as they are, one day, after one too many times of being carelessly bumped into by yet another self-absorbed, bad-mannered walker, I just may turn around and say “Could you please do that again – only this time say excuse me!”♦

Copyright © by Andrea Freedman March, 2015.


About andfreed

I am a Toronto based writer of articles, columns, essays and novels.

Posted on March 13, 2015, in Weekly Thoughts and Observations. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Definitely common courtesy is a thing of the past
    And people don’t talk to anyone
    anymore even to say excuse me


  2. I’ve noticed this also from the younger generation, a not-too-keen need to say “Thank you” and other “politisms”. But, thinking about it, their reticence may stem from a belief of “Hey, you screwed up the world, polluted it, caused such inequalities and you’re so caught up in being polite?”
    Also, a lot of “polite” people harbor biases, bigotries and prejudices. Young people are OK, they’re just not that into the polite thing as we are.

    Date: Sat, 14 Mar 2015 03:14:52 +0000
    To: rlsilverman30@hotmail.ca


    • I don’t know Ron, I find older people just as rude if not ruder than younger people. I’ve met so many who have a sense of entitlement because of their age. If I hold a door open for someone, or let someone out of a junction in front of me when driving, I am much more likely to be thanked by somebody under 50 than somebody over 50.


  3. I agree with you 100%. I am older now, and teenagers never say Excuse me when they bang into me while watching their Ipods and not paying attention to where they are going.You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, so if they haven’t learned by now how to be polite, it is probably too late.


  4. A “thank you” once in a while wouldn’t go amiss. When I am holding a door open waiting to go through and a stream of about 12 people come through and not one of them even acknowledges that I have opened it, let alone waiting to go through, really bugs me. Is it really too much effort just to express a little gratitude?


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