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What's up with societal rudeness these days?
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Recently I was enjoying a sandwich in the Subway shop in Hughson when a cell phone of a customer rang - very loudly. He had it set to a ring tone like one of those obnoxious 1950s phone bells. I just about jumped out of my skin. It didn't seem to bother him that it was waking the dead in Lakewood cemetery miles away nor interrupting the lunch of customers, because he let it ring and ring and ring before answering.

In a few minutes the scene repeats itself. Super loud ringing, super tardy reply to answer and super irritated Jeff.

Poor cell phone etiquette - whether it's answering during movies or letting phones ring in public meetings or church gatherings - is symptomatic of an increasingly rude society.

At the risk of sounding like a grump, I ask: What's the matter with people these days? Why are people getting so inconsiderate and downright rude?

My son and I were lunching at Panda Express in Ceres two weeks ago where a 20-something man was smoking three feet from the door. Not far enough for politeness nor the law, I'd say.

Last week, I got a firsthand taste of an inconsiderate driver. I was driving westbound on Whitmore Avenue from Mitchell Road. As I was changing from the #1 to #2 lane, a female driving a black vehicle whips out from my left, swinging in front of me not into the lane closest to her - the lane I was in - but into the lane where I'm headed. I brakes to avoid hitting her as she slips in front of me, only to see her slow down to make a sudden right turn onto Charlotte Avenue. I'm amazed at her rude cut-off and then notice there's not a sole behind me for blocks. A few-seconds wait would have been the courteous and safe thing to do.

I'm afraid this is more the rule than the exception. Rudeness seems to pervade culture here in the Central Valley. I chock it up to poor upbringing and just plain selfishness. They have this attitude that they are more important than everyone else.

I was taught differently. I like the way it feels to let somebody go ahead of me in line or to hold a door open for the person behind me.

Has this happened to you? You're the only one on the road but a group of kids will step into your path at midblock and take their time sauntering across like royalty, as if to safe, "Hit me, I dare you." No doubt these are the same kids who, when they get own cars, announce to the world that they're coming with loud thumping stereos, as if we are impressed that they can destroy their eardrums before they turn 25. And nine times out of 10, the music contains lyrics to cringe by.

Societal rudeness also comes in the form of individuals who show us their lack of vocabulary skills by dropping the F-bomb as a substitute for every other word they might use. In the 1970s we used to think people who did this were of extremely low class - and they were. They still are. It's never impressed me that somebody can show such morally depravity while at the same time demonstrating their sheer lack of societal intelligence. Thank Hollywood for modeling this behavior for us.

You can thank the public school system for also indoctrinating the younger generation - mostly young ladies - to wearing pajama bottoms in public. Some time in the 1980s or 1990s teachers thought it was cute for boys and girls to come to school dressed in PJs for slumber party like events. Now I'm supposed to think it's acceptable for a 27-year mom go down to the AM/PM for cigarettes with pink hearted flannel PJ bottoms? I realize this may be deemed more of an issue of lack of class than rudeness but may I remind you that one of the definitions of "rude" includes "lacking refinement or delicacy." Is it just me or does anyone else find this attire screams of the lower echelon?

It doesn't have to be PJs to be classified as classless. I can't forget the man who came into the Courier office one day with a highly offensive T shirt that involved a fisherman and a certain body part. The vulgar art was plainly seen by a female staff member - she was a pastor's wife - as he placed an ad. I was much younger and less intimidated but if that were to happen today, I'd give him my opinion about wearing such offensive art in my place of business.

We might blame political correctness for this rudeness. We have been sold a bill of goods that we should be tolerant of anything and everything and in doing so, anything goes. We've let rudeness become an acceptable standard and isn't that sad?

How do you feel? Let Jeff know at