Henry and Kate have been friends since primary school. They now go to different secondary schools, but they try to meet up in their favourite coffee shop at least twice a week after school to catch up with each other’s news. Henry is already there when Kate arrives today. He notices immediately that she doesn’t look very happy.
Henry: Hello. You don’t look very pleased. Has something happened? What’s the matter?
Kate: You’re right. I’m not very pleased. But it’s partly a overreaction, really. I shouldn’t have let myself get upset, but I have. I’ll calm down in a minute.
Henry: Go on. Spill the beans. What’s happened? Has something gone wrong at school?
Kate: No. Nothing like that. I got out of school early and decided to go buy a couple of new t-shirts on my way here to see you.
Henry: And? They didn’t have anything you liked!
Kate: No. You’ll think I’m crazy getting upset, but a woman in the shop was so rude to me. I’d got my tee shirts, was coming out onto the street, had just opened the door to walk through when this woman barged past me saying 'Excuse me! Have you no manners? Can’t you see I’m loaded with shopping? Young people should always stand aside to let their elders pass first. You need to learn some good manners, young lady.'
Kate: I just stood there stunned. I couldn’t believe what she’d just said to me or the nasty look she gave me. I hadn’t even seen the woman behind me. And she was only in her twenties. How dare she criticise my manners? If I’d seen her loaded with bags I would have stepped aside and held the door open for her. How dare she?
Henry: Don’t get so upset. Some adults like to criticise us for lack of manners.
Kate: But that’s not fair! People like you and me and all our friends are as well mannered as any adult. Good manners are important to me. My parents have brought me up to be well mannered.
Henry: I know. If you want to see really bad manners, you want to meet my little nephew. He’s nine and my sister is really struggling to teach him manners. She can’t even get him to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ She has to remind him all the time. And his table manners! Please! He won’t use his chopsticks or knife and fork correctly. He chews with his mouth open.
Kate: That’s horrible! I hate it when people use a tooth pick and don’t cover their mouth. And people who cough in public without covering their mouth…that’s disgusting.
Henry: I think kids should be taught good manners and respect. I hate it on the MTR when there’s a teen occupying a seat when an elderly person is standing.
Kate: I would always hold a door open for someone older than me, and I always knock on a door before I go in a room if there’s someone in there.
Henry: I would always let a girl or woman go through a door before me.
Kate: You’re a gentleman!
Henry: Thank you. I would hate it if someone thought I didn’t have good manners.
Kate: I'm so glad you understand where I'm coming from.
Henry: Don’t worry any more about that woman in the shop. She was obviously stressed and taking it out on you. But I agree with you that it’s bad when a snotty adult thinks teens are all bad mannered. I know. I’ll be a gentleman and buy the lady a drink. Coffee or tea, madam? What would you like?