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Uncommon Courtesy

 “Excuse me, excuse me, oops—sorry I stepped on your toes, pardon me . . .”   

And then that is repeated when the person returns to her seat.

     When I was growing up in the 1940s and 1950s, we just KNEW that we should never get up in the middle of a service or a concert, etc. unless we were deathly sick.  However, in today’s casual society, it is commonplace for people to go in and out in the middle of a church service, lecture, drama, or concert.  With small children, there may be exceptions.  However, anyone older than 12 should be mature enough to sit through an hour to hour and a half presentation.

     It seems that even adults come in and out of events without seeming to care that they are disrupting the service.  Many see no difference between a concert and a ball game.

     Wouldn’t it be nice if we be part of a movement to bring consideration and courtesy back into our formal events and church services?

      Why do people feel they have to make these exits and entrances?

    •    I had to go to the bathroom.
Children above the age of five or six should be taught that in order to be courteous, they should “take care of business” BEFORE the event begins.  This should become part of the routine when going to church service, a concert, or a formal event.
If you have a bladder infection or some other reason why you might have to go more often, be courteous and sit toward the back so you can more easily get in and out without disturbing others.  Children will often whine, “But I don’t have to go.”  My answer is that “you WILL go NOW, because you won’t be going out during the service.”  That is not an option!

    •    I needed a drink of water.
No one is going to die of dehydration during the course of a service—even a child.   This is part of the “Taking care of business” BEFORE the event begins.
Small mints can be used if needed.—but avoid the noisy kind.

    •    I had to answer my phone.  
Phones should be turned on silent or vibrate—and better still, it should be turned off.  Unless you have someone literally at death’s door that you are waiting for a message about, any other information CAN wait until after the event.  We only prove we are slaves to our phones if we have to jump up every time it rings.  It is very rude to interrupt an event for others just to answer a non-essential personal call.

    •    I was bored, so I went out to get some air.
This displays a general lack of maturity.  This only shows that the individual is still operating at a child’s level.  Perhaps you need to take notes on the speaker or the concert to keep your mind focused.  This will break up the boredom.

    •   Somebody was picking me up at (a certain time),  so I went out to wait. If you have such an arrangement, be courteous and sit close to the back so you can slip out without distracting others.

    •    I suddenly felt sick.  The operative word here is “suddenly.”  If you felt sick before the event started, again sit toward the back so you disturb only the minimum number of people.  If you really took ill suddenly, then anyone would understand your leaving—but not if it happens time after time!

     We could make a laundry list of reasons why people feel justified to leave and return during a service or event.  Other than a DIRE emergency, plan ahead to take care of all the things that might be an issue.

    •    Go to the bathroom and get a drink of water BEFORE you go into the auditorium.
    •    Turn off your phone, or at least put it on vibrate or mute.
    •    Work on ways to keep yourself (and any children with you) focused on the program.  
    •    Make arrangements for after-service plans so that others will be aware that you will not be available until a certain time.

     If you suspect that something might occur which would necessitate leaving (and possibly returning), please be courteous to others by sitting near the back of the room and near the aisle so you won’t disrupt the experience for others.

     The Bible tells us not to be conformed to this world.  Don’t let the world be your pattern for behavior when you are in a service or other formal event.

Instead, remember the Golden Rule:  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Copyright © 2008-2015 Shirley Shedd

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