By Dana Cole

Common courtesy.

Do we as a society even know what this is anymore?

My experiences tell me no; this is a dead language.

I work with the public four wonderful and fulfilling nights a week at a local bar and grill. Over the last five years working there, I have found that people simply are not polite. When I say “not polite,” I mean downright rude.

I see entire families out to dinner that don’t even speak to one another. They use “family time” to troll Facebook. I witness small children being ignored by their parents who are too busy texting to pay attention to their child who is throwing French fries on the floor or, god forbid, turning blue due to lack of air because they are choking.

It is not uncommon for me to ask a patron, “How are you tonight?” and to get the response, “Gimme one of them big Bud Lights.”

“Well that’s great! I’m wonderful, thanks for asking!” is how I want to reply, but I just bite my tongue (which has permanent teeth marks on it by now) and say,  “Sure, is there anything else I can get you?”

But I’m not even sure why I bother. This is usually a question that falls upon deaf ears. When I say deaf ears, I mean ears that are too engaged in a cell phone conversation or an iPod on shuffle to realize that I, their server, even exist.

I mean, are you really ignoring me and shooing me away like an annoying fly because you are on the phone? Did you not come in to an establishment with the intention of being served? Yet you act like I am an inconvenience to you and your social life.

Another of my favorite scenarios is the “You’re my server, so I feel it’s appropriate not to say please or thank you and to demand the things that I want/need rather than ask.”

When I say “things I want/need,” I mean extra, extra ranch and another one of “them big Bud Lights.”

Rather than say, “can I” or “may I please have,” the most common thing people say is, “get me” or “bring me.”

No please. No thank you. No warm friendly smile, just rude grunts, gestures and snide glares.

Has our society regressed back to the days of the cave man where everything is about me, me, me and survival of the fittest?

As a student in the field of communication, I couldn’t help but wonder why this phenomenon is occurring.

Has the technology we have developed degraded our ability to communicate interpersonally? Or better yet, has technology eradicated the need for interpersonal communication?

Sometimes I feel like writing my cell number down and leaving it on the table for patrons to use if needed.

“Here is my number, shoot me a text if you need anything and I’ll just leave you alone to enjoy your dinner…”

Now, not everyone I encounter while working in the service industry is rude and crude. There are the occasional delightfully nice people who grace me with their presence. These people smile, laugh and engage in casual conversation which makes my job not so morbidly depressing and degrading. Were it not for them, I would probably lose it about once a week.

Working with any public, not just in the service industry, one is bound to encounter the usual suspects and come across those people who just aren’t pleasant.

I understand this.

I also understand that I choose to do this work, so presumably, I shouldn’t complain, or just find a new job. But mind you, I am a college student. Food service is not my career choice. It is merely a way to pay the bills while in school. Nonetheless, I am a human and I deserve mutual respect from fellow humans, even if I am a lowly server.

So the next time you go out to eat at a sit-down restaurant, get off the phone, tell your Facebook friends bye for now and talk to a human face to face for crying out loud! Oh, and don’t forget to be nice.