After a recent whirlwind vacation to London, returning to the U.S. was a return to the land of politeness. That is not to say that the Brits were rude per se, but rather the people in the streets of London who were clearly visitors from around the world should take a lesson in the use of expressions such as "excuse me," "please" and "thank you." Those things we, for the most part, take for granted here were sorely lacking on the streets of London.
While I thoroughly enjoyed my trip of seeing wonderful sights including Stonehenge, Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, preparations for the Olympic games and the Princess Diana Memorial Playground, to name only a few, it was a sweet voice saying "excuse me" inside the Roman Bath House in the town of Bath that stands out as a highlight. That voice came from a young woman visiting London from Kentucky. We never learned her name, but we did share a moment of rejoicing to have those words spoken in an atmosphere of "I'm in a hurry" and "Get out of my way." The young woman embraced us as we shared that we were visiting from West Virginia saying that she, too, found the rudeness of the city not to her liking. Raised as a polite southern gal, we could hear her continued "excuse me's" as she moved away from us into the crowd.
The episode made me thankful to be from a place where manners are stressed and while I sometimes feel we, here at home, move too fast, it's nothing compared to those "tourists" who have to get somewhere. And that getting somewhere comes at the expense of plain old consideration for others. Perhaps the hooplah over the Olympic games which brought so many people to the city added to the fray; however, it is still no excuse for rudeness. The difference when we landed back at JFK in New York was immediate. If someone bumped someone else in the customs line, we immediately heard an "excuse me" or "I'm sorry." Just one more thing to be proud of in our country.