In any case, yesterday morning I was standing in line with two customers in front of me. It's a small shop and one can't help but overhear other customers' conversations. I listened as customer #1 said to the man behind the counter, "I want two of these, three of those, and what are those? They don't look like what I'm used to...Okay fine, I want one of those, too." No please or thank you, just "I want, I want, I want."
Next came a father and son. Surely this man would be more polite, wanting to be a good example for his son...Or not. "Give me three of these, three of those, and two of these." Again, no please or thank you, just give me, give me, give me.
This isn't the first time that I've witnessed such a lack of manners. I was brought up to say "Please, may I have..." and to answer the phone with "May I please speak with...," but it seems like more often than not, these polite words are the exception rather than the rule. Children will come to my house and say, "I want a glass of juice" or "Give me more graham crackers," and they look at me like I'm crazy when I ask them to use "please" and "thank you".
I don't mean to over-analyze, but I do believe that we have a whole generation of adults who feel entitled to many things, and I fear that they are passing on their sense of entitlement to their children. The language of "I want" and "give me" inherently indicates that the person feels that he is entitled to the object of his desire, that he feels that he should be able to take something just because he wants it. On the other hand, the language of "May I please" and "I would like...please" inherently indicates that the person understands that she is not entitled to what she asks for simply because she wants it. She realizes that she may very well not be able to have what she wants, when she wants it, and her language is respectful of the person with whom she is speaking. One is a language of taking, the other is a language of receiving. The result may be the same - in my case, all of us received and enjoyed our donuts - but the means are very different.
Am I over-analyzing the situation, or do you have similar reservations? What do you do when you are with your children and observe others who have poor manners, especially acquaintances that you see on a regular basis? Do you say something to your children, or just let it go?