Saturday, May 19, 2007

Heeeey! Whatever happened to GMRC*?

*GMRC - Good Manners & Right Conduct.

The idea for this blogpost comes from my whole day of malling today. These I witnessed or happened to me on that day:
  • I got jostled by old people, people my age, younger people, kids. Not one excuse me did I hear from them.
  • I had to say excuse me to people in pairs or groups who were hogging the stairs, hallways.
  • Grown-ups asking a small boy: What's Daddy's problem?, the boy answering by tapping his right index finger on his left palm (for those not in the know, this gesture means sex) which elicited laughter from the adults and comments of how cute!.
  • College students playing the Salute game (they have to salute when they see the target; last one to do so gets "punished") using gays as targets, laughing their heads off and making heads turn to their direction.
  • A young lady smartly dressed in long sleeved shirt, jeans and high heels ignoring the cue of people in the fastfood counter, bossily pointing to the crew the meal combo she wants.
  • A group of high schoolers in a theater showing Spiderman 3 more interested in talking about who's going out with whom than in the action on screen, who upon being shushed, increased the decibel of their voices.
  • Security guards, fastfood crew, salesladies who were courteous to customers from the moment they step into their shops up to the time they leave.
It used to be that GMRC was a subject taught in elementary and high school in the Philippines way before values education became the vogue. It used to be that even before GMRC, Filipinos were taught by their parents the proper etiquette in dealing with the elderly, people in authority, playmates, strangers, visitors, et. al. I believe that good manners and values are better caught than taught. Contrary to popular belief, etiquette is not only about which spoon to use with what dish. What is key in good manners or etiquette is that it is a norm of behavior, specially in public, which shows that one practising it has respect and consideration for others.

At my age, I have learned that respect doesn't always beget respect. I've prided myself for being respectful to others regardless of their gender, age, status in life. But imagine this: After hailing a tricycle, I tell the driver my destination. He seems distracted and looks away until I tell him I'm paying P25. He looks interestedly back at me and asks P25? By then I am already hailing another tricycle.

December 2005. My purchases reached the amount which made me eligible to join the computer game and raffle. At the table provided for filling up the raffle coupons, I sat beside an old woman who brought her own pen. Looking around and finding all the other pens being used, I asked her if I could borrow her pen to fill up my one coupon (she was about to finish with her 10 or so coupons). She flatly said NO and left in a huff. My face turned crimson. After dropping the raffle stub in the box, I cued at the computer game. The old woman was in the other line ahead of me. The Lady Santa pointed the two of us to adjoining computers where we had to key in 3-digit numbers. The alarm sounded after I entered my numbers - I won a four-layer plastic clothes cabinet, one of the major prizes. She looked at me with envy as her monitor showed she won a number of plastic cups, pencils, cheap kid's socks. I told her: Karma, manang.

It gives me great pleasure to meet my students in college who are now gainfully employed or have businesses of their own. A few months earlier, a former student processed the savings account I opened with the bank where she worked. Several weeks later, I saw her while on my way out of the mall. So I flashed her a smile which promptly died on my lips when she pointedly ignored me and changed direction so she wouldn't have to rub elbows with me. She stepped on the metal grill of the mall's drainage system (which looked unevenly put over the canal). It gave way and one of her legs fell into the canal while she toppled over. She was sprawled on the pavement with the bottom of her panties showing when her miniskirt rode up her waist. The tricycle drivers rushed to her aid. I went on my way, the smile returning on my lips.

Assignment: In the course of one day, tally the number of people who has thanked you for what you did to and for them. How many thanked you in a business transaction? Compare it to the ones who thanked you in non-business situations.

Food for thought: Has GMRC/etiquette gone the commercial route? Are people courteous and accommodating to others only because it's part of their jobs or because there's money at stake?
As to rude, unruly, inconsiderate behavior, are we witnessing an overdose of self-ishness?
Have we become so engrossed with the hustle and bustle of everyday life that we have forgotten our manners?


rolly said...

I don't expect anymore! It is apparent that what and how we were taught before is very different from what we are teaching our young today. There is too much distrust with people these days as a result of everyday encounters that we have taught our children not to talk to strangers, for example.

My only consolation is if somebody do me wrong, I know karma will work. You're lucky. You have seen how karma works instantly.

gilbert yap tan said...

Rolly, you're right. In a society that makes it difficult for people to do good and what is right, the unscrupulous will reign supreme. I just hate the idea of a crassly commercialized world where everything is motivated by cash; that salespeople are courteous to me only because of the business I bring to them. That motivation somehow makes shopping less enjoyable for me. It seems a battle between "I want to do this to/for you because it's the right thing to do" vs. "If I do this to/for you, what's in it for me?"