Last week I noticed a friend tweeting his surprise at witnessing a passenger thank a bus driver when getting off at his stop, and this got me thinking. Even though politeness and common courtesy come as second nature to a number of us, they seem long forgotten virtues to the majority of Londonersâ€¦
Iâ€™ll be the first to admit that the morning commute in London isnâ€™t exactly the sort of thing to inspire politeness; after all Iâ€™d struggle to think of anyone whoâ€™d prefer to be wedged onto a cramped, overheated and frequently strange smelling tube carriage rather than tucked up in their bed first thing in the morning.
But the levels of ignorance and rudeness you see on a daily basis travelling in London go far beyond a case of early morning grumpiness. Whether it be those who insist on wearing their oversized rucksacks in what I can only imagine is an transport based interpretation of skittles, or those who barge their way onto a carriage regardless of whether anyone has got off or whether there is even any space left. Common sense seems to be something left behind as soon we take that first step underground.
Those of us the right side of 25 are often told how itâ€™s all our fault, that weâ€™re the generation that manners forgot. But as troubling as some sections of the so-called â€śASBOâ€ť generation are, the decline showing a little common courtesy canâ€™t be solved by playing the blame game; after all the worst example of such behaviour Iâ€™ve witnessed came when a middle-aged man refused point-blank to give up his seat on the Tube to a heavily pregnant woman.
Another argument is that with the rise of social media weâ€™ve lost touch when it comes to dealing with other people face to face, but while itâ€™s undeniable that social media has had a major effect on the way weÂ socialise andÂ engage with each other, we canâ€™t just blame Twitter for the lack of respect people show each other. After all, the organised clean-ups and fundraising for victims of the London riots could not have taken place without theÂ inherent altruism and goodwill that social media brings out in so many people.
The fact remains though that it shouldnâ€™t take an outbreak of feral violence and looting for a nation to show its true colours, and with the eyes (and in many cases feet) of the world descending on London for the Olympics this year we have a chance to show that weâ€™re not the rude and miserable bunch so many see us to be. So my message to Londoners is this. A little common courtesy costs nothing and after all it might just make you feel a little bit better about yourself. And you never know, someone might just return the favour.