What Happened to “excuse me” ?

Photo by florriebassingbourn on Flickr

When I was young, I was always told that if someone was blocking your way and you needed to move them – for instance in a busy supermarket – you simply had to say “excuse me” and they would know to move. I was told this was good manners and the polite way to handle the situation.

Just lately though, I’ve noticed three things:

1) People don’t say “excuse me” any more… they just stand as close to you as possible until you move, burning a hole into your back because you’re in the way and aren’t moving, even if you aren’t aware of their presence.

2) If you say “excuse me” to people that are in your way, you get a shocked look and a rapid apology, as if they were preventing you from getting to something urgent and that they couldn’t possibly have any right to be standing where they are.

3) If people need to get past, the just force their way past while muttering “sorry, sorry, sorry” with no regard for your personal space.

What’s going on? Has the British nationĀ forgottenĀ about the simple “excuse me”? Why are people so shocked to be asked to step aside in a polite manner? Have we got to the point where even communicating with our fellow man kind can only be met with repulsion and shock?

I have no answers… all I know is that I will continue to use my manners as my mother raised me to and I will continue to “excuse myself” whenever I need to.


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by Andy



About Andy

Andy Warburton is a web designer and developer from the UK currently living in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. When he's not building totally awesome WordPress themes or stuffing his face with Sushi, Andy can be found hanging out with his wonderful wife and child. You should totally follow me on Twitter

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