Common courtesy

As an upperclassman, you start to appreciate things that you used to ignore when you were a young, sprite first-year. Things like free time, convenient parking, groceries and quarters for laundry usually top my list. Items that once seemed so magical in recent years have lost their novelty. My weekends have become increasingly defined by mundane tasks like laundry, debating which brand of dish soap to buy, balancing my checkbook, looking for a post-Concordia job and catching up on sleep. Since when did I become a dull, boring adult?

Adulthood always seemed like such a foreign concept to me. It was like a different country with its own values, beliefs, culture and language. Nowhere was this divide more present than family get-togethers. The kids would head to one side of the house and the adults to another. In my book the two simply had nothing in common. One was a fun, bright red convertible with a high performance engine; the other was a high-mileage gray Toyota Camry.

While I don’t think that I will ever surrender all fun and excitement, I’ve noticed myself picking up on more things. One of which is common courtesy. As a child, I remember learning basic manners. In the words of “Supernanny” Jo Frost, I was taught “no punching, kicking, spitting, body slamming, fighting, arguing, cursing, etc.” They’re simple concepts that even my 5-year old self could easily grasp.

However, recently I’ve noticed that these basic principles seem to have fallen out of fashion amongst my contemporaries and younger peers. This is a trend that I’ve discussed with friends in passing, and they too share my concern. Although I don’t want to suggest that civilized society is about to cave in upon itself, the current trend is intriguing.

Take the concept of the library. Good old Carl. We’ve been good friends since my freshman year. I usually take time to pay him a visit almost daily—finding refuge in the countless shelves and stacks and escaping the world as I draft a paper, study for an exam or draft a column. With so much noise in our world today from our phones and the stresses of juggling time commitments and coursework, I value the silence a trip to the library can offer.

Yet unfortunately, the sanctuary of this hallowed institution appears to have been lost.

During my first two years on campus, you never talked in the library. Ever.  Once you passed through the glass wall into the reference section you zipped it. Just a loud cough or sneeze there would send glares your way. If your phone went off it was the end of the world. Someone would come over and verbally accost you. Seriously, it happened. The expectation was that if you needed to work on a group project, practice a speech, or catch up on a phone conversation, you would use other areas like Serendipity or the Fishbowl. Sometime last year, this principle was lost.

I understand that we’re all busy. Our time is truly precious. But do you really want to have a discussion with your roommate about which pair of leggings best minimizes your cellulite in the library? Listening to music can also be a great way to help you flesh out your ideas in a first draft for a paper, but I don’t want to listen to your favorite FloRida songs over and over again. I respect your choice to express yourself with your loud Justin Bieber ringtone, I just ask that you respect my expectation of silence in the 3rd floor stacks. Think about others before you answer that call, talk loudly to your neighbor or gossip about your roommate.

There’s a running theme here. Consider others before you act. By no means is this a massive problem. After all, we’re at a nice, Midwestern college in a community that prides itself on its friendliness—going so far as to proclaim we’re “always warm”. I just ask you to consider others when you’re going about your day before blasting your stereo or cutting in the salad bar line. Think. Thanks.


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