One of the most common things you will hear in a crowded city like New York is “Excuse me.” Rather, you would hope that you would hear this, especially when people bump into you when you are getting off of a crowded subway train or a bus. Especially when you are trying to cross the street in busy Midtown Manhattan and people are just standing idly around taking photographs of the most odd things – or, at least, they are odd to you since you see them every day and therefore need no photographs.
I was on the subway the other day and when the train got to 42nd street, there was a huge crowd of people that was trying to get on at the same time. Towards the end there was a group of people that had a baby carriage with them.
No matter how hard they tried, they absolutely could not get the carriage to get on. When they finally got the carriage onboard, they realized that a few of the members of their group were not on the train and so they kept on keeping the doors from closing. There was no attempt by any member of the group to apologize to the rest of the train for the inconvenience that they were causing us.
On a contrasting note, I was just on the train last night when a couple of men got in and started lecturing a woman who had bumped into them about the necessity of saying “Excuse me” when bumping into people. They then turned this into a chorus of songs and telling us that they were not yet homeless but wanted some money, some “love” to help pay for their studio time.
I guess having people be polite to you costs money now.
So what doe it mean when somebody offers you an “Excuse me” – do we appreciate it at face value or do we really appreciate it as a waning thing to do in our sometimes cruel society?