By Helen Ovbiagele
If you want to know the mind of young people, listen to new generation FM stations; particularly those programmes where they invite listeners’ views on a particular subject/story.
“Hello, you guys and dolls out there! Give us your take on this interesting incident. To mark his girlfriend’s birthday, a guy invited her out for drinks after work on a week day. He took her to a posh restaurant and they ordered drinks. He then left for the washroom. As the lady waited, she found that she was very hungry.
So, she called a waiter and asked for a plate of fried rice. When her boyfriend returned to their table, the drinks waiter came and served their drinks. While they were drinking and chatting, the other waiter brought the fried rice to the lady. ‘I’m not paying for that,’ the boyfriend promptly told her.
The lady was so offended by his behaviour that she told him there and then that she would no longer accept dates from him. Dear listeners, what do you think of the lady’s reaction? Was it right? After all, they professed to love each other. And the guy? Was it right for him to react the way he did, and show himself so mean? Please ring ………………. to give your view”
Responses came in fast; with ladies leading in the attack. ‘What a horrible horrible man! The lady was right to dump him right there. I hope she never goes back to him.’ ‘Was that man alright in his head? How could he have humiliated a lady he claimed to love? How much is a plate of rice, that he had to tell her that he wasn’t going to pay for it?
He’s no gentleman at all.’ ‘I’m glad the lady dropped him like a hot potato! What a pig? If he could afford drinks for both of them, he could afford a plate of rice too. He should have seen that she must have been hungry to order for the plate of rice.’ ‘Can you imagine such an un-gentleman act?
Even a stark illiterate from the remotest village wouldn’t behave like that. The man is really disgusting. He’s too mean and stingy to make a good husband and father. No way!’ ‘Hey girls, cool it!’, came a man’s voice. ‘The dude must have had a good reason for reacting like he did.
I wouldn’t have reacted that way, but I don’t think the lady’s reaction was
the right one. To dump a guy on the spot because he said he wouldn’t pay for a plate of rice seems pretty mean to me. I thought she loved him.’ ‘Thank you, my brother,’ said another male voice. ‘I support your view. I wouldn’t have said what the guy said, but a loving girlfriend would have reacted in a humorous way, and told him’ Alright, I’ll pay.
Don’t worry. Get a smile back on your face. Can I order a plate for you too? It looks nice.’ The guy would then feel ashamed of himself and perhaps apologize. The evening would then end pleasantly.’ ‘Hello? I support the last speaker. The girl met meanness with meanness. Two wrongs never make a right.
She should have reasoned that perhaps the guy didn’t have enough money on him to cover the plate of rice, and patted his hand and told him that she would pay.’ The radio anchorwoman now broke in to ask why the lady should pay for her meal when it was the boyfriend who invited her out for drinks on her birthday.
‘Guys, he wasn’t forced to invite her out, so, allowing her to pay for anything would have been inappropriate. He should have paid for the plate of rice without complaining. I know you have to support your fellow man, but his behaviour wasn’t a loving and respectful one.’
‘Madam, shouldn’t the lady have told him first that she would like a plate of rice, instead of ordering it behind his back? Even when he returned to the table she didn’t mention it until the food was served her.’ ‘But it was no big deal! After all, she could easily pay for it herself. He invited her out so, he had to pay for whatever she wanted.’
I had to attend to other matters, so, I didn’t know how the discussion ended. Pondering on the story later, I concluded that we need to introduce Etiquette into our learning system. In our early years, our teachers passed on to us, what their own teachers had taught them about how to talk, walk, sit, get up from a chair, pick up something from the floor, use cutlery at meal times, and eat with elbows off the table.
I attended missionary (C.M.S/ANGLICAN) schools all through my formative years, and our expatriate teachers in college insisted on all these, and you just had to comply. Boys and girls were taught separately, how to comport themselves in a manner which would portray them as Ladies, and Gentlement.
I know that we’re living in an era where rules giving dignity to human behaviour/character are on their way out, and anything goes in the way you dress and behave. People now talk garbage, and comport themselves in outrageous manner, all in the name of being trendy and ‘free’.
It’s good to free, but this should come with dignity, self-control, self-respect and finesse. We worship money and a life of opulence so much these days that we’ve thrown good manners/behaviour to the wind. Not so long ago, many of the wealthy and the well-educated exuded class in the way they comported themselves and some were considered role models. Not any more. The more educated, posh and wealthy people are these days, the more they exhibit a lack of class and decency in their comportment.
I don’t blame the young ones. They can’t exhibit what wasn’t taught them at home or at school. Their parents and teachers perhaps don’t know any better themselves. So, they tend to copy their mates, usually, those with no decent upbringing themselves. We need to go back to the drawing board and bring back the teaching of etiquette, not only in educational institutions, but also at gatherings for young people, e.g. a ten minute talk at seminars, workshops, etc..
Now, back to the radio story on the couple in the restaurant. A lack of etiquette on both parts brought the discord. The lady shouldn’t have ordered any food, at the risk of remaining hungry till she got home, since the man had told her he was taking her out for drinks. Food and drinks are two different things.
To assume that he wouldn’t mind, and order food behind his back, even if he’s excessively rich, was bad manners, and showed that she lacked class. The response of the man to the incident was primitive, even though the lady was at fault for not seeking his permission first.
I’m sure he reacted harshly because of that, and also to save himself the embarrassment of not having enough money to foot the bill later. He should have remained calm, and waited to see what the bill would be. If he was short of the total, he could then ask her politely if she could lend him the balance, as he didn’t have enough money on him, and that he would re-pay the next day.
A decent lady would apologize for the situation she had caused, and make up the shortfall. She wouldn’t despise him for not having enough money on him; not if she loves him for himself. In fact, she would admire him for the mature way he handled the matter. Who knows, that may teach her to keep within the terms of an outing next time.
Decent behaviour/comportment brings you class, even if you’re poor, and they make you stand out at any gathering. What’s more, you would pass these on to your children who, if they imbibe them, would always make you proud of their total make-up.