Manners: A Dead Language

If you ever watch an old movie, take a movie that took place in the 1950’s for example, you can observe people holding doors open for those coming in and out of a shop. You can witness young men at dances gently approaching young women and politely asking if they could “have this dance.” You would see two people collide on a sidewalk, one dropping their belongings, and the other stops to help them gather their things. When insults arose, even those generally sounded proper. While I acknowledge that real life in the 50’s wasn’t nearly as colorful as the movies portrayed, it opened my eyes to this dead language we call manners.

How many times can you remember yourself looking down at your phone pretending to text when you were about to pass someone you didn’t want to talk to? How many times have you entered a building realizing someone was close behind you, only to shove the door open and try to walk through it quick enough that you didn’t have to hold it for the person behind you? How many times have your friends vented to you while you were enthralled by your phone, only to have to ask them to repeat what they said because you missed it?

It’s okay, we all do it. Not one person on this Earth can say they haven’t done at least one of those things at some point in their life. I often see people using their cellphones as a crutch for countless things. I’ve heard of breakups being done through text messages instead of face-to-face or over the phone. I see men at dance clubs shoving themselves onto young women and grinding on them until they are pushed off. I’ve witnessed someone struggling to hold something they were carrying while numerous people noticed but kept walking on to wherever they were headed. I’ve even noticed a woman in an ice cream shop drop $10 unknowingly while the man behind her bent down and tried to pocket the cash.

When did this become okay? When did society decide it was socially acceptable to become so obnoxious, ignorant, and mannerless? Call my family old fashioned but I was raised with a different set of expectations. While I am definitely guilty of forgetting manners, I was taught that if someone is right behind you, you hold the door open for them. I was taught that if something is important or urgent, a text will not suffice; A phone call is expected. I was taught that if someone you know is passing by, you say hello no matter what mood you’re in, whether you like them or not. I was taught that if I’m having a guest over at the house, they get first choice of what we do, and it’s my job to make sure they’re comfortable and welcomed.

Again, I am in no way perfect, and neither are you. I can openly admit I’ve been that person who walks by the stumbling person in need of a hand. It happens, and sometimes we don’t know how to react. However, I do my best to keep manners alive in a world where common courtesy and humility can many times be nonexistent. I hope reflecting on these instances opens your eyes as much as it opens mine. I hope the next time you’re uncomfortable or see someone you don’t want to talk to, that you put your phone down and say hello anyways. Hold that door open for the person behind you. Say your please and thank you’s. Always remember, holding a door doesn’t take more than ten seconds, and a smile is free.


Game Day: A Pine-Rider’s Perspective

Endless amounts of instagram pictures and facebook posts of action photos litter my feed every Friday and Saturday morning, reminding me that today is the two dreaded words, “game day.” This day is not “dreaded” because I hate the team, I’m not dressing, or anything along those lines (which are all beyond false). Game day is dreadful for a pine rider because this day consists of a large spectrum of emotion. We must sit and watch our team play the sport we’ve loved since we were little girls, while we contain the anger, happiness, anxiety, fear, and eagerness that we are flooded with.

I would be lying to you if I said we weren’t angry when we didn’t dress. If we were satisfied with watching our friends play the sport we love while sitting out, we would be poor athletes. We’re happy because we love the sport, and can’t wait to see the outcome of all the hard work our team has put in all week. We are eager to see what happens throughout the game, keeping injuries, goals, penalties, and our team’s overall performance in mind. We watch like hawks for any opportunity that may arise for us to play. While we want the team to be successful, we also hope the success includes us being in the lineup.¬†We feel anxiety and fear because we are afraid of being in someone’s way or not doing something we have been asked to do correctly, which brings me to my next point: all the things we do for the team.

While my teammates warm-up, tape their sticks, listen to their iPods, play soccer, and sing out blurbs of rap songs that come on in the locker room, we are busy doing all the dirty work that the sport entails. We are grabbing 50 hockey sticks by the arm-full and carrying them to the bench, which may or may not be all the way across the rink. We then organize each stick into numerical order, which isn’t always a speedy task. We then fill up all 12 water bottles with the best quality water we can find, and must carry them around to the bench and into the locker room, only to have to refill them a half hour later. We must make sure the whiteboard for drawing plays is in the right spot on the bench. We must make sure the medical kit is somewhere easily accessible. All before the game.

Finally, we get time to rest. As a group, we talk about what we think the outcome of the game will be, and how we have been looking as a team in practice. We ask each other how we’re holding up, giving each other emotional pep-talks to keep each other going for the next three hours. Maybe if we’re lucky, we can sneak in a quick book read or juggle with the soccer ball. After what seems like an eternity, it’s finally game time.

Now, we must record the game, our hands ice bricks by the end of the period. One of us must rush down to lock and unlock the locker rooms in time for the team to come in. Most times, we will pat each player on the shoulder as she walks by, sometimes getting the occasional sour face and “not now” comment, depending on how the period went. In between periods, we often get the “can you get me a…” comment, which we rush off to get before it’s time to hit the ice again. Then, there’s the team meal.

Each away game, we are asked to meet the caterer at the door, grab the food, and place it on the bus. Doing so results in us missing a portion of the game, just our luck always happening to be the most eventful parts. When the game is over, we have to round up 25 sticks, inhalers, water bottles, the board, and anything else that was left on the bench. We then dump the water out and round up ice bags for the athletes in need. These tasks may not seem terrible, which they generally aren’t, but it’s an entirely different experience for the team pine riders.

Sometimes, flustered teammates take their emotions out on us. Sometimes coaches lecture us about a mistake we made in regards to one of our assigned jobs. Sometimes, we aren’t quick enough to get the items teammates need and hear about it. We are floating in a subliminal exile, since we don’t get to wear the sweater we dreamt all week about wearing. Sometimes our comments to the team in between periods are contested, even though we have the best view in the house. Every single game, we are given blank stares by parents, condescending looks from the other team, and are laughed at by cocky college boys. This makes our lives even harder while we try to hide all the powerful emotions we are feeling.

You have no idea how amazing it feels when a teammate thanks us for something on game day, no matter how small the task was. It makes us feel reconnected with the team, and reinspires us to keep helping. It makes us feel respected on a day where we are just bystanders at a hockey game. After all, we are your biggest supporters and loudest fans.

I think every player should have to sit one game to understand how privileged they are to pull the sweater over their head every game day. Those who do find it humbling to see what we see and do what we do. We fight all week through the sweat, tears, and internal frustration only to reap no reward. Try sitting for one game, two games, eight games. It only gets harder. It takes a hard shelled, mentally tough, irrationally supportive, strong person to be a pine rider, and only the toughest survive.