The Manners Guy: On Cursing and Criticizing

What do you do if a guy starts cursing during your child's basketball game?

A cursing word bubble

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Speak No Evil

Last year, I took my 7-year-old grandson to a basketball game, and the man sitting behind us kept using vulgar words. I asked him to tone down his language, but he shrugged and went on using obscenities. Suggestions? —Annoyed in Arlington

Unfortunately, you can’t control others’ behavior, but you can make sure your grandson understands how you feel about such vulgarities. In fact, it can be a teachable moment. Discuss ways to use language creatively instead of relying on common profanities.

Rude Awakening

How is a person supposed to express deserved criticism in the current environment? When a worker is rude and unhelpful, it should be a person’s right to ask to speak to their manager. But try that these days, and some kid films you for TikTok or calls you “Karen” or “Hey Boomer.”   

—Tactful in Texas

Since customer service workers have been forced to risk their lives for the last year to move coffee and hamburgers through the economy, you might consider cutting them some slack. Were they really that “rude and unhelpful”? Put yourself in their shoes and you might see things differently.

The Manners Guy is a former bartender who knows his way around awkward social situations. Send your questions to [email protected].

This article is featured in the March/April 2021 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

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  1. Regarding ‘Speak No Evil’ this has become a real problem (in particular) over the past 35 years in large part due to the mainstreaming of the ‘f’ word in films, video games and ‘music’ legitimizing its use as acceptable; anywhere, anytime when it isn’t. This also corresponds to the ghettoization of this country and skyrocketing violence that’s so out of control.

    Fortunately the man at the basketball game didn’t attack the man or his grandson. I’m surprised, frankly. For years children’s little league games have been a hot bed of violence and viciousness by “adults” against other parents and their young children. Life is too stressful for me to put myself around people like that, but to each his/her own. Your advice was good. At that point all you can do is make it a teachable moment. I might have tried to see if I could find seats further away though.


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