I was on the train recently and just before I got off I saw this sign and had to take a photo of it.

Train Sign

Priority Seat – Please vacate for disabled people.

When did we start to need signs to tell us to give our seat up for someone less able? When did we stop doing the right thing unless we had a sign to tell us?

I grew up being told to say please and thank you, to hold open doors for people and to give up my seat on the bus if an elderly, disabled or pregnant person got on. Even now, as an adult, I say please and thank you – Probably far too often, I hold open doors and let people come through before I go through the door or I hold the door open a moment longer so the person behind me can take it without it swinging back at them. Giving up a seat on a train or bus is second nature – I wouldn’t dream of staying sitting if a pregnant woman got on at rush hour, for example.

Why does everyone not do these things? Why do I have to struggle through doors with a double buggy and no offer of help? Why do I often have doors swinging shut in my face where the person in front hasn’t held it that moment longer and why, often, do I slow my car so that people can cross the road and they don’t even incline their head to acknowledge that I slowed for them – They take it for granted.

When did manners start dieing out? When did people stop the common courtesies that I grew up to appreciate and also to practice? When did people start needing signs to tell them to give up their seat on public transport?

I will teach my children to say please and thank you, to give up their seat on the train, to ask if they can get down from the dinner table and to offer to help with the washing up after a meal. My children will know to wash their hands before dinner and after they go to the toilet and they will have the same respect for their elders that I had growing up.

My children will be taught these things, they won’t need a sign in the bathroom to remind them to wash their hands, a sign on a seat to tell them to stand or a sign on a train door tell them to let others off before they board.

“Life is short, but there is always time enough for courtesy.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson



  • Donna Wishart

    Donna Wishart is married to Dave and they have two children, Athena (12) and Troy (11). They live in Surrey with their two cats, Fred and George. Once a Bank Manager, Donna has been writing about everything from family finance to days out, travel and her favourite recipes since 2012. Donna is happiest either exploring somewhere new, with her camera in her hand and family by her side or snuggled up with a cat on her lap, reading a book and enjoying a nice cup of tea. She firmly believes that tea and cake can fix most things.

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  1. Totally agree – i say thank you about a million times at the check out even when i am trying not to as the cashier is so rude and doesn’t say a word!

  2. Great post! I agree with everything you said. It’s sad that everyone is so busy that they take so little time to model good manners for their kids. I am a BIG believer that manners manner greatly in life and you WILL have a better life if you learn and apply the rules of good manners and social skills. In fact as a mom of three, I have made it my priority to instill these important life skills in my kids! We need to involve kids and teach them in a fun and engaging way these vital skills–especially when they see so much rudeness today in life and TV.

    Best, Suzanne Wind
    Mom with a Mission
    Author of The SMART Playbook – Game-changing life skills for a modern world (activity books for kids on manners!)

  3. Ignorance, that’s what it is. I’m very proud that our little bear says ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘excuse me’. She’s not perfect but at such a young age, it’s a good start…

  4. What’s even worse is that people ignore the signs. I got the metro in Manchester last summer & not once did anyone offer me a seat (I was quite clearly pregnant & tired). I laughed it off but was really quite surprised at the lack of common courtesy displayed. I would always give up my seat to someone who needed it more than me. How is that not normal these days?

  5. This really irritates me too. I’ve told people to get up before now and they’ve done as I’ve told. I do still see lots of people doing the right thing and so we’re not doomed just yet 🙂

  6. I noticed today on the motorway that there are now signs asking people to take their rubbish home because other people do. It’s awful that we need those signs, but we do – I’m aghast at how much litter people chuck out of their car windows! And you’re totally right about the manners too. I’d love that sign for my loo though!

  7. It does seem like there are fewer manners sometimes. Part of the problem is people in this generation are busier than people in previous generations and the unfortunate side effect is that some people “zone out” to their surroundings and just simply don’t notice others – like rushing through a door to get to the next place on time, whilst also multi tasking an email or just simply planning out in their minds – they just don’t notice someone behind them to hold the door for. People are becoming more engrossed in their busy little bubble.
    Also as we become more multicultural as communities we get a mixture of backgrounds and manners.
    Some cultures have higher and more complex manners than the “traditional British” and some have much fewer manners or have it ingrained from their previous family generation that some people don’t matter as much – such as women being of lesser value than a man – a man from that background or culture is not easily going to hold the door for a woman or offer up his seat because his background has taught him not to.
    Or some cultures have lower hygiene standards than others so a reminder to wash hands after going to the toilet is needed because the place they grew up didn’t have that as standard – I used to work with someone who said that in the place where he grew up, people would literally do a number 2 at the side of the pavement and then go back to cooking “street food” and equally in the same workspace there was someone who grew up with much greater expectation of manners than you get in traditional British.
    I think all we can do is encourage kindness and try to be polite and keep in mind the amazing blend of cultures we are lucky to have – we can all learn from each other xx

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