Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen

There is a saying that it takes eight generations to breed a gentleman. Money can be be found in one but manners take another seven.

To be sure this is slightly elitist, very few families, even those that are perfectly well-mannered, can trace their history that far back, but the crucial fact: that new money generally goes with poor conduct is well borne out by experience.

However there are many people who appear to be reasonably agreeable and inoffensive until one meets them in a traffic accident or marries them, at which point they turn out to be utter cads, so some means of identifying such specimens at a distance would be useful.

I am a poor driver and have had many minor accidents in the past. In order to avoid the hassle I've generally tried to settle the matter without going through the insurance companies. The end result is that I get cheated. Times without number I have paid up without question or complaint, usually many times over what the actual repair would have cost. I find it so disagreeable to deal with such people that I prefer to pay up and finish it rather than negotiate, especially when it is fairly apparent that they are out to take you to the cleaners.

The situation seems worse when the car the other person is driving has already got a number of dents or scrapes. (I would expect the opposite- if car is shiny and new I can understand them being a bit fussy). They seem to want to recover the cost of all the numerous repairs from any unfortunate who bumps into them.

So how does one really know a gentleman from a cad? Unfortunately it is only when one is involved in a dispute do the true colours show. Anyone who can conduct himself with civility, grace and dignity in a dispute carries the true hallmarks of a gentlemen.

General Robert Edward Lee is supposed to have defined a gentleman as:

"The forbearing use of power does not only form a touchstone, but the manner in which an individual enjoys certain advantages over others is a test of a true gentleman.

The power which the strong have over the weak, the employer over the employed, the educated over the unlettered, the experienced over the confiding, even the clever over the silly--the forbearing or inoffensive use of all this power or authority, or a total abstinence from it when the case admits it, will show the gentleman in a plain light

The gentleman does not needlessly and unnecessarily remind an offender of a wrong he may have committed against him. He cannot only forgive, he can forget; and he strives for that nobleness of self and mildness of character which impart sufficient strength to let the past be but the past. A true man of honor feels humbled himself when he cannot help humbling others."

In the local political sphere the treatment meted out to former friends is quite instructive.

If anyone has a short cut to assessing people let me know. In the meantime Lou Bega has this to say:



Anonymous said...

now whats your point here not so gentleman ass?

Anonymous said...

Looks like you hit a nerve with a so called 'gentleman' :)

Cadence said...

Was in a minor accident recently and surprisingly the guy I had to deal with was pretty down to earth and honest. Transparent to the extent that I felt no hassle in helping him with the dent to his Bike.

But I get ur point here. Once this bike fellow knocked on my car and his foot pedal merely twisted, the dude wanted 5K! The worst part was tht it happened in front of a cop and the cop had the audacity (I saw!) to nod his head to the bike guy, discuss something between them and then come up with the exorbitant sum...all for a pedal, which I'm told wud have costed him a max of 300/- at a garage to get straightened!

Luckily I had a friend in the car with me who sorted the matter out for 500 bucks! He only backed down when we said fine, we'll pay u for the damage but let's take it to the cop shed for an entry first. He cudnt get outta there faster! :D

Jack Point said...

Yes Cadence. Our dealings with strangers when we have, in effect, no reputation to lose, will reveal the true rapacity inherent in our nature.

Tempering base nature is what manners and ultimately civilisation is about.

Anon 2 - hee hee:)

sue said...

Do let me know when you take the road. I might stay home that day ;o)..just kidding!!!
My hubby knocked on a bike recently and the #$%&'s sticker got a scratch! The STICKER!!! and wanted 1000 bucks for it! He also backed down when hubby wanted to go to the police.

Lady divine said...

hmmm... some people really can be frustrating to deal with.

I haven't really faced accidents accept two.

(1) A few weeks after my dad's death,when I was driving home after work, a CTB bus driver knocked on one side and dragged.. my back buffer came off and the entire left side was in bad shape. I was scared and well affected. I called the insurance company, my uncle and a few colleagues. The bus driver screamed at me asking me to pay him 600 bucks and it wasn't even my fault! But i was scared and the people in the bus were telling me to pay the driver coz they need to go home and don't have the luxuries i have..:( So i gave the money.. sigh and this was about 5 years ago.

(2) a tuk tuk guy hit me on the side. hardly much damage to both vehicles but he wanted me to pay him eventhough he had full insurance! I gave him a good piece of my mind, as I toughened up a bit after the first accident, and told him to call his own damn insurance and sort if out. and that's exactly what he did. :)

But I know some nasty things that have happened.. some people really do disgust me with their behaviour.

Jack Point said...

Sue, I'm out at about 7.10-7.20am and back around 4.45-5pm ;)

LD, they tend to more aggressive if there is a female involved; unless you bite back.

Lee's point on the use power and position is so true is'nt it?

Whacko said...

traffic accidents bring out the worst in people eh. Nothing destroys 'gentlemanly' demeanor worse than road rage!

i don't think money really has anything to do with being a gentleman when its a matter of morality and virtue.

Jack Point said...

Exactly what I said Whacko. Money does not make the gentleman.

Blissfully Ignorant* said...

wow. Nicely said. I could not agree with you more, however I strongly advise always getting the police/ insurance involved.

2 years ago morning traffic, a car rams in to the back of my car. It was slow moving traffic and for some reason the guy behind me just accelerated and was looking away and didn't break :S I luckily had my foot on the break, or it would have made me go ram in to the car in front of me! I was getting late for work, felt bad for the guy and hardly any damages to my car (his front was crumpled - couldn't help but feel a little smug about it). I left.

Weeks later my dad discovers the back, underneath the bumper there was a dent in the car - he was not happy.

Jack Point said...

Thanks for dropping by Blissfully Ignorant and yes, you need to cover yourself in an accident, always double check the damage to your vehicle.

Book Baker said...

There really is no point in me joining in the talk on road accidents. I don't drive.(feeling very sheepish now :) On the other hand, on gentlemen, you know what they say "You can measure a man not by how he treats his superiors by but his inferiors". But my favourite is "true test of a gentleman is how he treats those who can do nothing for him". It's true isn't it? Nice post btw. :)

Jack Point said...

Thanks for dropping by, Book Baker we motorists value the input of pedestrians you know, even if we may run them down occasionally;)

Your views on what makes a gentlemen chime in with the views of the majority.