Sunday, November 13, 2011

Keeping Chivalry Alive

Photo by Angela Gentile

Something happened to me in a matter of 24 hours that left such an impression on me and made me think a lot about chivalry and how things have changed over the years.

One day, I received a message on my phone from a 77-year-old client of mine.  In his message, he told me that he wanted to cancel the request for a meeting with the psychologist.  He explained that, “Having talked to you was a great help to me and I think you’re terrific, Angela”.  I was impressed by his kind, polite words.  The very same day, I assessed another client who was 84-years-old.  He had Alzheimer’s type dementia, and his speech was unintelligle.  I sensed his gentle nature, and as I was leaving, I held out my hand to shake his, and he gently took my hand in his, and brought it up to his mouth and gave me a light kiss on the back of my hand.  I was touched by his kindness.  Although he was unable to say thank you, he used this time-honoured gesture to say thanks.  As I was leaving the building an elderly man (in his 80’s I guess), was also leaving at the same time.  I struck up a light conversation about the weather with him as we were walking out together to the parking lot.  As I opened my trunk to put my briefcase into it, I wished him a nice day.  He replied, “Nice car”. 

What I learned from these three older men, that chivalry is not dead.  Chivalry may have been beaten down a bit but the older generation is still going strong. 

That very same day, as I was driving home, I was stopped at an intersection, and my window was open slightly.  There were two white vans in line to my right, both ready to turn right onto the busy highway.  All of a sudden, I heard a gruff male voice, shouting, “What are you waiting for, Asshole?”  I looked back to see who was shouting such angry vulgarities, and it was a very unhappy looking middle-aged man.  This set me back a bit.  After having such positive experiences with the three other men that same day, it made me wonder why is there such a big difference in the way the older men are versus the middle-aged man. 

Is it that the older men have lived in a time when women appreciated being treated nicely?  When men lived with grace and tolerance?  Are the mature men of today that angry?  Will these mid-lifers remain angry and intolerant as they age?  Where are the social graces?  He had no clue who was driving that van.  Maybe it was a woman?

What about our sons?  Are we raising our sons to be polite?  Are we encouraging them to hold doors open for women?  Are we having these discussions with our daughters?  I think all the rules are changing.  Women want equality, but they also want to be treated with respect.  I think most of us women secretly like and appreciate chivalrous behaviour from our men.  I know I really appreciate it when I make a home visit and the man of the house takes my coat, hangs it up and when I am leaving, actually helps me put it on.  That is so sweet.  I don’t expect my husband to open the car door for me, but it would be nice.  Helping me with my heavy bags is also a very chivalrous kind of gesture, and it’s much appreciated.

Ladies, the next time a man opens a door for you and lets you go first, smile, say “Thank you” and remember that chivalry is not dead, yet.  These men may learn to age gracefully and keep chivalry alive, for it is very charming and makes women feel treasured. 
Have a great day!

~ Angela Gentile


Kim said...

Hi Angela....I agree about the middle aged and younger men not always being gentlemen...I find that its almost always an older man that will hold the door open for you at a department store...unfortunately many younger men will slam the door in your face...I always make a point of letting any younger man know how much I appreciate his gesture so that perhaps he will hold that door open for the next lady he encounters...and when an older man holds the door I always comment ahhh a gentlemen few and far between these days...and they usually get a good chuckle out of this comment...great post!

Angela Gentile said...

Hi Kim. Thanks for adding your thoughts and I'll have to remember to add that comment, "ahh, a gentleman, few and far between these days". Thanks for reading and have an awesome day!