Forget travelling like one for a moment – what does being a ‘gentleman’ really mean?
The word, ‘gentleman’ once specifically identified a man of distinguished birth. As time progressed, ‘gentleman’ was broadened to include a man of good standing. Today, ‘gentleman’ refers to a chivalrous, courteous and honourable man – young or mature. I like my own category – modern gentleman. In a future post, I’ll explain my definition of a modern gentleman. No matter whose definition or criteria is used, there has been a shift in what being a gentleman means: it has evolved to describe an acceptable code of conduct that has nothing to do with how high or low in society you’re born.
We commonly call gentlemanly behaviour’ manners,’ which simply put is about being aware of others, considerate to everyone and putting the company you keep at ease at any given time.
All that said, have you tried travelling and keeping your composure at the same time? Can you be considerate and stay well-mannered as a gentleman should?
Today, travelling anywhere begets its own stresses. If you’re travelling for pleasure and your journey is one to enjoy, smiles, please, thank you, and sometimes even pardon me can go by the wayside as you trundle through the maddening crowds to get to your destination. Doors slam in your face after you’ve held the very same door for someone else, you don’t receive the same courtesies you offer and you might even be pushed or shoved with no regard by a host of passersby. It’s true.
Is there still time for you to behave like a gentleman during these challenging times? Yes. Absolutely.
We love our personal space. I love mine and if people get too close to us, we tend to take a step back. When in a metropolis, you can expect to have somebody’s armpit in your face on a train or subway on a hot summer’s day. And, as unpleasant as the armpit may be, we must accept the conditions. We have little choice unless you step off and wait for the next ride. While using the London Underground during rush hour, for instance, you can expect to be mashable from all sides. You must accept to be part of the tin sardine pack or do as I do and avoid rush hour. A brisk walk across the golden city is far more amenable in my opinion, and the exercise is better for you.
Travel by airplane is no better. In fact, courteousness has fallen by the wayside as the airport experience has worsened with heightened security and unnecessary fees. Sometimes I watch flight attendants and think they’re more like bouncers at a nightclub. Perhaps if everyone had and used proper manners flying would feel all the more civilized.
Of course, if you are seated in first or business class on an aeroplane, your travel experience will be different than in economy. I was shoved aside by a flight attendant during my last economy experience. If that wasn’t enough, I was squeezed into an uncomfortable spot in my seat because the person sitting next to me spilt over into my space. The two occurrences happened on a single flight. This was enough to tell me I’d never see economy again. My choice is not based on elitism, but instead unacceptable instances in flying economy.
The trials of long-haul travel and others habits or discourteous acts will test your tolerance to the max. One of the biggest irritations on any flight is the reclining seat. If a meal has been served, you should always consider the person seated behind before adjusting your position. It’s only right. Getting up repeatedly and disturbing those either side at inappropriate times also falls within the territory of ungentlemanly behaviour. After all, enduring a flight seated next to a constant talker who turns into a fidgeter is enough to unsettle even the most relaxed of frequent fliers.
We all like to mentally go into our own zones when we’re amongst crowds. In other words, we distance ourselves. Should you choose to ‘step away’ from the crowd with your headphones, be sure to use the noise cancelling sort and keep the volume down. You don’t want to unknowingly disturb others. Listen to flight attendant’s instructions and act accordingly. The rules of flights apply to everyone.
Finally, your home away from home – the hotel. The interaction between yourself and hotel staff defines the success of any hotel; however, it also reveals much about a man’s manners. A gentleman shows respect at all times to all staff, not only to the concierge or management who might greet you. Some of my best friends and even experiences resulted from genuine good manners at hotels. This is true. Also, remember to observe local customs no matter where you are when it comes to your behaviour and dress.
Being a gentleman is not difficult. Being a modern gentleman can mean you’re casual but it always means you project yourself in good light. Be mindful of others, respect everyone and play nice whether you’re travelling on the Underground or 30,000 feet in the air. The notion of being a gentleman is straightforward. Being a gentleman demands courtesy, consideration and compromise.
There is nothing old-fashioned or difficult about being a gentleman. More times than not being a gentleman will benefit you more in the long run. If you haven’t already, give being a genuine gentleman a go.