Gentlemen and their hats

The man appeared about 20 minutes into the 11:00 a.m. worship service at the church we attend. He silently made his way down the gently sloping center aisle and took a seat on the right side in the fourth row. Few appeared to pay attention to his arrival, but I noticed. I found myself staring at the baseball cap on his head, where it remained throughout the service, including communion.

I confess that seeing men and boys wearing hats — usually baseball caps — indoors makes me uncomfortable. I shouldn’t judge others’ manners, but I do. I’m working on trying to adjust my judgemental attitude, which developed, I am certain, from my parents’ influence on me and my siblings when we were children. Men and boys remove their hats indoors as a sign of respect. Always. You, too? Some things our parents teach us stay with us for all our lives, don’t they?

If we were wearing a hat, we males always took it off as soon as we entered a building. We certainly wouldn’t wear it inside a house of worship and definitely not while seated at a meal. Next time you’re at a restaurant, look around and take notice of the guys who are chomping away while chatting with their companions, their ball caps still atop their heads. I suspect that these men and boys have no idea that their poor manners are on display. Perhaps no one ever taught them otherwise. If that’s so, it’s a pity. At sports events, men remove their hats during the national anthem to show respect. This tradition persists, but not removing one’s hat indoors. Curious.

Still, this hat-indoors behavior is not enough to signal a general decline in proper manners, I would argue. Strangers invariably hold a door open for me in public places, I find, even when I’m several feet away and must increase my pace and hurry to the door to set them free. They are trying to show respect and be kind. They are thinking of the “other person.”

Isn’t that what good manners are about?

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