Manners maketh man

Back in the 1300’s in England William of Wykeham hit the nail on the head with this famous quote – such a good quote that it became the motto of Winchester College and New College Oxford.  Simple good manners are a basic requirement for civilised living so what happened?  Did we forget something somewhere in the sixties revolution?  Were we all so determined to kick the old guard in the ass that we permanently said goodbye to good manners? 

Canadians have been admired – or derided – for our polite ways.  Clearly this national characteristic was not in play in the Dominican Republic this week when a young man lost his life – beaten to death by drunken thugs.  To make matters worse this was no ordinary bar fight.  It actually took place right inside a 4 star all inclusive resort in Punta Cana.  Now the reason we all flock to this sort of gated paradise is so that we can experience a carefree summer vacation – basically behind bars.  Many visitors to these resorts never even see outside of the resort except for their airport transfer.  We want safe, cheap, sunny places with good beaches, generous buffets and unlimited liquor.  There’s the problem – unlimited liquor.  Clearly these men were drunk.  In fact many of the “incidents” we hear about in places like Mexico and the DR usually involve drinks and/or drugs.

This mannerly drought is not only evident in the punch up’s at all inclusives.  It is very much out there even on luxury cruise ships like the Seabourn Odyssey.  Many mornings I sat in the coffee bar at Seabourn Square and witnessed passengers arriving for their morning “fix” (coffee that is – no bar fights here).  The barista would go out of his way to greet each person by name and instead was treated to “I’ll have a latte”, “make it extra hot”.  No please.  Mmmm.  When the latte arrived you would swear the barista was invisible.  Not a  thank you in sight.  Goodness me.  If that had been my grandchild she would have got a slap.  OK I know you are not supposed to do that any more but that’s how we used to raise kids. 

There was one young man who had manners in the Dominican Republic and he was beaten to death.  He tried to protect a young woman from these thugs who had allegedly spat in her face.  Apparently at least one Canadian has been arrested and and may well be charged with homicide.  The important thing here is to make sure that there is a fair trial in the Domincan but he should be tried there.  I hope there won’t be a big rush to use up taxpayers money to try to bring him home to Canada to serve his sentence here – and if he is found guilty he will be getting to know the Dominican Republic very well indeed.  I have a mental picture of the Panamanian prison in the TV series Prison Break.  Not pleasant.  Maybe while he is there he can watch re-runs of the National Geographic documentaries Banged Up Abroad.

By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.

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