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On Saying Please: AHSEC, BSEM summary, notes, extras

an angry man on saying please

Get here summary, extras, and pdf of the chapter “On Saying Please” by A.G. Gardiner of the Assam Board (AHSEC / SEBA) Class 11 (first year) Alternative English (Seasons) textbook and Manipur Board (BSEM) Class 10 English literature reader. However, the given notes/solutions should only be used for references and should be modified/changed according to needs.

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AHSEC Class 11 Alternative English version notes
BSEM Class 10 English Literature version notes


In his essay “On Saying Please,” A. G. Gardiner describes an incident in which a lift attendant threw a passenger out of the lift because the man had rudely demanded to be taken to the highest floor of the building. The passenger flatly refused the lift operator’s request for a more polite request that included the word “please.” The lift operator then threw the customer out of the elevator. In response to this incident, Gardiner remarked that the liftman’s behaviour could not be tolerated even though there is no law against being impolite.

As A.G. Gardiner explains in his essay “On Saying Please,” politeness is not optional. A lift operator who ejected a passenger who didn’t say “Please” is the first example Gardiner uses in his essay. An aggressive reaction is neither justified by the law nor justified by rudeness and incivility. In today’s legal system, rude and offensive behaviour goes unpunished. But that doesn’t mean unacceptable actions are justified. This kind of treatment, like the lift guy’s, wounds our pride and diminishes our sense of self-worth. Since this is the case, we end up inflicting pain on other people. Inconsiderate behaviour harms us more than all the crimes in the world combined. Yet it is impossible to regulate human behaviour and emotions through civil or religious law. Politeness is reflected in the frequency with which we use “Please” and “Thank You.”

Cooperation is essential to human existence, and these phrases make it easier to run a civilised society. Instead of demanding and commanding, which only breeds resentment, a polite attitude breeds eager workers. In his essay, Gardiner describes bus drivers who view their customers as the enemy. Then he recalls a specific conductor who let him board the bus even though he hadn’t paid the fare. It had an impact on the writer nonetheless. The same conductor also once accidentally stubbed the author’s toes with his thick soles. The author was pleased by his prompt apology. Gardiner continued to observe the bus driver’s exceptional qualities and kindness in a number of other situations. His pleasant demeanour and willingness to aid others had a positive effect on those around him. 

It’s important to keep up a culture of civility in public life. Even just doing this would help us become more likeable and understanding towards one another. When confronted with rudeness or disrespect, instead of reacting violently as the elevator operator did, one should try to be polite. This alone will be enough to give us a moral victory. While Gardiner’s heart goes out to the liftman, we have to admit that the law is on the right track in protecting us from the temptation to physically harm those whose behaviour or words we find offensive. Because if we were given such freedoms, we would constantly be using our hands to hit other people, leading to widespread civil disobedience and anarchy. Publicly labelling someone as rude is the only deterrent against them. Conversely, the law would shield him from harm rather than bring him to justice. As with a person’s outward appearance, the law places no constraints on one’s social behaviour. In fact, there is no mechanism in the legal system to protect individuals from having their moral or intellectual well-being compromised by rude others.

The essay “On Saying. Please,” written by A.G. Gardner, discusses the value of the words “please” and “thank you” in everyday interactions. Many heated disagreements can be avoided or resolved this way, and anger can be tempered. The author of this essay discusses the significance of polite behaviour in modern society. A.G. Gardner supports his arguments with anecdotes from his own life. When one passenger did not say “top please”, the lift operator threw them out. Because of this, the lift guy’s actions were wrong. As a result, the elevator guy’s behaviour was both illegal and immoral.

The writer claims that our behaviour has worsened because of the war. Fighting has a dehumanising effect on people, making them rude and uncivil. He says that the key to a happy life is reviving good manners. Those who are habitually impolite need to be shown a lesson in manners.

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Additional/extra questions and answers/solutions

1. Describe the incident involving the lift-man and the passenger in the beginning of the essay.

Answer: The incident described at the beginning of the essay involves a lift-man in a city office who threw a passenger out of his lift for not saying “Please”. When the passenger asked to be taken to the top floor, he did not use the word “Please”, which angered the lift-man and led to the physical altercation.

2. What legal consequences did the lift-man face for his actions?

Answer: He was brought before the magistrate and fined for his behavior.

3. Explain the author’s view on the relationship between the law and manners.

Answer: The author believes that while the law can punish offenses against society, it cannot intervene in matters of personal manners and courtesy. Gardiner argues that good manners are not enforceable by law and that they are a matter of personal responsibility and social etiquette.

4. Discuss the impact of discourtesy on personal feelings as explained in the essay.

Answer: In the essay, Gardiner emphasizes that discourtesy can deeply hurt personal feelings. He explains that rude behavior or a lack of manners can lead to negative emotions, creating a hostile and unpleasant environment.

5. How does the author illustrate the infectious nature of bad manners?

Answer: The author illustrates the infectious nature of bad manners by stating that one act of rudeness or discourtesy can lead to another, creating a chain reaction. He implies that bad manners can spread negativity and affect the mood and behavior of others.

6. What is the significance of the phrases ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’ according to Gardiner?

Answer: According to Gardiner, the phrases ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’ are significant as they represent the essence of good manners and civility. They are small courtesies that add a touch of humanity and respect to daily interactions.

7. Describe the character and behavior of the polite bus conductor mentioned in the essay.

Answer: The polite bus conductor mentioned in the essay is characterized by his exceptional manners and courteous behavior. He is described as being patient, respectful, and considerate towards his passengers, always using polite language and showing kindness.

8. How did the polite bus conductor’s attitude impact his passengers?

Answer: The polite bus conductor’s attitude positively impacted his passengers. His good manners and cheerful demeanor made the journey more pleasant for everyone, demonstrating the positive effect that civility can have in everyday life.

9. Explain Gardiner’s perspective on the role of law in governing manners and civility.

Answer: Gardiner’s perspective is that the law has a limited role in governing manners and civility. He argues that while the law can address crimes and public offenses, it cannot and should not regulate personal manners, which are governed by social customs and individual responsibility.

10. What lesson does the author suggest the lift-man could have learned from the story of Lord Chesterfield?

Answer: The author suggests that the lift-man could have learned the importance of good manners and civility from the story of Lord Chesterfield. Lord Chesterfield was known for his emphasis on the value of politeness and courteous behavior.

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19. What does Gardiner imply about the effect of war on everyday civilities?

Answer: Gardiner implies that war has a detrimental effect on everyday civilities. He suggests that the brutality and harshness of war can lead to a general coarsening of manners and a decline in civil behavior in society.

20. Compare and contrast the reactions of the lift-man and the polite bus conductor to uncivil behavior.

Answer: The lift-man reacted to uncivil behavior with aggression and physical confrontation, while the polite bus conductor responded to difficult situations with patience and kindness. The lift-man’s response was punitive and harsh, whereas the bus conductor’s approach was understanding and compassionate, showcasing a stark contrast in handling incivility.

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