Get here the summary, questions, answers, textbook solutions, 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. However, the given notes/solutions should only be used for references and should be modified/changed according to needs.
Summary: 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.
I. Answer these questions in one or two words.
1. Where was Alfred G. Gardiner born?
Answer: Alfred G. Gardiner was born in England.
2. Is discourtesy a legal offence?
Answer: No, discourtesy is not a legal offence.
3. Which literary period did John Keats belong to?
Answer: John Keats belonged to the Romantic Period.
4. What effect has the war had on the niceties and civilities of life?
Answer: According to the author, wars have dehumanised society and taken away the niceties and civilities of life.
5. Who does Gardiner ‘feature’ in his essay as a perfect example of polite social behaviour?
Answer: Gardiner features the bus conductor in his essay as a perfect example of polite social behaviour.
II. Answer these questions in a few words.
1. Why did the young liftman in the city office throw the passenger out of his lift?
Answer: The young list-man in the city office threw the passenger out because the man wouldn’t say “please” when he was asked to.
2. What does the law say with regard to “discourtesy”?
Answer: Discourteous behaviour is not punishable by law.
3. What would happen if we were at liberty to physically assault someone just because any aspect of his demeanour was unacceptable to us?
Answer: Total violence, anarchy, and social collapse would result if we were at liberty to physically assault someone just because any aspect of his demeanour was unacceptable to us.
4. What is the penalty for a person for being uncivil?
Answer: An inconsiderate person pays the price in social discomfort and inconvenience.
5. What happened to Gardiner one day when he sat reading on the top of a bus?
Answer: While taking the bus, Gardiner realised he had forgotten his wallet at home and had no money with which to continue his journey.
III. Answer these questions briefly.
1. How does the “pain of a wound to our self-respect” linger?
Answer: A bruise on the shins heals quickly, but a blow to our pride or ego can taint our entire day. Without being able to throw the person who insulted him out of the lift, I can imagine that lift-man stewing over the insult more and more with each passing hour. The passenger probably just wanted to get back at his boss for not saying “Good morning” to him in the morning, so he said “Top” to the lift operator. The world is infected with our bad mood. Inconsiderate people likely taint society more than criminals do in a year. However, the law should not be the arbiter of our personal conduct. To govern our social civilities, speech, the tilt of our eyebrows, and all our moods and manners would require a law that no decalogue or court could administer.
2. What kind of victory is preferable? How would the lift-man have scored a more effective victory?
Answer: If we can maintain our composure and our polite demeanour no matter what the situation, we may lose the material advantage, but we will always come out victorious in the end from a moralistic point of view, which is better than any tangible victory.
The author believes that if the liftman had treated the gentleman with elaborate politeness, he would have gained more satisfying and lasting revenge. Then, not only would he have triumphed over the rude gentleman but also over himself, since even if the polite man lost the material advantage, he would have won the moral and ethical conflict.
3. What prompts Gardiner to heap praise on the bus conductor?
Answer: Gardiner heaped praise on the bus conductor because The bus driver was a pleasant, down-to-earth man. He had an abundance of tolerance and patience. Never once did he get angry. He was basically perfect in every way. He made sure that everyone in the bus was fine. His passengers found him to be exceptionally helpful. He was a doting father to the kids, but a respectful son to the elders. With the youth, he shared a great laugh. He was especially compassionate toward the visually impaired and those with physical impairments. At one point, when the author was strapped for cash, he helped him out by buying him a ticket. He once apologised to the author after stepping on his toe. Because of his politeness, the author gained some insight into proper conduct. One could therefore conclude that the bus driver possessed a wide range of skills and abilities. Respect and politeness are life lessons we can learn from his character. Having these manners will make you happy.
IV. Answer these questions in detail.
1. “Please and Thank you” are the small changes with which we pay our way as social beings. Explain.
Answer: Positive first impressions are made when we use the words “please” and “thank you” when asking for and receiving assistance. Having good manners and courtesy enables us to treat others with kindness. People who act politely earn our trust and admiration. We show the people we talk to that we appreciate them taking the time to talk to us. When we treat others with kindness and respect, we treat ourselves in a better mood as well. Having a positive effect on those around us and on ourselves is a direct result of practising good manners.
2. Write, in your own words, about the incident on the bus involving the bus conductor and the author.
Answer: The author took a bus to work once and realised that he had forgotten his wallet. He informed the bus driver that he was unable to pay. Because he needed the cash, he considered making a return trip. The conductor surprised him by saying he didn’t have to return to the station to get his fare. Without asking for payment, he handed the writer a ticket. The author inquired of the driver about where the fare should be remitted. The driver assured the author that they would cross paths again. The bill was paid when he eventually located a shilling in his pocket. The author was even more impressed by the conductor’s demeanour when he trawled on the writer’s toe mistakenly but quickly apologised for the same.
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