“No one’s taught to relax and take your time anymore, so it’s not a priority to be courteous, say ‘thank you,’ say ‘please,”‘ he said. “It comes from impatience – slow down, take a deep breath, get some perspective.” A change coming? Kaufman said he saw it among his 9-year-old son’s friends, though perhaps a change is coming, he said, noting that they’d just received an invitation to an old-fashioned cotillion. But then again, he admitted, they’d been too busy to accept. “Yes, people are ruder,” said John Vowels of Granada Hills, who retired as the city of Los Angeles’ chief lifeguard and still sees thousands of people a day at Pierce College, where he supervises pool activities – and observes some remarkable forms of rudeness. “There’s such a clouded line between right and wrong,” Vowels said. “There’s no longer respect for parents and institutions. If you’re a jerk at home, you’re going to be a jerk in public.” There was, for example, the woman who insisted on bringing her little dog into the pool area while she watched her child – engaged in a game of water polo between two Catholic high schools – despite prominent signs saying animals were prohibited. When asked to leave, she responded, “You’re being rude,” Vowels said. Michael Gross, research manager for the poll of 1,001 adults across the country Aug. 22-23, said respondents didn’t even need a definition of rudeness before answering. Parking battles For most, aggressive drivers have become an annoying staple of life, with fully 91 percent saying they had experienced such obnoxious drivers either frequently or occasionally. Cell phones have only made it more maddening. So often has Sam Garcia, 17, of Northridge, a student at Pierce College, been “flipped off” or had to do battle over a parking spot that he’s become a bit jaded. “I’ve gotten used to it,” he said. But students in a Pierce philosophy class Friday afternoon bemoaned the rise in boorish behavior. It starts with preteens who think nothing of busting through their cell-phone minutes, said Souhaina Ghayadi, a 40-year-old student from Iran now living in West Hills. “Yeah, someone will be on their cell phone in the grocery line and you don’t want to hear what they’re saying, but the people in aisle five can hear,” said Linette Pakroo, 20, of Northridge. Eighty-five percent of those polled said they frequently or occasionally encounter people using their cell phones in a loud or annoying manner in public. That annoyance tied in the poll with two other behaviors: children acting rudely in public and rude behavior on television and in the movies. Ranking fifth in rude behavior was people using rude or offensive language in public, something 82 percent of respondents reported regularly encountering. And 69 percent of those polled said salespeople often ignore customers or treat them rudely. Selfishness As the Pierce College students grappled Friday with their treatment of one another, their professor, Nicholas Habib of Chatsworth, suggested that rudeness is similar to selfishness. “Rudeness involves serving one’s self-interest without concern for the interest of others,” he suggested. “It’s not being willing to give a little. A parking space is not a world war.” And about 93 percent of those polled placed most of the blame for the growing loutishness squarely on parents not teaching their children good manners. The culture of rudeness has crept into even the most wholesome areas, such as Little League Baseball. In the past 10 years, Mid-Valley Youth Baseball has come up with an increasingly strict code of conduct that dictates no swearing, no jeering, no slamming of gloves or bats – and not just for the kids. “We’ll tell coaches, you’d better get your parents in line,” said Hank Barkley, the league’s vice president of baseball. “People are under a lot of stress, so it carries into their sports activities. It’s a problem, as far as being a good role model for their kids. No matter what you tell them, they’ll learn from what you do.” At least those parents are around to set some sort of an example. Ethel Josephson, a West Hills retiree, blamed the coarsening society on kids who get their values from watching television instead of their parents. MTV, in particular, earned her wrath for fostering bad manners. “A lot of that music is disgusting,” she said, detailing several indelicate synonyms for women she’d heard and found particularly unctuous. “Now these words are acceptable. It’s the parents. They’re not teaching them, so they get it all on TV. That’s where they learn to swear.” Edik Karapetyan blamed the economy. What with all the worries about money, gasoline prices near $3 a gallon and rents through the roof, the 25-year-old traffic school instructor said people are too stressed to worry about politeness. “They get rude, they get feisty,” the Glendale resident said. “I saw my parents’ generation: Everyone was nice, calm. Not this one. They don’t care anymore.” At Casey’s Tavern, a rare outpost of good manners in Canoga Park, patrons know better than to let four-letter words slip into their conversations. Lee Casey, the late proprietor of the bar, never wanted to be embarrassed in front of his mother or wife, so he posted a sign instructing drinkers to keep their conversations clean – and to say, ‘Thank you, sir’ when their beverages arrive. “Here, you behave or you go,” said John Pugh, a bartender in the darkened joint. “Mr. Casey taught these kids manners, that’s for sure. We’re old school here.” Beth Barrett, (818) 713-3731 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week “It’s like, ‘I have a right to say what I think. If that’s rude, too bad.’ But I get offended if someone else does,” said Dee Shepherd-Look, a licensed clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at California State University, Northridge. “It’s very common for people not to see their own behavior as problematic now,” she said, attributing it, at least in part, to a culture of entitlement in which parents spoil their kids and don’t teach them accountability and manners. If manners are an increasingly endangered commodity, it’s also partly because self-interest, high-tech gadgetry and a fast-paced lifestyle increasingly are placed ahead of respect for the feelings of others, according to the poll and interviews conducted by the Daily News. And then there are the clogged freeways, fortress-like walls around homes, and the fact that hardly anyone knows his or her neighbors anymore. Sandy H. Kaufman, a marriage and family therapist in Studio City, said that, in our time-crazed society, people care only about rushing to keep up with their own lives, not reflecting on what might be best for the community. “You’re ruder … and maybe I am, too.” That’s what harried and stressed-out Americans are saying in a new national poll on changing social (or in this case anti-social) behavior. From horn-honking road ragers who turn daily commutes into gantlets to cell-phone abusers who transform tranquil coffee shops into noisy forums for their sex lives, nearly 70 percent of Americans say we are ruder than we were 20 years ago, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll. But people see a far fairer picture when looking at themselves in the mirror: Just 8 percent cop to using our cell phones in an annoying manner in public and 13 percent admit making rude gestures at other drivers.