Acceptable behavior a forgotten lesson

During my 20 years of teaching, I talked often with my students about “acceptable behavior” — what was expected of them in my classes, in the school setting, and often life in general.

For most of them, it wasn’t a new concept; they’d been exposed to similar talks at home, in church, scouts and other such places. Most knew how to behave in a public setting and did so.

Unfortunately, that information just doesn’t stick with some folks.

Thanks to the local TV stations, YouTube, Facebook, and seemingly the entire World Wide Web, the incident at that Beech Grove superstore has given us a very good example of unacceptable behavior.

It was shoved in our faces repeatedly.

The fight was bad enough. Involving the little kid made it worse. Then, to top it off, the investigating police officer was herself arrested for drunken driving a few days later. I can only imagine the fun the defense attorneys might have with that.

A short while back, my wife and I went to a movie. It was a matinee showing of a comedy. It didn’t star anyone that would likely attract a young audience, so it was no surprise the folks around us were close to our ages. I’m guessing the youngest audience members were in their 30s. Most were older, like us.

Two of the patrons seemed convinced they were the only people in the room, constantly talking out loud, laughing and carrying on like a couple of little girls who hadn’t a care in the world.

In reality, I’m guessing they were closer to 50 than any other age. There was something very entertaining on a smartphone. No amount of shushing from various audience members got through to them. Fortunately, the movie became loud enough to drown them out.

Now, obviously, these ladies were old enough to know better. Just as obvious? They didn’t care. Their lack of respect of the others around them was blatant and left us dumbfounded.

I suppose I could have sought out an usher, but you and I know by the time he or she would have stepped into the theater, these two ladies would have been the most well-behaved folks in the room.

Movie theaters are having a tough time of it as it is. There are dozens of entertainment options in our own homes, on our computers and even our phones, that draw the moviegoers away. I would certainly hate to see indoor theaters go the same way as the drive-in movies with their behemoth screens.

Patrons like the two we experienced make the decision to go to the movies a tough one. We don’t want to voluntarily spend our money to go somewhere that we know that acceptable behavior will not be practiced. It’s sad for the theaters, because it isn’t really their fault.

Good examples of good behavior are getting pretty rare these days.

How many times do you see someone, who is not hampered by a physical disability, zip into a handicap parking spot, jump out with kids in tow for a quick trip to the store? It is imprinted on the young ones that whatever the parents do is acceptable.

We also see it at athletics events where parents know the sport better than the coaches and the referees.

It wasn’t but a couple of weeks ago a mother of a young athlete bragged to me how she was thrown out of a game for yelling at a ref. It was like a badge of honor. I can’t wait to hear how she feels when her daughter follows her example one of these days.

I’d like to wrap this column up with a well thought-out list of actions and solutions that would create a universal cure for unacceptable behavior. Sadly, I don’t have one. The only thing I can do is try to set a good example myself and avoid these situations as best possible.

I long for the good old days when just about everyone had respect for the person next to them.

Never mind me. I’m just grumpy.

Tim Renshaw formerly taught broadcasting at Greenfield-Central High School. He lives in New Palestine and can be reached at