For the past five to seven years, North Philadelphia and Center City has been going through both dramatic and astonishing transformations. North Philadelphia is transitioning (itself) from an area of abandoned housing, overwhelming impoverished communities, and pollution, to an area of luxurious condominiums, communities revived by small business growth, and an area that prides itself on purification and beauty. Center City has become more and more like Manhattan, minus the overwhelming traffic and over crowded city streets. While one area blooms and blossoms, another continues to grow and attract new residents for its much desired “love for the arts”, luxurious living space, and wonderful new and exciting career opportunities. It is this remarkable change in scenery and lifestyle that brings forth a new day for the many of the area’s college grads that lives on the border between both areas. As they are enjoying the very best that city life has to offer, they are no longer just simply young adults trying to find themselves and start a (new) career, rather they are now becoming the face of the city, the young up and coming professional with promise (i.e. YUPPIE). The former city/slum dweller of the North Philadelphia housing projects (between Girard Ave., Fairmount Ave., and Center City) has now become “Mr./Mrs. Sophisticated-Urban Lifestyle Resident” as new condominiums replace old structures/abandoned lots for public housing. Yet, with all of the renaming of North Philadelphia and Center City areas, along with all the new construction and remodeling, there are still quite a few characteristics, behaviors, and attitudes that have not changed within our new age/era of urban culture and lifestyle. Most of these things could be a hinderance as the ”City of Brotherly Love” tries to create a new identity for itself. While many of our visual and physical improvements revitalize much of the city’s appearance, the character, behaviors, and attitudes which defines/reflects the truth about our intentions, actions, consciousness, integrity, respect and “distinguishable finer qualities” lies exposed for the rest of the city’s critics and naysayers within our region, our nation, to (further) depict our efforts as worthless, useless, and a pathetic attempt to be anything other than the ”Hideous Hoodrats of Filth-A-delphia”.
The reasons behind such claims stem from a very long history that some residents of the city relish and enjoy with great pride. Our city has been known to have some of the worst sports fans for the teams that represent them, as well as for the opposition. We have also seen research continue to support that Philadelphia remains one of the most obese cities across the nation (i.e. within the top 5 for years). However, these aren’t the only reasons for why I call for the return of simple acts of etiquette, class, and mannerisms. My reasoning comes from my most recent encounters of disgusting habits that have not only become accepted, but also a normal practice within the city that seems to be gaining ground. This past winter, while taking my son out for an evening walk, I came face to face with a reality that was once a rumor, that over time became a normal practice within some of the more cleaner, exclusive environments of upscale living and shopping. While walking around Rittenhouse Square, my son and I needed to use the restroom, so naturally I took him to a place that I thought would be a very clean and comfortable environment. And, what I experienced was proof that I was not the only one who thought so. I took him to the restrooms within the Shops at Liberty Place.
As we proceeded to enter the restroom, I started to get him ready to use the facilities as he needed to remove his winter hat and coat. I also started to get things ready if I needed to change his clothes in case of an accident (as he was still in the early stages of potty training). The bathroom was empty except for one stall… the last stall. The stall for those with disabilities. This was the one that I’d usually prefer to use with/for my son since it was so accommodating due to its size and/or space. As we waited for the man to leave out of the stall, I noticed that he stopped moving. We waited patiently as I could only assume that he was preparing himself to leave and gathered his things. A minute of waiting slowly became two, then three minutes. Then, I noticed something. The man moved to the edge of the stall between the door hinges and the wall. He peeked down the hall. That was extremely odd. My son growing impatient and frustrated forced me to rethink this and move on. Safety became a concern, if not a serious issue. Mall security came in to do their routine inspection before mall closing. The man was still inside the stall. I thought if there was a problem, he’d quickly solve it. I thought he’d make an announcement about the mall closing in five minutes, but he didn’t. He walked down checking each stall. I decided this was my time to use the facilities and quickly leave. My son made it very easy for us to use (this time). No fuss, no problems. I put his hat and jacket back on, all of his other belongings together, washed our hands, and zipped/buttoned up our coats preparing to leave. By this time mall security was off inspecting the rest of the mall. Before we left, I looked down towards the stall where the man was. No eyes where peeking to see who was still in the restroom with him. Instead, there where now two sets of shoes. One pair of sneakers, another pair of purple and pink rain boots. We left out and saw mall security performing a second inspection of the restrooms. The male and female teen came out, but he never saw them actually leaving out of the men’s room together. The verbal onslaught was postponed, shot down as my son was anxious to leave due to the long and uncomfortable situation. They quickly bolted as I couldn’t react fast enough to get the mall security officer’s attention while contemplating my son’s safety.
Our second and third encounter of disgusting habits and practices happened inside the new Comcast Center skyscraper. We where out with family looking for lunch one day when someone mentioned that they needed to use the restroom. Close by was the Comcast Center. They have a food court, and where there is a food court there are restrooms. I decided that this would be a good time to take my son also since he did not go before we left the playground before going to get lunch. As we entered I noticed a man leaving the urinal with his cell phone pinned between his angled neck, ear, and shoulder. He walked out. No hand washing, no hand sanitizer. Behind us came a man in the same position with his cell phone approaching the urinal. As I went looking for the stall that I much prefered using, I noticed it was occupied. So was the one next to it. The waiting game again. This time was simpler as one man left out from the stall and proceeded to wash his hands, then change into his work uniform shirt. I took care of my son, proceeded to wash his hands, and left out. I entered the hall way meeting family at the other end. I then decided I should have used the restroom before leaving. I left my son with family and went back. The restroom had only one available space. One stall next to a man who was already occupying it before my son and I arrived. I went into the stall. The man in the stall beside me was having a conversation on his phone about legal troubles of a family member who seemed to be on the run with a mile long record of unpaid child support payments. The conversation then turned to an intense discussion about his own child support payments soon to be past due. The person on the other end of his intense discussion sounding much like a “Babby Mah-Vuh” knowing much of his family’s history, and frustrated with their agreement/arrangement for child support. I left out of the stall, washed my hands, and left the restroom shaking my head.
Perhaps the most alarming incident of all was when I saw a teen entering the restroom with a mammoth size hoagie (i.e. sub) holding it, devouring it, with both hands as he went into a stall. Yes, he entered into the stall eating a sandwich. I’m not sure how the young man’s digestive system worked, but I can imagine that it was put under enormous amounts of stress while trying to satisfy one’s hunger and answer the call of nature (at the same time).
It is extremely unfortunate and surprising to find such an absence of etiquette, class, and manners in the restroom. What is even worse is the fact that many of these individuals see nothing wrong with these actions. All of them well of age, and of sound mind and body… I think. If they have no sense that something his terribly wrong with such acts, imagine how comfortable they feel within the privacy of their own homes? Also, what type of etiquette, class, and mannerisms do they display (or not display) when they are with their family, friends, spouse, intimate partner(s), etc.? Moreover, these things are present in one of the most established, wealthiest, and distinguishable areas in all of Philadelphia. Many years ago that once meant something. Many of these individuals appear to be unaware or unconconscious (i.e. unawake) walking through the motions of everyday life as though they are sleepwalking. With the exception of the teens involved in such disgusting acts, almost all of the men were individuals that were business professionals that work either in the Comcast Tower, or in neighboring office buildings. They are constantly in contact with others within their offices, conference rooms, Starbucks Cafe, restaurants, public transportation areas, etc. To imagine greeting and then shaking hands with an individual who is supposed to be amongst the best of those who have class, etiquette, and manners (all of which is determined by the perception that his wealth and status should/would indicate) does not wash his hands is indeed frightening. I feel bad for those that work and live with such men. I especially feel bad for the women that they are involved with. A man who stands at a urinal to answer the call of nature, while probably sprinkling and/or splattering urine on his own pants and underwear, does not wash his hands afterwards, wants to touch/play with a woman’s hair, skin, face, hands, etc.? Can you imagine such a thing? A man who does these things wants to then touch his smart phone, wallet, charge/credit card, cash, steering wheel, door knob to his front door, keyboard to his laptop, refrigerator door, food, utensils, play with his children, etc.?
This is truly sad, unfortunate, and humiliating to see how far we have gotten away from the basic acts and practice of simple hygiene, along with proper etiquette and mannerisms in public and private. Worst of all, these things are absent from amongst the best/most educated of men in our society. So, what does this mean/say for those that are amongst the worse of those that are uneducated within our society?
Beware of the unaware, “unawake”, “The Sleepwalkers”.