Monday, September 29, 2008

Basic good manners around politics and email

Wow, never thought I'd say this, but today, I agree with Roger Ebert. He's got a nice little bit on his blog today of what constitutes good manners. To Ebert's entry, I say, "two thumbs up!"

And while we're talking about manners and politics this election season...

A lot of letters have been popping up in the advice columns, carping (rightfully) about getting politically-tainted emails from a friend or loved one. Said emails usually bash the recipients preferred candidate, or glamorize the sender's preferred candidate.

A note from the Etiquette Bitch: I realize you love your candidate, but please, please, please -- I plead to both parties--don't send such missives. Whether it's your opinion in an email, or a link to a Rolling Stone story about Palin's lies, or the latest digs on politico, just don't do it. Here's why:

1. your vitriol is unlikely to sway the recipient into voting for your candidate
2. the email will not change his or her mind
3. the emails are usually unwelcome (ergo, slightly rude)
4. it's an unproductive use of your energy

If you really care about your candidate, go volunteer for a few hours, write letters to your representatives about the change you want to see, or do something immediate that will have a positive impact in your world: spend time with your kids, clean up your lawn, plant a garden. Sing a song, buy the Flight of the Conchords CD, or go work out at the gym.

While I love, love, love our right (a right that needs to be protected) to free speech, I can't see the benefit of sending a one-sided missive that causes bad feelings between friends and family. Yes, I want you to express your opinion in an open, respectful forum, but one-way bombardment tends to ruffle the feathers. And usually has zero effect.

How about some two-way dialogue?
For an example, see here.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Going to a show

Special shout out to Judy who sent me this very cool article from the Sept. 7 Star-Tribune.

Are you going to attend a show, movie, or concert within the next millennium? Then you must read this. Yes, you.

A Withering Glance guide to etiquette for concertgoers and theater patrons. That means you.


Laugh, snort or clap three times louder than anyone else in the audience. We get it: You like it. Now calm down.


Take 15 minutes to select an outfit other than what you wear to mow the lawn. You are joining others for an evening at the theater or concert hall. No need to go all Cary Grant in "To Catch a Thief," but neither do we want to see your

Vikings T-shirt, cargo shorts and flip-flops. Do you really need that fanny pack at the Guthrie?


Take three minutes to "quietly" unwrap the crinkliest throat lozenge since the invention of the Life Saver. Just rip it open and be done with it.


Learn how to silence your cell phone if it should accidentally ring during a performance. Most phones have an exterior button which, if hit once, turns off the ringer. So why do so many phones seem to ring four or five times before their owners discover this feature?

Read full article here. Ignore all the comments, except the ones that say, "this article is perfect." Enjoy! And mind your manners.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wedding RSVPs for the Guests - If you say "yes," show the eff up.

This weekend I was torn -- do I go to the out-of-state wedding I RSVP'ed to two years ago, or do I stay home and deal with my leaky roof (courtesy of Ike)?

Well, I sucked it up and went to the wedding. It was my past experience, and love of good graces, that propelled me to attend.

When you respond "yes," to a wedding invitation, barring death or disease, the only right and good thing to to is to attend. The bride and groom, or their family(ies) have laid out money and paid handsomely for your food and liquor up front. If you don't show, well, yeah, they're stuck with extra food that they won't ever see, but more importantly, it's rude.

If something super major does prevent you from attending, for Pete's sake, call the bride or groom, or a friend who can get the message through, and apologize profusely, and explain what is keeping you from celebrating their joy. And then follow up with a hand written apologetic note (not an email), preferably in the form of a nice card or wedding card, and include a cash gift. It's the right thing to do.

Do not do what (yet another) one of my rude guests did: A young man named "Kyle" was invited to our shindig. He responded that, yes, he and his SO would be attending. Great! As the cocktail hour drew to a close, no sign of Kyle and his SO; their place card sat untouched. No phone messages came in from Kyle; we worried that perhaps he'd had an accident, or perhaps crossed paths with the aforementioned death and disease.

Days after the reception, still no word from our acquaintance. My spouse emailed the young man to make sure everything was all right. His reply came back, "We went to the mall, spent the whole day shopping and had so much fun! We were just too tired to drive to your reception."

That was it. No "I'm sorry," no "oops" -- nothing. Not even a card -- empty or filled with cash.

Notice I called this guy an "acquaintance" -- he surely is no longer our friend.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Happy Birthday Miss Manners!

I love it, I love it, I love it.

WFMT (98.7 FM) has an etiquette theme as their question of the week. They ask, "What is the rudest thing you've witnessed during a concert?"

They're doing this in honor of Miss Manners' 70th birthday. Miss Manners is a great part of my inspiration, although something tells me she would do her darnedest to distance herself from a self-proclaimed bitch.

Check out Miss Manners' "Things to Avoid at A Concert." A great list, although I must point out the syntactical error -- I think it should read, "Things to Avoid Doing at a Concert.",1

Enjoy, and send in your responses! Happy Birthday, Judith Martin! We love you!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Talking on Your Cell public

You don't need to make cell phone calls when you're at the bank, on the el, in the grocery store, at Borders, at Barnes & Noble, the gym, driving your car, etc.

And, should you subject the rest of the world to your cell phone conversations, KEEP YOUR VOICE DOWN.

Just because we can talk anywhere, anytime, doesn't mean we should. Unfortunately, most of the world doesn't get this.

If I hear you yapping at Borders about how you've just "stopped doing the comedy stuff, and now I'm here picking this stuff up for Sarah, yeah, she was offered two teaching positions, one at the Latin School, and one at that other school that was S-O-L" you betcha I'm going to chime in with my two cents and add to your conversation.

Ditto if you're yapping loudly at Barnes and Noble about your latest business deal.

Both offenders were young white males, late 20s -early 30s. Listen Generation Y, the world does not revolve around you, and we don't give a flying fuck about what job Sarah got or how the offer they made you was over the top.

Shut the fuck up. Keep your voice down when you're cell-yapping in public, or -- here's a lovely idea-- don't come into the store at all.

Unless it's urgent, when you get a phone call when you're out and about, tell the caller, softly, "I'm in the store, can I call you back?"

And then do so.

The world thanks you.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ravinia fist fight over rudeness

Okay, finally, some comic relief from that boring wet noodle from Alaska:

Ravinia Festival turf war, food fight hospitalizes Arlington Heights man, cops say

A dispute over lawn space erupted into a turf war that sent one man to the hospital before a sold-out Donna Summer concert Saturday at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, police said.

After setting up their blankets, chairs and a tarp, a group of concertgoers from Arlington Heights left for a restaurant. Returning an hour later, they found their belongings displaced by a Chicago group, which they confronted.

A woman in the Chicago group tried to attack a woman from the returning group, police said. A 40-year-old Chicago man then punched a 49-year-old Arlington Heights man, prompting a wine-and-cheese splattering melee, police said.

The Arlington Heights man was taken by ambulance to Highland Park Hospital, where he received 15 stitches, while the Chicago man was charged with battery.

I have to agree with many of the Trib's comment-posters; to "set up shop" at a festival and leave is rude. "Move your meat, lose your seat" as one poster put it. Yes, I know in a perfect world we can claim a front-row seat at the Free Andrew Bird concert or any outdoor fest; dine at a 4-star restaurant and then return to find our seat unscathed. Sadly, this is not the reality. Either bring your dinner with you, or wait until your later arrival time to claim your seat.

Personally, I'm snickering a little that a fight broke out at Ravinia. I've wanted to pop the cell-phone yakkers there myself.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Good Manners on the CTA

I get asked all the time to post about the rude-asses who ride public transport, and, believe me, one day they'll get their verbal lashing here.

Today, though, I want to point out some good manners I witnessed last night on the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority, for the non-Chicagoans).

Around 10-10:30 pm my date and I crammed onto the super-crowded 151 bus heading north.

A gentleman in a white polo, carrying a "Classic Cars" magazine offered me his seat, and I gladly accepted. I thanked him twice. So mad props to that kind stranger.

Most of you CTA riders could take a tip from that kind man.