Monday, August 9, 2010

Until we meet again

Well hi there, my amazing readers and listeners.

Today is the last Etiquette Bitch blog post. I have grappled with this for weeks, tried to think of a story to tell (via podcast), tried to think of something funny and touching to say, and the mind just drew a blank.

It's time for me to mosey on. I've loved writing this blog, and even more, I've loved creating the podcasts. I appreciate the feedback and nice words I've recevied from all of you, whether in person at PAB, in the comments, in your emails to me or via your follows -- thank you. Seriously, it has made my day and warmed my heart to know you were listening and/or reading.

I've run out of steam and love for this Etiquette stuff. Like my twitter buddy shoutabyss said, "Based on what I see in the world around me I feel etiquette is a lost cause and a lost art. Sad."

Unfortunately, I had to agree. No matter how many blog posts and podcasts I do, there will still be that cell-phone-talking soccer mom who cuts you off in the parking lot; idiots will still yell at Tony Bennett as he performs; the tween before you at the movies will still talk on her cell phone and hold up the line.

There is something next up for me; it will involve a podcast, for sure. Please stay tuned. Please check back and I'll let you know where I end up. Etiquette Bitch will, indeed, create something new.

And before I end this blog, I just want to say, again, a hearty Thank You to you who read and/or listen. You've made the last three years worthwhile.

Now go enjoy the rest of summer.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Etiquette for public transportation

If you take public transportation (ever!) this is for you. This is just awesome.
Artist Jay Shells got tired of loud-music-blasters, disgusting food eaters, nail-clippers, and proselytizers on the he did something.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Click here: 5 Dos and Don'ts When Someone Dies

Ah, so many questions after someone passes away.

Is it okay to give money at a wake or funeral? Do I send flowers? Can I just mingle at a wake? Am I supposed to? What should I say to the grieving relatives? Is it okay to ask how someone died? I can wear my ratty gymshoes to the wake, right?

Click the title to find out. It'll cost you 10 m. of your time, about 13 if you listen to the music, too.

Song: Burial, Miike Snow

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Click here: Wedding Etiquette -- Those damn bachelorette parties!

Hey folks: It's wedding season, and this is the perfect post for you bachelorettes out there. Today I'm turning the blog over to reader CS 'cause I couldn'ta said it better myself.

My take? Click the title above to hear my thoughts on the bachelorette-parties-at-gay-bars issue. Running time:
6 m 17 s

As a gay man who has had to endure countless bachelorette parties at my local watering hole, I would like to add some advice:

It is incredibly insensitive to celebrate your marriage with a few hundred men who are not allowed to get married. So, in short: don't do it.

If you must, here are some bachelorette-party-at-gay-bar rules:

  1. Don't insist that gay men dance with you and then get upset when we refuse. If we wanted to dance with drunk women, we would go to a straight bar.

  2. Don't insist that gay men kiss you and then get upset when we refuse. If we wanted to kiss drunk women, we would go to a straight bar.

  3. Don't order time-consuming (and confusing) drinks and then leave a crappy tip. That is just rude! Similarly, don't order said drink and then stand in the service area and enjoy it. It is bad enough there's a long line behind you; you're now preventing the rest of us from ordering our beer.

  4. Don't assume that because we're gay we find your penis hat/necklace/jewelry/whatever "cute" and want to put our lips on it.

  5. If there are strippers or go-go dancers at the gay bar, don't try to dance with them and keep others away from the "goods."


Thanks, CS. Ladies, stay away from the gay bars. Trust me, it ain't your scene. (Yes, I realize you're keeping hubby secure by partying in a roomful of gay men all night. But it's still rude. Take a cue from The Hip Hop Hippie, and go watch some men dance for your pleasure instead. I'm married, and I'm hitting up Hollywood Men on my next LA trip. So you and your drunk friends can do similarly.)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Click here: Sometimes, we don't need to "Smile!"

You know those annoying people who tell you, "C'mon, it's not that bad, SMILE!" when you're having a crap day? Yeah, this is about them.

You never know what's going on with someone. Yes, in a perfect world, we'd all have positive, upbeat attitudes, no one would ever get cranky, and we'd all get along, hold hands, and sing "Kumbaya." But that's not reality.

So rather than telling someone how to look, how about you smile, and leave the other person alone?

Click the title to listen. Running time: 6 m 20 s.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Click here: The crappiest podcast ever

Well, at least I only waste 4.30 m. of your time.

EB isn't sure if she should carry on...but she had an amazing time at PAB2010. She'll be back for 2011.

Amazing people mentioned in this podcast: Tod Maffin (although he'll be dismayed that she didn't take his advice too well.)

Click the title to listen. 4 m 15 s.

I don't need to smell you

Sigh. If only this sign were posted everywhere, not just at The National Arts Centre in Ottawa.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Etiquette Podcast: What do you say to the double-sipper?

Hey Etiquette Bitch:

This has happened three times this week, so I need to know how to react.

At three different food establishments where they have a self-serve soda machine I have had the person next to me slightly fill their cup, take a drink, then fill it with more soda, take a sip again, fill it again, sip- you get the picture.

I don't care about tasting the soda. What I do care about is they're mouth touches the rim of the cup, then touches the soda release lever.

Is it rude to point this out to them? Should I say nothing to them but tell management they need to disinfect the soda dispenser? Maybe hand them a straw? I bit my tongue three times, but I think I reached my limit. Also, I'm not a sanitizer-obsessed freak. This is just really unhygienic.

--Icked Out Alley

If this were a Seinfeld episode, the perpetrator you describe would be called a "double sipper." What should you say or do? Click the title to find out.

Verbiage Warning: Swearing, yes. C-word? Yes.
Running time: 9 m 45 s

I'm thinking, boycott establishments with soda fountain #2.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A simple "thanks" for holding the door

Hey Etiquette Bitch,

I always make a point of holding the door for the person behind me on
entering or leaving a building, as long as they are close behind. If they are too far behind, then holding the door for them may cause them to walk faster, which defeats the purpose of the good mannered behaviour. Almost everyone says "Thank you," and I reply very (maybe too) quietly, "you're welcome."

This happened today at the bank, but the gentleman behind me gave a loud and clear, "Thank you very much sir"- more than the sufficient "thank you" or just, "thanks." He did it again for the second set of doors, only 4 feet behind. I felt a little uncomfortable- his overly polite
thank-you made me feel I had to give him back more than my quiet 'welcome', but I didn't want to overdo it to the degree he had, although I was appreciative of his good manners.

I think we all should be considerate of the person behind, and I get very annoyed if the person in front never even looks and just lets the door close in my face. Is there some sort of rule here, or guideline, on doors and thank yous?


Hey SD:


  1. It's nice to hold the door for the person behind you.
  2. But you don't need to if they are too far behind.
  3. When someone does this for you, say "thanks."

In general, if someone is rightbehindyou and you refuse to hold the door open (or at least give it a good shove for them), this is rude.

As for your bank buddy, he was either: 1) shocked by such graciousness, 2) a little bit touched, 3) genuinely effusive, or, 4) a tad sarcastic. Either way, you did the nice, polite thing, and I'd take his reaction as more of a reflection on him, not you.

And good for you for not raising your voice, either. One never knows how the other party will react in these situations.

Kudos on your good manners.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I call fake on Miss Manners

So, some modern etiquette questions abound around the possibility of receiving a penis cake.

I call fake. See what you think:


DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband is putting on a birthday party for me. I will be turning 57.

His sister has taken up the art of hand-sculpting huge birthday cakes. She has been mastering the art of making huge, 3-foot penises. She recently presented one to her mother-in-law for her birthday. Continue reading....

Monday, May 31, 2010

Etiquette Podcast: Have a Little Respect When Traveling

Just because you're at a hotel doesn't mean you get to act like a hillbilly. Ditto on airplanes. Be a little respectful when you travel. Realize that your voice carries, people need to sleep, and, no, you don't need to grab every fucking seat on the airplane as you walk the aisle.

Click the title to listen.
Running time: ~ 7 m.

Cool blog mentioned today: The Hip Hop Hippie

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Etiquette Podcast: Leave the preggos alone. Really.

Yes, I know a baby is a joyous occasion and blah blah blah. But consider that some stranger, especially a stranger who's about to pop out a kid, doesn't necessarily want to hear your comments, your praise, or your unsolicited advice.

Click the title to listen. Running time: 7 m 25 s.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Click here: No "reserving" a chair with all your crap

Notice how there are two empty chairs flanking this studious young man. Apparently, everyone in this bookstore has good manners. Or the bookstore is empty. I dunno. I didn't take the photo.

Apply the "two minute or less" rule when deciding to "reserve" a chair in a public place. Click the post title to listen.

Running time: 4 m 20 s.

Read the original letter that inspired this post. I'm with you, friend!

Got an etiquette beef of your own? Do share. Email me at etiquetteb[at]gmail[dot]com.

Wanna hear me talk in person? Join me in Ottawa at Podcasters Across Borders -- PAB2010. No bitching, just good education!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Urging acts of kindness during the not-so-fun times

Ever notice how people -- people everywhere -- are quick to acknowledge and celebrate the good, fun, happy times? But the minute something not-so-fun, something serious, something a little scary shows up -- everyone's mum and all of a sudden they've got work to do?

Yeah, I've seen it a ton. And it pisses me off.

I'm thinking about office environments, but this extends to social circles as well.

Everywhere I've worked -- offices, restaurants, swimming pools -- everyone jumps up to celebrate the good times: birthdays, pregnancies, new jobs, marriages. Cake, cards, and parties abound.

But the minute someone has a health problem? Or goes on medical leave? Or has a death in the family? It's like, "Who? Suzie? Does she even work here?"

I'm sure many of you have workplaces where everyone's like family, they bought you flowers when you were in the hospital, yadda yadda. (If so, PLEASE tell me about it in the comments or email me. I wanna know.)

So far (I'm lucky) I've only had to deal with the death of a loved one twice in my life.

Both times the response from my workplace-at-the-time was, "When are you coming back?"

Not one sympathy card. Not one "I'm sorry." No one came to the wake, either time. And that shit sucks.

I'm thinking of this now because lately Dear Amy has had a rash of, "I was out with major surgery and not one person from work asked how I was or sent a card" letters.

And I'm so with them. I am of the belief that work buddies are just that -- work buddies. Not that you can't make friends, perhaps even good, true friends, at work. I've seen it happen. Just not to me or anyone I'm close to.

Whether you love your co-workers or not, 40 hours a week is a lot to spend with someone. Work is very important to most people. Some people are so defined by it that any little shake up at work shakes up their whole world.

So if you've got a co worker who was seriously ill (not the flu, I mean hospitalized), had surgery, just experienced a death in the family, any thing kinda sucky -- buy them a damn 99 cent card, get the office to sign it, and toss it on his/her desk. Sincere or not, the gesture will be appreciated.

Of course, you could always sing your co-worker a song:

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

For as much as I bitch about having to suffer other people's photos, especially the TMI photos of unborn children, one thing I know for sure: Being a Mother is the hardest fucking job in the world.

So, Moms out there: cheers to you. I hope to eff you get some "you" time today. And, if not, sneak off tomorrow for a drink or dessert by yourself like Frankie did on "The Middle" last week.

And I also want to give a tip of the hat to Betty White. Her hosting gig on SNL was faboo. Not only is she hilarious, but she understands the importance of good manners:

"I'm not going to call people on facebook losers, but that's just because I'm polite."

And I also loved her jab at fb overshare:
"In my day, having to look at pictures of people's vacations was considered punishment."

It still is, Betty. We're just too polite to say it -- on facebook.

Happy Mother's Day, y'all!!!

*Interesting little factoid: Although much was made of Betty White hosting SNL "just in time for Mother's Day!" Ms. White actually has no kids. Love it.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Click here: Some things are better kept private. Like your birthing photos.

Not everyone likes the same things. Imagine what a boring world it would be if everyone only liked baseball and hot dogs. Why, football and Alinea would never exist!

So we all have different tastes. Please be mindful of that and stop sharing every photo of your innards (sonograms) and outtards (vagina) with everyone via Facebook and at the office.

Your kid is amazing, really, s/he is. But know that not everyone can stomach seeing your cha-cha along with your child, age 2 seconds.

Click the post title to listen, and perhaps gain some perspective.

Oh, while we're on it - you wanna see my sonogram of my pre-cancerous cells? I didn't think so.


Hey, friends and faithful followers: Please listen to On The Log tomorrow for my interview with the witty and smart John Meadows.

Shout out to my buddy (and fellow Zooey Deschanel Non-Fan) Nachos at Midnight.

And send me your own tales of what pisses you off at etiquetteb [at] gmail [dot] com.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Click here: Leave my kids' photos off your damn facebook page. Please.

Just because technology means you can now share crap with Aunt Myrtle within minutes, doesn't mean you should.

Some people don't want their picture taken. Some people don't want you turning their kids into the next would-be victim on "To Catch a Predator."* So how 'bout respecting some other folks' requests?

Click the post title to listen. Running time: 5 m 30 s.

*"To Catch a Predator" went off the air after they cornered a guy who committed suicide rather than face NBC's cameras. Reruns, if my hotel room TV Guide channel is to be believed, still proliferate on MSNBC. So a more accurate reference would be "20/20" but I haven't watched that since 1984. To me, a more accurate title would be, "Scaring Old White People."

Monday, May 3, 2010

When the guest gets wasted (and pukes)

Hey Etiquette Bitch,

I’ve been absolutely beside myself about a situation that happened in my home a few days ago.

My husband’s nephew and his girlfriend (both supposedly responsible, 22-yr old university students) invited themselves to stay overnight as they were driving through our city. We made dinner, I set the formal dining room table for our family of 5 and our 2 guests. Apparently my husband was over-pouring the wine and I wasn’t paying enough attention, because after dinner the girlfriend proceeded to vomit all over my dining room table and brand new rug.

I was absolutely horrified!

She apologized, retreated to our guest room for the night, and we cleaned the mess up. (I’ll give the nephew some credit – he did help clean up). It was disgusting and I am still in a state of shock about it.

My question is, how does one properly respond to an apology for a totally egregious incident? I said “it’s alright”, but really, it is NOT alright! I feel like I want to burn my beautiful dining room table and new rug. And every time I serve dinner in my dining room in the future I will remember this incident. It’s like she has ruined my dining room which I put so much effort and expense into decorating 2 years ago. What would you have said?

Should try to follow up, or just try my best to forget it ever happened? The next morning she made a lame attempt at an excuse, saying she hadn’t been feeling well for a few days. I didn’t call her on it, but maybe I should have, because then they sat around drinking coffee and chatting for a few hours as if nothing had happened, so obviously my “it’s alright” response made her feel that I bought her excuse and everything was A-OK. (Personally, I would have been so ashamed of myself I would have written a profuse apology and bolted in the middle of the night.)

The nephew’s parents (my husband’s sister, with whom I do not get along with) have invited themselves to our house to stay next weekend. Should this be our dirty little secret or do we let them know what happened during their son’s recent visit? Yes, they are adults legally, and should be responsible for their own actions, but they are students living at home and I assume are still partially supported by their parents. If my 20-yr old son or his girlfriend did something like this I would certainly want to know about it so I could sit them down for a serious talk about unacceptable behavior, consequences and attempting to mitigate the damage.

Thank you in advance for your sage advice.


What do I tell S? Click the title to find out. Running time: 7 m 30 s.

Make it a drinking game: take a chug every time I say "mad props." :) (Yes, my hipness stopped around 1996.)

Got an etiquette dilemma of your own? Email me: etiquetteb [at] gmail [dot] com

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Happy May Day

It's May 1. Get outside and enjoy.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Who's my Target? Pharmacy.

Listen up, prescription-picker-uppers and pharmacy employees of the world: Ever hear of a little thing called privacy? Respect it, okay? The world does not need to hear that Grampa Jones is picking up Viagra.

Click "play" below (or click the title above) to listen. Running time: 5 m 6 s.

Have you ever had a nosy/intrusive pharmacy experience? Tell me in the comments.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Throw the party you can afford

Yeah, I know it's 2010 and things are fucking expensive. Too bad. Hosting a party? No, you can't charge people. I don't care if it's a bridal shower for your best friend Suzy. Asking for cash -- as a gift, a donation, or a cost-defrayment -- is super bad form. And y'know what else? It screams, "I'm classless!"

Click "play" below to listen. Running time: 5 m 33 s.

People, blogs, and podcasts mentioned in this tirade:

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wakes and Money; Concerts and Rudeness

Do I have to give money when I go to a wake or a funeral? (It's nice to.) Why do people even do that? (I'll tell you.) And what about when I go to a standing-room-only concert? Is it okay to bother everyone around me? (No, you jackass.)

Click "play" below to listen and learn. Running time: 5 m 51 s.

Friday, April 16, 2010

On being human, and shutting up

Two things to think about, and one announcement.

  1. Don't make others feel bad about their choices. This means keep your running commentary to yourself. It's okay to have an opinion; when you do it in a way that makes others feel bad, you're an ass.

    Example: An "artist" who hasn't picked up a paintbrush in 10 years attends an art opening. "Why are these people wasting their time? They should just give up," he says to a friend of the artists. Same guy goes to visit a friend with a new home in a "changing" neighborhood. "Why did you move? I liked your old neighborhood better."

    Any seasoned armchair psychologist will tell you this guy is just projecting his feelings about himself. Doesn't make his statements any less rude.

  2. Understand that others are human. The other side of etiquette is letting small slights slide. Notice I said "small." The jerk who cuts you off in traffic. The customer who snaps at you, unprovoked. The arrogant snootypants at the gym who swipes the three towels you were about to take.

    There's grace in letting these things go. We're human, we all have bad days, none of us are perfect. I've been an asshole in traffic, plenty. I've line-jumped in front of people I shouldn'ta. We all do. Especially when we're having a bad day. [WARNING: Sexist comment forthcoming:] Us ladies can be especially nasty, snippy, and unforgiving on some nasty hormonal days.

    Be a little kinder than you need to be today. Someone else will be nice to you on your shitty days.
Have a good weekend, folks. And be nice out there.

News: I'm speaking at Podcasters Across Borders 2010 in June! Check it out...podcasters and non-podcasters of all stripes are welcome. PAB 2010 promises to be fun, educational and inspirational. PAB is full of success stories.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bathroom Number 2: The Urinal

Guys: do you know what not to do when you use a urinal? Oh, no you don't.

Today's podcast features my friend Sanford who educates us on Four things you should never do in the men's room. How does he know? Personal experience.

Click "play" above to listen. Running time: 6 m 30 s.

Enjoy this educational video, courtesy of babelgum:

And just in case you missed it...Bathroom Number 1.

Friday, April 9, 2010

You can't play on my swingset...without permission

This week we re-visit gym etiquette (hint: wait your fucking turn) and using other people's property without permission (hint: fucking ask first).

Above is a damn-near replica of the swing set my friend caught strangers using. Strangers who, for whatever idiotic reason, thought they could use without permission.

Click below to listen. Running time: 7 m 30 s

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bitchin' about Easter weekend

Visiting a house of worship this weekend? Behave. Don't know how to behave? Ask someone. I'm especially talking to you, you C&Es. And if you do something unusual? Like breastfeed? Yeah, people are gonna stare. Get over it or go to the mother's room.

Click "play" above to listen.
Running time: ~ 4m 30s

Special shout out to The Hollywood Podcast. (Who always behaves.)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

10 Etiquette Tips For Today

Originally posted on

  1. Chew gum, loudly and with your mouth open, during all conversations.
  2. Leave your cell phone ringer turned on to its highest volume, and let the noise fly today! Even better if your ringtone is an obnoxious, tinny-sounding dowloaded song. Everyone loves a crappy-quality version of "Tipsy."
  3. Answer that call -- but only after you've thoroughly annoyed everyone within earshot by letting it go that long -- and speak loudly. Be sure to include ... continue reading

Bitchin' on Outside the Loop

Check it out: Available in perpetuity -- my interview with Mike Stephen @ Outside the Loop Radio.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Random Etiquette Lessons

  1. Apologize when you fuck up. Then make it good.

    I forgot to call my editor this week. It took me two days to realize it. I was at the gym, ready to hit my Hip Hop Fitness class, when it dawned on me: "I didn't call Tracy." Duh. I sent an apologetic and self-flagellating email. I haven't heard back from her. I'm a bad Etiquette Bitch.

  2. When online, stop behaving like second graders.

    I absolutely love snickering at the overshares and annoying FB posters on those popular sites that publicly humiliate the virtual-world blabbermouths and oversharers. What I don't love about a certain site, however, is that they are now offering to send an anonymous email, on your behalf, to your "friends" telling them that they are annoying.


    Think about it for a minute, geniuses: How would you feel if you got an anonymous note telling you something negative about yourself? EB says, if someone thinks so little of you to have a website send you an anonymous, insulting that person really your "friend?" I say, "unfriend."

  3. Second graders, part 2: curb those immature impulses in the real world, too.

    I was appalled -- but really, I guess not that surprised -- that in swapping What-Happened-When-I-Quit-My-Job stories with a colleague, we had the same appalling, no-way-would-this-fly-in-business-etiquette-class experience: We both gave our respective quitting notices to our small-business-owning bosses, who respectively proceeded to read us the riot act, tell us how "awful" we were and then show us the door.

    The irony/rub/chuckle in all of this? Both of us had a similar experience years later when the old boss wanted to be friends and reconnect.

    Lesson: No need to bad mouth anyone -- in any way -- at work. Trust me, it will bite you in the ass. My ex-boss? I've cost him a lot of business. I went on to work with bigger fish who asked about working with him. My answer was always, "Don't do it."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Be mindful with that big mouth, preggo.

Maybe it's all the pregnant bellies I see waddling my way at Target lately, but I've got pregnant women on the brain.

And I don't know which is more annoying -- a Bridezilla who won't shut up about her pending nuptials, or a Preggo who won't shut up about her pending child.

Yes, I know it's momentous, a gift, a blessing, everyone's supposed to want one, blah blah blah... but I think there's something that the yappers are overlooking.

You might be inadvertently offending someone. I'm not just talking about us soulless, demon-like people who -- gasp -- have no spawn of our own.

I'm talking about people who've tried and failed to conceive -- or tried and lost -- their own child.

I know more people who've lost potential children then actually have had them. Each parent who's experienced a loss has shared with me how painful it was to have to endure the coworker who posted fresh sonogram photos daily, or the bookclub buddy who spent all three book club hours talking about her kicks and tummy pains and gas.

This isn't like me bragging about my weekend in Europe and you've never gone to Europe. This is like me bragging about a real, massive, physical and emotional thing that means THE WORLD to you: "I've got one and you don't."

Know that when you're getting your big WORLD-sized thing, someone else -- within earshot -- might've lost theirs. They're grieving. And it's painful.

Dial it back a notch, please. Give it a rest once in awhile. Besides, your Eco-Bamboo-Organic-Green Baby Rocker, like your gas, isn't nearly as interesting as you think it is.

Image courtesy of WILPF.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Housing Crisis

It seems there's a rash of renters running around bragging about how glad they are that they didn't buy anything before this godawful swamp of housing crap showed up. Yeah? Shut the fuck up.

Lesson: Don't make others feel bad about their choices. That could be you one day, you know.

Click "play" above to hear about how a wine seller blatantly made me feel like shit.

Running time: 6 m 30 s.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

No talking on the toilet

"We all know people who take the toilet into the bathroom."

What I meant to say was, "...take their cell phones into the bathroom." I was a little spun up. It's been that kind of a day. Let's show some respect for those around us and not talk when it's time to pee.
Click "play" above to listen. Running time: 6 m 6 s.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Paying a friend

Hey Etiquette Bitch,

I'm staying at a friend's place for 1.5 weeks. She is in an apartment with a landlady. She's let me stay in her room for a few days, as she's not here for the entire time.

When I initially asked to stay at her place, I offered to help pay for rent. While we were talking, she mentioned how expensive her rent is and how she might need to move next year. I brought up my offer again, but she refused any money. I have written her a check for $150, put it in a thank you card along with some small earrings. I also got the landlady some chocolate and a thank you card.

Is the check awkward? We're both students, so money is an issue.

Hi Student,

You've sent the check, so "awkward" doesn't matter at this point, does it? You get a pass on this one, but what you need to do now is drop it -- don't mention it unless she does, and if she does, just say you were glad to do it and what a nice stay you had. Then switch the subject to how upset you are that this is the final season of "Lost."

Here's the thing: I get why you sent the check, I do, I've done it myself (not for a stay, but to a relative who lost her job. She never cashed it). You were kind to offer money, your friend refused (although she mentioned money later). Take her answer (the refusal) at face value.

Here's the deal with money and friendly hospitality: they shouldn't mix. When a friend or loved one puts us up, it's not because they want or expect anything in return, except maybe to enjoy our company, assuming we're not overbearing houseguests (which I can tell you're not).

When someone plays host, you pay it forward in the future by hosting someone -- that friend or another traveler.

Money is awkward, so in the future, leave it out. When you're a houseguest, it's standard (and good manners) to bring your host a gift and/or take that person out for a nice meal. For future reference, instead of money, or a crappy host gift (like soap), give something s/he would appreciate and wants/needs: an amazon gift card, a nice bottle of wine or case of good beer (don't laugh), pre-paid netflix.

Just in case you haven't mailed the check yet: While I'm sure she'd appreciate it, it's still awkward, so send the earrings. (Love it!) Oh, and the chocolates to the landlady? Massive kudos on that one. Well done.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Shut the fuck up

"I don't know how you people can drive these old junks around."

There's beauty in knowing when to keep one's mouth shut. Visiting someone's house? Meeting someone for the first time? Getting a ride home? Shut the fuck up with your offensive opinions.
Click "play" above to listen. Running time: 8 m 5 s.

Blogs/places/etc. mentioned in this podcast:

William Shunn - Writer and Podcaster
Hopleaf Bar
Ask Amy

Saturday, February 27, 2010

I want my driftwood back!

I was on the radio this morning and had some lovely calls. (Thanks callers!) What to do when someone gives away your driftwood? Or washes his armpits and feet on a plane? Or wants to pick his nose before his wife?

Click "Play" below to find out.

Running time: 19 m 25 s

Friday, February 26, 2010

Are you clipping your nails right now? Gross.

Happy Friday! Don't trim your nails at work. Gross.

Click "play" below to listen. Running time: 4 m 11 s.

Follow me on twitter.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Give now...or not. Charity is personal.

Charity's a good thing. Helping out is a good thing. Making others feel uncomfortable is not.
Be mindful when hitting someone up for charity donations. Giving is personal -- and also difficult during these shitty economic times.

Click the play button to listen in. Running Time: 7 m 5 s.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Can we just stop the one-sided bullshit?

I'm not going to give anyone (except bloggers) free publicity, so you'll have to do a little TV-watching on your own to get who I mean here.

There's this godawful commercial in rotation right now. A man and woman are shopping for a car. And throughout the annoying ad, the woman constantly punches either her husband or the salesman.

Let's flip this around a bit, shall we?

Let's say the husband were to hit the wife repeatedly because she won't stop nagging. Or the salesperson were to slap her after she wasted his time on an hour-long test drive. Women's groups would be up in arms calling for said ads to be yanked off the air.

Why is it okay for a woman to hit a man, but not vice versa?

Violence is violence, and hitting someone just because you see a car is pretty stupid. And makes me *not* want to buy your crap product.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Stop the TMI on FB. Really.

Facebook Overshare, indeed. If you're an fb user, the best advice you can follow is to "shut up."

Click the title above to listen to why you should Shut the Fuck Up (not "status facebook update," as I thought -- hear how dorky/out of it I am) when you're posting in a public forum. We don't care how hot your wife is. Really, we don't.

Best viewed/heard in Safari.
Best heard on a Mac, with some nice speakers. But your PC will do fine, too.

Links mentioned and worth checking out:

Running time: 4m 30s

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Valentine's Day: When in doubt, don't

Loaded holidays -- like February 14 -- are dangerous territory for those in new relationships. Yes, I know you're excited. But what if he/she isn't? Click the title to hear why you should maybe watch a Simpsons rerun on Cupid's Day.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Yes, you have to give a Valentine to everyone

Got kids?

Teach them, this Valentine's Day, that it's best (and good manners) to be all-inclusive, whether they like it or not. Translation: yes, your kid has to give a valentine to every person in his/her class -- not just the ones he/she likes.

Being inclusive, especially during such a public display of friendship as the Valentine Exchange, is the polite thing to do. And it's a good life lesson.

The sooner kids learn that it's best to play nice with everyone at the office, the better. And really, what's the harm in passing out cheap valentines to a bunch of people they'll never see after eighth-grade graduation?

Yes, grown-ups, we all exclude people once we're older. But being the one who's excluded is especially painful when you're a kid.

Nobody likes to be overlooked, or an afterthought.

(Well, unless that person is named "Charlie Brown.")

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

It's review time, so keep quiet

This time of year, managers in offices all over this great nation are stressed out. HR is riding their collective asses to get performance appraisals turned in, and not just turned in, but fitting nicely in their little pre-defined boxes.

That's some pretty private information. Sometimes, a Nosy Nancy happens upon it.

So, my message today goes out to anyone who is privy to sensitive information: keep your mouth shut.

I once knew a high-level assistant who had access to her boss's email. She delighted in reading it when he was on vacation, and then gossiping about who made what salary.

After discussing this with all my corporate friends, it seems everyone has a Nosy Nancy in the office who, for whatever reason, seems to know more than the VPs, and enjoys dishing it out to whomever will listen.

So here's a tip for all you Nosy Nancys and Gossipy Glens out there: ZIP IT!

Most of what you're blathering about is: a) none of your business, b) sensitive information. So keep it to yourself, and get your ass back to work. You're being paid to work, not gossip.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

How many of you are still going to the gym?

Raise your hand if you've been a good girl or boy and kept your New Year's Resolution. You know, the one about working out/running/hitting the gym/doing Couch Potato Pilates every week.

Don't worry, I won't tell if you haven't kept up. We all slack off or make commitments we don't really mean, anyway. (see: the divorce rate in this country.)

But if you are going to the gym, yoga, whatever, please continue to (because you already do, right?) be mindful of others around you.

  • Bathe, or at least wipe up, your private parts and pits before you go. Sweating is one thing. Reeking like a bathroom garbage can is another.
  • Deodorant wouldn't kill you, either.
  • Men: Keep that shirt on. Ladies: you, too. Men: No disagreeing with me on that last one.
And of course all the other rules I've bitched about apply.

Let's not get all, "But I want to..." with the excuses and reasoning. That's the problem with society -- we've forgotten how to be considerate of one another and have put our "I want" or "My kids want" whining ahead of respect for others around us.

In the privacy of your own home? Do whatever the fuck you want.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Where do manners apply?

Apparently, everywhere.

I'm being a little sarcastic, a little tongue-in-cheek. Yes, I get pissed off when some trash-talker is dropping the f-bomb every two seconds behind me in the checkout line at Target. Someone swears on their blog, podcast or via twitter? I'm not so bothered.

But if I see a blog entry with the F-word or S-word every few words, I'm thinking this is a classless a-hole.

There's no hard-and-fast twitiquette rule for how much you can or can't swear, just as long as you do it in less than 140 characters.

Facebook, on the other hand, will make you enter a Captcha code if you're a little too judicious with your swearing.

So be mindful. When are cuss words allowed? Not in public, but sometimes in private (or online) for emphasis.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Garbage goes in -- shocker! -- garbage cans

I don't want to shop among your garbage.

Just because every store now has a coffee shop in it, and just because they are kind enough to let you drink and eat while you shop, doesn't mean the store is your personal dumpster.

Throw your effing garbage OUT. Find a trash can. I promise you there are about five by the doors, two near the bathrooms, one behind every cashier station, and, oh yeah, about three in that coffee shop where you purchased your now-garbage.

I don't buy that everyone is this "forgetful." Try "lazy." Resist the urge to be a lazy-ass, and carry your disgusting, used, ful-of-your-germs beverage cup a whopping two feet, and throw it out. Thank you.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I didn't want to really know

Please learn when niceties (e.g., "how are you?" reply: "fine.") are appropriate, and when the truth (e.g., "how's it going?" reply: "Not great. I just had my second rectal exam and they still can't find the cause of the bursting polyps.") is not.

Save the personal chit chat for: a) the right people and b) the right time.

Work time is not the time to bare your soul. (Or polyps.) After work, with a trusted friend, partner, or tenth date might be okay.

Also, please, clueless people, please just sit back for a moment and observe body language. Your office mate with his coat on, briefcase closed, heading out the door to pick up his kid does not want to, nor does he have time to, hear about how stressful it was for you to discover that Just Tires only had three of your Goodyears in today, not the four you needed.

The co-worker who's making tea with her head down and shoving her mouth full of cookies probably needs to get back to her desk for good reason. So, no, she doesn't want to share her cookies, and no, sorry, but she doesn't want to hear about the check you bounced last week.

I'm not saying we can't have close friendships or trusted confidantes at work. We can -- in fact, it's a good thing. But if someone a) isn't a trusted confidante, or, b) needs to get to work (or to their kid, or some other pressing commitment), no need to share your deepest darkest.

Try, instead, something like, "I'm fine, thanks. Weekend was rough, but maybe we can talk at lunch?" And leave it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Please don't act like you know me then spam me

I realize that putting one's self out there in cyberspace and publishing one's email address is going to open one (me and every other blogger/writer/douchebag) up to a lot of unsolicited email. And crap. That's fine. That's why the spam folder exists (thank the web gods).

But for the love of pete, please don't cyber-stalk someone (like the person in the example below did), pretend to have some sort of connection or valid reason for writing to them, and hit them up for sales. It's tacky and a waste of the reader's time. Plus, you'll piss off the reader for pretending to have a valid reason for contacting her. And she'll blog about you and tell everyone else to mark you as "Spam."

Here's what I got from someone named Melanie claiming to know someone I know. All the typos are hers alone, as I did a straight-on copy & paste, with minimal editing:

subject: I got your email from XXXX [writer]'s site

Hi! I love XXX and love her site and her XXX book. she is my inspiration.

I started a business www.ispampeopleidon' about 2 yrs ago. I then started a second business with [product] and I am running that as my main business now.

(EB says: And I care, why?)

I found the most amazing [MLM] that I now sell accounts to and basically ask anyone I can if they want to sell too and make some extra money. You need to have a computer and so that is why I contact a lot of people online, 'cause I know you have a computer!

(EB SAYS: What makes you think I have a computer? Because I blog? For all you know, I sneak this shit in at my day job, and email at night from the free Library computers.)


I know this is strange to contact you this way, but I tell as many people as I can about my new business, so if you aren't interested just delete this email and I won't contact you again.

(EB SAYS: Please don't. Ever. Thanks.)

If you want me to mail you a sample, email me your real address and I will send you one.

[EB SAYS: Right, like I'm going to send my address to a complete stranger. Are you also a Nigerian prince who has a great investment for me?]

So, folks, got it? I don't give a crap if you've started a new business and the training they give you tells you to reach out to everyone in the most unconventional ways (I used to sell that shit -- I know how it goes). Don't pester those who probably don't want what you're selling!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I'm Hot on ChicagoNow!

Cool to be one of ChicagoNow's Hot Blogs of the Day.

In case you haven't been following, it's a new year, and that means the gyms are packed with New Year's Resolutioners...who get in your way, show up late, and make the workout experience miserable for many of us regulars.

Don't want to be sneered at? Then follow these workout etiquette guidelines. I'll letcha stand next to me at dance class.