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