The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines etiquette as “The conduct or procedure required by good breeding or prescribed by authority to be observed in social or official life.” So, even if you weren’t bred well, you can still choose to follow the rules of etiquette in order to act appropriately in social situations. I mean, I guess there’s a nitty-gritty area in the etiquette world in which just being willing to follow authority’s lead is not enough. For example, I once read about someone who said, “My Uncle is in jail. Do I still need to send him a wedding invitation?” My common sense tells me that that person should get a new uncle, but I can’t answer the question about whether the uncle should get a wedding invitation. Emily Post probably can.
Now, I know that I’m opening myself up to a lot of potential criticism by writing this post. After all, I’m certainly nowhere near perfect when it comes to not committing faux pas. But I hope that I’m not doing any of the following:
1. Not Waiting Your Turn. There are many examples in which people just don’t get this one right. I’m not sure if they get it and just don’t care or if they’re just oblivious. But, for example, if you walk into the lobby of a building and people are waiting for the elevator, you can’t just sidle up to the front of the pack as if no one else is standing there. Similarly, if you go to a restaurant that opens at noon and doesn’t take reservations, and if when you get there there are other people waiting to go in (even if there is no actual line), you don’t get to rush in first when the door is opened. What is going through these people’s minds? I imagine it’s something like “Yeah, I see all of you but I don’t care.” The next time this happens to me (when I’m the person who was there first) I’d really like to have the nerve to say “Are you ok???” and when the person asks why I’ll respond “I think we need to get you to an eye doctor because clearly you can’t see all of us standing here. Or you’re just an idiot. Which one is it?”
2. Wearing Sunglasses Inside. Are you drunk? Hungover? Evading the law? I don’t get it. Moreover, there’s a time and a place to leave sunglasses on top of your head when you go inside. That time and place is not during a school tour/interview or during a meal. The lights may be fluorescent but our eyes are not on top of our heads. We’re not frogs.
3. Not Remembering a Name. If I don’t remember your name but you remember mine, don’t keep saying my name just to make me feel bad. I get it. You remember my name and I can’t remember yours. You win.
4. Welcoming a Newcomer. When someone new joins you and your friends at dinner, a nice thing to do is smile and make them feel welcome. You know what smiling is, right? It’s when the muscles in your face pull the sides of your mouth up so your mouth is in the shape of a U. You should try it sometime! FYI, a smile is also the opposite of a frown.
5. Your Bag Doesn’t Need a Seat. If you are waiting for a service and the waiting room is so crowded that people are standing, when the person sitting next to you gets up, that’s not an invitation for you to put your bag in the empty seat. Your bag doesn’t have feelings and it doesn’t get tired. (As I’m writing this, I just thought of a business idea: handbag babysitter! Also known as Handbag Consultant, also known as Vice President in Charge of Wardrobe).
6. The Customer is Always Right. If a restaurant patron pulls a long hair out of the middle of her burger, the manager should not say “I’m so sorry about that! But, just so you know, none of the people working in the kitchen has long hair.” We see what you’re doing because we’re not stupid. You’re being very polite about the hair but you’re telling us that it’s somehow our fault. Now, I’m no chef, but I don’t know how my hair could have gotten into the middle of the burger unless I made the burger. And if I did make it then I don’t need to pay for it. So it’s free, right? Along with the rest of the meal?
Tell me what rules of etiquette you see being broken! Does it annoy you as much as it annoys me???