Friday, July 18, 2008

Semi Book Review: Kate Spade's Manners

My sister has a Disney book of manners that I loved to read when I was growing up. It really spoke to me because it was all about being considerate to the people around you. Most people I'm close with have wonderful manners. My bf from childhood, M, is her super southern mother's daughter with her yes sirs and no ma'ams. It's so attractive.

There should be a class in elementary school on etiquette. There should be a higher level version of the class taught in high school. Most importantly, etiquette ought to make up a significant portion of the citizenship test. You might say, "Hey! etiquette is something that parents should teach their kids at home." I agree wholeheartedly, but the sad reality is that much like sex education, too many parents are dropping the ball when it comes to this subject. Americans are turning into swine right before our very eyes.

I can't tell you how many times I have been at a restaurant waiting on my food, when the people around me just start eating without even noticing that there are those of us who have yet to be served. Now I like to tell people to go ahead and start, so that their food doesn't get cold, but these people don't even ask. Before I came to law school I actually worked with a woman who clipped her finger nails at work at her cubicle for everyone to see and hear. Adults throughout the country are licking their fingers loudly, smacking their gum, not saying excuse me after they burp, sneezing without covering their mouths, and slurping like barnyard animals.

Now there are some people who might say, "but in my culture this is a sign of [insert lame excuse]." To these people I ask: well, if you were in Iran would you give the thumbs up sign because it has a positive connotation where you are from even though Iranians deem it to be the equivalent of flipping the bird. It is disrespectful to go to Iran expecting everyone to follow American customs; likewise it is disrespectful for people to impose alien forms of etiquette on Americans in our own country and hurtful to dismiss the culture that has formed over out 232 year history. Just as it is not appropriate to extend the middle finger of your hand while bending the other fingers into your palm ("giving the finger) it is also inappropriate for the food you are chewing to fall out of your mouth back onto your plate. (Clearly, my personal pet peeves largely involve noisy and/or animalistic eating habits.)

But for those of us whose moms and dads taught us to say please and thank you, etc I found some gems while reading Kate Spade's Manners that I would like to share. It was not at all pretentious and it was fun to read. These were new to me and are sure to improve the quality of my life and more importantly the lives of those around me.

Personal calls should be returned the same day or within 24 hours.

Remove you hat when entering an elevator.

When you are asked to pass the salt, pass the pepper too.

Food should always be passed to the right, or counterclockwise.

and a few I knew but thought I'd share:

You may start eating before everyone else if you have hypoglycemia or another medical condition (besides rudeness)

The people in the movie should do the talking, not the people in the audience.

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