Feel Good Friday – Good, Clean Fun

by admin on April 18, 2014

One of my favorite comedy acts that I go back to watch at least once a year. Good , clean visual jokes.

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My sister-in-law has a preteen son with a man she has not been in a relationship with for basically the child’s entire life. Although the child’s father pays support, he is at best, disinterested in his son. He will blow off visits, not acknowledge the child’s birthday, etc.

My problem is that my sister-in-law (and my mother and father-in-law) consistently speak poorly about the child’s father. The discuss, openly and in front of the child, what a jerk the dad is, the inadequacy of his financial contributions, and their disapproval of whatever went on at dad’s house when the child does visit there. The child was quiet at first when these discussions took place, but now he is chiming in. I find it really sad that these adults are talking like this in front of the child, even if dad is a jerk. I think it is more sad that the child is now taking part in these discussions. I really only see the in-laws on holidays, and these discussions happen without fail every single time. I spoke to my husband about it, and he feels it is not his place to say anything. Should I say something? If so, what?   0401-14

If these are your in-laws badmouthing their own daughter’s ex-husband, I wouldn’t dream of offering an opinion about their behavior to them.   While their own behavior is destructive to themselves and the preteen son, none of them will be able to see that and your opinions will fall on deaf ears.   And you could be viewed as meddling.   This situation is not within your sphere of responsibility to admonish the in-laws so your husband’s counsel is correct.

What you can do is model decent, edifying behavior so that years from now your nephew-in-law might notice who is trustworthy and above petty backstabbing and seek you and your husband’s counsel.  Be prepared at the family get-togethers to change the subject with a fascinating diversion or intriguing bean dipping.

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The Accidental Hostess

by admin on April 15, 2014

This is a story about how I inadvertently found myself on the path to Etiquette Hell.

I was pregnant with my son, and well into my second trimester when my mother-in-law decided I should have a baby shower. Now, I am not a fan of showers of any kind. I did not have one for my first child (from a previous relationship), and I certainly had no intention of having one for my second. MIL insisted that relatives had been asking her when the shower would be, and that since my other child was older and a different gender a shower was perfectly fine. She said she would take care of everything and all I had to do was show up, and it would be a great way to see some of the relatives I wouldn’t otherwise get to visit. I should have listened to that little voice telling me this was a horrible idea.

Over the next few weeks my MIL was in contact, asking me who I wanted on the guest list. I gave her some names, but truthfully, I was hesitant to put any of my friends through such an afternoon. Then came the requests for game ideas. I had no idea, but I looked up some different games online that I thought might be fun, and sent them along to MIL. Next she wanted to know what would be good to have for food. Once we settled on that, she asked if I could call and order the sandwiches and cake since she lived several hours outside of town and it would be easier for me to order the food and pick it up.

It was through one of my invited friends that I learned that the shower was being held at my house. I called MIL and asked her what was going on. She said that she couldn’t find a suitable location for a reasonable cost, and since everyone already knew where I lived, it was the best option. She didn’t ask or even tell me that this was the arrangement!

I’m sure you see where this is going by now.

By the time the day of the event finally arrived, I had put together a guest list, researched games, ordered and picked up the food, and had my house commandeered as the location. I had spent hours cleaning and preparing my house for guests. MIL didn’t come to my town until the evening before the shower. She dropped a bag of decorations at my door and said she had to run and do some last minute things, and that she would be by in the morning to set things up.

The next morning came and I got up early to be ready when MIL arrived. By 11:30 am there was still no word from her, so I started in putting up the decorations and setting out the chairs. Hubby was taking our older child to a movie but he helped until it was time to go. I set out the food and got the music ready. By this time a few of the guests had arrived. Still no MIL. She finally rushed through the door, saying that she overslept and then had to pick up some last minute items. She poured a couple of bags of chips into bowls and that was her contribution to the set-up.

When it was time to play games, MIL insisted that I take over as host and give the directions. I wasn’t comfortable with this at all, but she refused to do it saying she didn’t know anything about the games, and I knew more people here than she did.

So when the baby shower was finally done, I had taken care of the guest list, games, food, and prepared and run the whole event. I basically became host of a party for myself that I didn’t even want in the first place. I cringe to think of how many etiquette rules I violated with this one event! 0407-14

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Begging Guests To RSVP…..Don’t Do It

by admin on April 14, 2014

My sibling’s significant other does not RSVP to any invitation, whether the invitation is in print, emailed, or discussed person-to-person. Since I’m the one supplying the food and drinks, I need to know who’s going to be there, right? I want to call this person up and say, “ARE YOU ATTENDING OR NOT?” However, I don’t want to be pushy, or anger my sibling, or be rude. Frankly, though, I think that the significant other is being rude by not responding to an invitation. I never know whether this person will show up or not. Should I say anything to this person or just let it go? If I should say something to this person, what is the best way to say it? 0406-14

Not responding to an invitation is one of my personal peeves.   As if my meal planning and preparation, shopping, getting the house ready and sending invitations wasn’t enough, these people appear to expect me to come begging them for an answer.   Over the years I come to this conclusion, “If I have to contact you after the RSVP due date and beg you to give me an RSVP, any RSVP,  to my invitation, I made a mistake inviting you.”    And I don’t repeat that mistake twice.     There is a reason why some people sit at home lonely and are social outcasts.   Occasionally people have submitted stories to this site whining of having been left out of some cool event all their friends have been invited to and I wonder if the reason for the snub is they have been dismissive of previous invitations and what they are experiencing is the fallout of having been far too casual in RSVPing to prior invitations.

If you choose to continue sending invitations to your sibling’s SO,  I would plan on setting the table for the exact number of guests who actually had the courtesy to respond to your kind invitation.   If the SO deigns to attend your function, you greet him/her at the door thusly,  “Oh…..when I didn’t hear from you I assumed you were not coming.   Let me see if I can scrounge up an extra chair and place setting. ”   I would make it obviously awkward for this rude guest who has so little respect for you that he/she cannot be bothered to inform you of an intent to attend.

 

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This is one of the best Feel Good Friday videos ever to have appeared on Ehell. Absolutely excellent.

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I am submitting this to eHell in hopes of getting a bit of advice on how to handle a highly confrontational situation with a member of the public and my supervisor. I can be an unthinking twit sometimes, and while I honestly do not think I’ve done anything wrong perhaps I am too close to the issue. I would welcome any helpful comments.

Here is what happened:

I work for a public high school as the database clerk. I manage the data on the students, input it, analyze it, compile it and just generally make sure that it’s all there and available to anyone who needs it.

Last summer (I work all summer) a parent came by two weeks before school began to update her address with us. She brought in proof of residency (an official piece of mail, in this case some correspondence from a utilities company) and her ID. I went to the copier to make copies of both when I noticed that the names didn’t match. I went back to her and asked: “Ma’am I’ve noticed that your name isn’t the same on these documents, did you change your name recently for any reason?”

She shrieks at me: “That is NONE OF YOUR business! You shouldn’t be asking about that!” When I say shriek, I mean shriek. She startled me so bad I jumped. A co-worker came running, thinking I was in danger of some kind. The parent continued to yell saying that if I was going to ask such personal questions I shouldn’t do it in a public waiting room but instead take her to my private office. (She used different language and a much higher volume but that was her ultimate point. I think.)

I would like to point out that it was summer, there wasn’t anyone in the room with us. My co-worker who came running was within ear shot of yelling but not normal speaking voices. But I was so flustered by her outburst that I didn’t think to say that, I only apologized and asked if she’d like to go into my office. She yelled that no, she did not. Took back her documents and stormed away. I wrote the incident off as just another peril of working with the public.

Several weeks later, just after school began the same parent returned to drop something off. She took one look at me and started yelling again. My principal was in that waiting room seeing another family and quickly came over to see what was wrong. The parent expressed her unhappiness at my continued employment in the most impolite terms possible and at great volume. She said that she did not want her child’s file to “…be handled by this woman in any way! She does not like me, she does not like my child and I will not have that kind of attitude around my children!” (I have never met her child; the school I work in has over 1800 students.)

I have never been so verbally abused in my life. And I worked in retail before the public sector. My principal let this parent go on at some length, completely disrupting the waiting room and creating quite a spectacle. I did not speak up, rather waited for my principal to make the first move or comment. Finally, my principal turns to me and simply dismisses me back to my office. I fled.

What should I have done? My principal was right there listening to this woman abuse one of her employees. Should I have deferred to her as I did that day? Or should I have spoken up for myself, regardless that my direct supervisor was right there and was technically the one in charge? What do you do when faced with someone who is being unreasonable at such a high volume like that? She was right during our first encounter, you should never ask personal questions of someone in a public setting like I did, but I honestly didn’t think anything of it at the time because we were alone, despite being in the waiting room. Again, I welcome any advice! 0404-14

You do not reciprocate in kind whatsoever.   One has to trust that people recognize a drama queen and the more the histrionics, the less credible they appear.   By remaining calm, you present an image of professionalism and credibility.     It’s like that video that went viral of the female customer screeching in the Apple store.   No one had pity on her, other customers were either bemused or thought she was loony and meanwhile the store employees remained calm and in control.   Who lost in that scenario?

 

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Grandma’s Car

April 9, 2014

This story developed over the course of a few years, finally “resolving” a few months ago. As my grandmother was getting older, everyone in the family was anticipating the unfortunate yet inevitable day when she would be unable to drive her own car. Since we knew how much she valued being able to run her […]

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The Reluctant Babysitter

April 8, 2014

One of my fiance’s close friends, “Mark”, recently moved in to a house on our block. He and his wife, “Sue”, are always offering to watch our children so we can go on a date because we never get the chance. Then when we actually need help, they never follow through. Most recently, a band […]

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