Etiquette Hell = Where the ill-mannered deserve to go


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I love your Site, keep up the great work!! Now my story, in highschool I decided to go to the prom, as I had always opted out before on any and all school dances my mother was thrilled and told me, "The sky's the limit" . I went on a shopping trip with my FSIL as she was a fashion maven and knew the best stores and could help me (I am not very fashionable, I prefer t-shirts and jeans). We went to a few stores with no luck as I am a large girl (at the time appx. size16/18 ). We go into one last shop for the day, and at this point I am very discouraged and about to say forget it to the whole thing. 

When we enter I was amazed at the sheer amount of dresses and accessories they had and we start to look. Now, granted, we are looking at dresses that are too small for me but we are only looking and I am oooohing and ahhing but in no way am I thinking,  "Hey maybe I can pour myself in this dress 6 sizes to small," and then it happened. From ACROSS the store a salesclerk screams at me, "You can't fit into those," and comes running over to me. Now I should point out that because of her outburst everyone in the store is now staring at me and since it is prom season there are quite a few people there. I am humiliated!! 

But it gets better!! Loud enough for everyone to hear she says, " We have a few dresses that would fit you, but not in this section," then she grabs my hand and pulls me to the other end of the store and says, "These may fit you look at these," and proceeds to stand there watching me. I look at the rack she has shown me which consists of four dresses each one more hideous than the next, and since I am not impressed with any of them I say, "Thank You," and begin to walk away. She then grabs a dress from the rack holds it up to me and says "This may work". I explain to her that I do not like the dress and I am not interested in it. She leans into me and says, "Honey we don't have much for you, and no one else will either you should try it on at least ."

 I am speechless and my FSIL says ok and grabs the dress and heads for the dressing room. Once inside the dressing room FSIL and I are talking about her rudeness and I tell FSIL I am not ever going to wear that dress it is awful (a royal blue tea length dress covered in sequins with a giant bow on each sleeve and a butt bow the size of Texas). FSIL agrees and we start to leave the dressing room then the saleslady knocks twice on the door enters and says, "Have you tried it on yet?"  I tell her no that I do not like the dress and we will go elsewhere since they have so few items in my size that I find appealing. 

Again the saleslady says to me, "No one else will be able to fit you either we have the best selection in town for someone with your build." I am floored but since we had been to a few shops that day with no success I actually am beginning to believe her and I agree to try on the ugly dress and who knows maybe it will look good on. I take the dress and make my way to the curtained off area of the room, she insists that I try it on in front of her.  I say no and try to head to the curtain area again she says to me, "You need to try it on where I can see you," when my FSIL asks why she explains that it is store policy. When FSIL points out that she had gotten a prom dress here the previous year and was not made to try it on in front of anyone, the saleslady says to us, "These are special circumstances she is different from you. "  I ask her what that means and she tells me, "You may get something on the dress I have to be here to monitor you." 

 I at this point became livid and told her that she was rude, inconsiderate and most of all just flat out cruel. I handed her the dress and told her that I would be sure to tell everyone I knew that this store treats people so badly and that she could rest assured that I would contact her immediate supervisor and let that person know of her conduct. 

As we were leaving she says to us, "I was only trying to help, you will never find a dress to compliment you." On the positive side of this story, I did find a dress to compliment me at another store, a beautiful dress. And at that store the salespeople were kind and helpful and I enjoyed them so much that when I got married I bought all of my attendants dresses as well as my own there and I have recommended them to everyone. As for the shop from hell, well , they are still around but we did complain to the manager and owner and that lady was promptly fired.


Several years ago, I was a book buyer for a major bookseller. I met with vendors on a fairly regular basis and most of the time it was wonderful ­ I saw many of the same people season to season, and we always enjoyed discussing new books, as well as our families, vacations, etc.

The buying department consisted of a VP, with whom I worked hand-in-hand, and me. My opinion was sought and valued on a very regular basis. At the time, I was only 27 or so, and several vendors (always seemed to be male, for some reason) didn't take me seriously. They quickly learned that despite the fact that I was young, my boss utilized me as an important decision maker, and had a very protective attitude towards me.

One day, a vendor came in and he, my boss and I were making small talk. The vendor mentioned that he was from Colorado and my boss made a comment about the University of Colorado having a great hockey team. The vendor said, "Yes ­ they have a great team,"  then proceeded to TURN TO ME AND SAY, "not that YOU'LL be interested in this, but they won first place in their division last year." 

 I was shocked, but quickly recovered, and in the most innocent way, said, "Why WOULDN'T I be interested in that?" Said vendor stammered "Well…uh" since he couldn't very well say, "You're a GIRL!" Need I say that this vendor never received ANY BUSINESS from us?! What a moron ­ alienating customers like that!    merchant0211-03

A few years ago I got it into my head that I absolutely needed a rocking chair, so I dragged my then boyfriend to a nearby chain furniture store. It was me, not the boyfriend, who dealt with the salesman. I was the one who asked most of the questions, my boyfriend being quite content to, except for a couple of inquiries, stay out of it. It was MY credit card, with MY name on it, that I gave to the salesman. It didn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that I was the paying customer. 

After the transaction was completed and my boyfriend and I are on our way, the salesman thanked us for our business, and initiates a hand shake. To my boyfriend. That's right, to my boyfriend. The boyfriend was a little slow on the uptake, not really expecting the gesture, but nevertheless responded because, well, it's beyond rude to ignore the offer of a handshake. I was a bit miffed when he shook my boyfriend's hand before mine, considering I paid for the damned chair. Assuming I was next, I started to extend my arm when I realized he had absolutely no intention of shaking MY hand. I was so nonplussed I just continued my way out the door, and by the time we got to the car I was livid. It was MY money that this yahoo had just made a commission from and yet it was my boyfriend he thanked. To this day I regret that I let him get away with that behavior. I should have canceled the whole transaction, but not before telling him why.   merchant0330-03

For a little background information, I should begin by saying that this last summer I shattered my back. I broke 11 vertebrae. Because of that, I had to have roughly 12 hours for reconstructive surgery and I actually died on the operating table. My spinal cord was perforated but not severed. So after a 3 month hospital stay and another 6 months of physical therapy I was up and about. I could walk with a four-pronged cane, but not really well. One could look at me and tell something was wrong. On one of my first major outings, I went to a really well known store to buy some new clothes. As I was looking around, and carrying at least $200 dollars worth of clothes-because no one had offered me any assistance- I tripped over a rug and fell. I fell hard enough that my knee split open. Instead of rushing over to ask if I was okay, the sales girl that had seen this happen started laughing and walked away. I was so hurt and embarrassed, I crawled over to a cabinet to get up, as I couldn't stand up on my own yet and then left the store- with everything laying where it was.


No one, as far as I'm aware, cares much for telemarketers. I try not to be rude to them because, after all, who knows if they have any other options but that unpleasant job. The business model is at fault, not necessarily the employees who implement it.

But there are limits.

One day I got a call from someone offering a subscription for a weekly news magazine. I told him I was already subscribed to it, but thanks for calling. He then told me he could handle the renewal of my subscription. Renewal time was over three months away and so I informed him. I added that if he called within two weeks of my expiration date, I'd be happy to handle it through him. He agreed to this, thanked me and hung up.

Well, he called again the next week about the renewal. I reminded him of our previous conversation (I didn't expect him to remember every customer he talks to, but did expect him to keep records or at least make notes). He interrupted me and said renewal now takes three months to process. He is concerned that I might miss a single issue of this fine weekly. The sooner we act, the better.

I know this is simply not true. I've been subscribed to this particular news magazine for over ten years and no subscription renewal had ever been dome earlier than three weeks prior to expiration (twice I'd even renewed after expiration and didn't miss one issue). I told him this, but he persisted that it would take three months, and may I give him my credit card number and expiration date? Give my card number three months early to a voice in the phone I don't even know is legitimate? I wasn't born yesterday.

I told him at some length I'd never been asked for a card number for renewal. Rather the person on the other end asks "Should we still charge your Visa card 9999?" referring to the last 4 numbers on the card, then ask for the expiration date. He tells me he doesn't have my card on file (likely not even my subscription, either, and he plans to sign me up rather than renew it).

I again told him it was still much too early, but renewed my offer to have him call me two weeks short of expiration.

And than it got bad.

He called me an "ignorant know-it-all" and other less pleasant names. He went on to say he would cancel my subscription and blacklist me so I'd never get that magazine again. I figure if someone insults me on the phone he's not entitled to any courtesy from me, so I just hung up.

But that's not all. He called again the next week and demanded I either renew now or miss out on the magazine forever. Just an ultimatum, not a single word of apology for the last time. I told him I wasn't interested anymore and hung up. He kept calling me daily for a week, but at that point I just refused to take his calls (all the calls were to my office).

I'm still subscribed to the weekly and haven't been harassed into renewing again. A funny tidbit, though: after renewing that time, I started receiving two copies of every issue and I never found out why. Had the persistent telemarketer called again, I'd have told him this with the greatest of pleasures.


I'm not sure what category this falls into. There is a gas station and small store across the street from my work. I have worked here for 6 years. This store runs out of everything all the time, even gas!! One time I went in to order a milkshake and she had me go to the back of the store to fetch the ingredients to make it. The worse was when I went to pick up lunch for me and my co-worker. Simple, a grilled cheese and a BLT. A young kid was working there (the only one) and after waiting 10 minutes for him to even look my way, his response was: If I wanted my order I had a better chance of getting it, if I made it myself. My jaw dropped, but I walked behind the counter to get ready to fry some bacon. The entire time he kept yelling at me that I was doing everything incorrectly (sorry, I had no training). When I was all done, I didn't get a thank-you or an employee discount!!


Being a larger woman, I have patronized several chain stores that carry larger size clothing.  While shopping for pants one afternoon, I was having a rather hard time finding something that fit. For some reason, pants have to be 1 to 2 sizes bigger than anything else to fit properly.  While trying on clothes, I came out of the dressing to get a better perspective in the big mirror.

Talking out loud to myself, I said that I don't understand why pants have to be a bigger size than other clothes I buy. A gentleman (and I use the term VERY lightly) that worked in the store was nearby stocking the shelves. He heard me talking to myself and felt the need to comment on what I had said. His response..."IT MUST BE ALL THOSE COOKIES AND CAKES YOU EAT."

Now, putting aside the fact that my eating habits are really none of his business...THE MAN WAS WORKING IN A STORE THAT CATERS TO LARGER SIZED WOMEN!!!!!!!! That comment was so incredibly crass and rude that I just stood there dumbfounded with my chin on the floor!!!!!!

I promptly spoke with the manager (who was also a large sized woman) and told her what the guy had said to me. She stood there for a moment with the same expression that I must have had on my face when he made the comment to me. She assured me that it would be addressed...then I walked out of the store without buying a single item of clothing!!!!!!   merchant0508-03

I live in a rather large yet rural college town; the population of the university exceeds the population of the town, so you can imagine the sorts of places there are to eat. My friends and I, in our endless quest for good pie, often go far afield to neighboring towns to try their restaurants.

We thought we hit the jackpot with one little family-type place, with homemade pie and potable coffee. One night, we all decided to take a trip, the six of us (mostly graduate students and teachers, a couple writers -- not a rowdy crowd), and get some pie after dinner. We show up at 10:00 PM, unaware that the restaurant closes at 11:00. I had skipped dinner, so I ordered some chicken strips. Our waitress was a bit curt with us, but that's not unusual so close to a major university. After my strips, I order a slice of cherry pie ala mode, and the waitress actually snorts at me. Now I'm suspecting something is up. She brings the pie, and it occurs to me that the restaurant may be closing.

"I'm sorry," I say, "are you closing soon?"

"Yes, in twenty minutes." The restaurant is still full of people, mostly farmers and one friendly man with a loud voice and speech impediment.

"Oh, okay, I'll eat fast then."

Actually, that's what I meant to say. I said, "Oh ok -- " and stopped, because she had turned around and walked away.

Fine. The key to etiquette, I firmly believe, is not noticing when other people behave rudely. I ate my pie (angry as a man can be while eating a pretty good cherry pie ala mode). Despite our misgivings, we all left 15% tips. Someone in our group who had been a waitress pointed out that she may just be tired and stressed from a hard day; I'm a teacher, so I can dig stress.

On the way out, the man with the loud voice and the slurred speech -- and, I see now, the characteristics of a Downs-syndrome victim -- said something to one of the cooks. The waitress made eye-contact with my friend, snorts again, and rolled her eyes at us as if expecting sympathy for having to put up with such people.

My friend has a close relative with congenital brain damage. We all turned around, without a word, walked back to the table, and took our tips back. We've been back to the place since, but haven't seen that waitress. Probably a good thing; when I think back to that day, my commitment to nonviolence wavers.   merchant0605-03

Page Last Updated May 18, 2007