Etiquette Hell = Where the ill-mannered deserve to go


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When I was in highschool I took ASL (American Sign Language) as a foreign language.  Several of my friends were in the class with me and we enjoyed practicing sign whenever we could.  A friend of mine who wasn't in the class became quite upset when we would sign and he couldn't understand what we were talking about.  One day at lunch a friend of mine comes over to sit with us and we start signing.  He gets really upset and all but shouts, "WHY CAN'T YOU JUST TALK!?" I turned around to him and said, "She's deaf." His response was, "I'd like some ketchup with that foot please."



This story isn't so much a breach of etiquette as an honest mistake, but it's short and sweet, and we still give the offending party crap about it.   Every few years or so, my family and I all go down to vacation on a small island off the coast of Georgia. As it turns out, my sister's birthday rolls around the time when we're vacationing, so we often celebrate it there. One year, we got cake and ice cream, and us kids were sitting around enjoying it. My younger brother (who was about six or seven at the time), went off to the bathroom, leaving his (partially eaten) cake and ice cream unattended. My dad and uncle spotted the defenseless treat, and, thinking my brother was done eating it, finished it off for him. I have to admit, they were very quick about it.   

After my brother got out of the bathroom, he came back to the table, and, seeing that he no longer had a dessert by his place, called out "HEY! WHERE'S MY CAKE AND ICE CREAM?" at which point we all simultaneously thought "uh-oh."   Needless to say, my brother got some more cake and ice cream, and my dad and uncle were in disgrace for the rest of the day. This happened around ten years ago, but we still think it's pretty funny.



A good friend of mine since sixth grade, whom we will call Susie, sadly lost both her brother and sister (to two separate car accidents, 2 1/2 years apart) I didn't attend "Kenny's" service, because I did not know him at all, but if I understand correctly a crazy aunt was rubbing the box with the ashes in it. However, I did know Susie's sister "Sally". Sally was a wonderful, gorgeous young woman, so nice and always there for her younger sister. 

The memorial service was the bed held at 3:30 or four, I don't remember which, after school hours. This is because it was the second day back after winter break. I therefore wore a skirt and sweater to school because I wouldn't have time to go home. I walk out to lunch (eating outside) and a friend goes, "Oh my GOD! Karen is wearing a skirt! Did someone die??" I stared at him blankly and said, "Yes, Susie Jones' sister." I felt bad for him, because he didn't know--but he still stuck his foot in his mouth on that one.



A year or two ago I was doing a little shopping at the mall in one of my favorite clothing stores. After browsing for a while and trying some things on, I pick out a scarf and a purse and head to the front counter; I'm still in high school at this point, and I don't have a great deal of disposable income to spend on clothes.

As I'm waiting in line, the woman in front of me turns around, surveys my purchases, and asks, "Is that all you're getting?" She has an armful of clothes that she is barely managing to hold up. I nodded my response. "I see," she says, giving me a quick once-over with a sympathetic look on her face. "Well, you have to be, y'know, healthy to wear most of the clothes they sell here."

I was speechless. Yes, I'm a little overweight, but it's not as if I'm unaware of the fact. To make matters worse, she had a little girl with her, presumably her daughter. I hope she doesn't grow up thinking that the way you look is the only thing that lends you value as a person.



I've had allergies for my entire life and only manage to control them somewhat through prescription creams and medication. They're still very problematic sometimes and cause me a lot of inconvenience. Anyway, one day a few years ago, an old roommate of mine with acne problems tried a new medication that caused her to become very itchy. I didn't really like the girl because she tended to be loud and unintentionally inconsiderate and we had little in common, but I felt sorry for her (she didn't get along with our other roommate and I did) and was always nice to her. Sympathetic, I offered her some of my (non-prescription) skin cream to alleviate some of the itching. At one point she said, "Man, this really sucks. I had no idea I could be this itchy--I always thought people who complained about this kind of thing were just being wussy!" Oh, thanks a lot. I stopped offering her my skin cream after that, believe me.

Another story related to my allergies has to do with a sort of generic situation, but if you don't have something on this topic on your page already, maybe it would be useful to add it! I have many food allergies, some potentially fatal, which make it hard for me to eat out and limit my food choices very dramatically. I try not to discuss it with people because it makes me feel a little uncomfortable, but when someone asks why I'm not eating something, I tell them. (It's important that my food allergies not be a secret due to how serious some of them are.) Many times I have gotten the response, "I love that food! I would just die if I couldn't have _____!" or "How do you live without eating ____? It's the best!" How have these people been brought up that they think it's okay to say things like that?? Very rude!



I came home from work one morning (I work midnight-8AM). The phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number on the caller ID, but I answered anyways (it could have been for my sister, who was still sleeping).

On the other end of the line was an elderly gentleman. He demanded to know why I had called him earlier. His wife was upset by this earlier phone call.

I told him I just got home and had no reason to call him, a person I did not know. He asked if somebody else called from my number. I told him no. This call lasted for another minute until he revealed he had caller ID and that is how he was calling back.

Him: “This is your phone number: 555-8354.”

Me: “No, this is 555-8534.”

I guess the guy was so upset by the earlier phone call, he didn’t even apologize to me and just hung up. 


I have always looked a bit older than my actual age, and I have always been chubby. One time, when I was 11, I was at a *church* function, carrying around my infant niece (my sister, the baby's mother, is much older than I am). A lady walked right up to me, cooed over the baby, and promptly asked me, "When's your next one due?" and patted my belly. (For the record, my sister had made me wear a hideously unflattering dress that day, and it really did make me look big.)



My friend, "Annie," was at a church garage sale one time when she was 14. She was leading around her 2-year-old sister by the hand and looking for her mother, who was assisting with the sale. Annie's sister, "Jo," wanted a dollhouse, but Annie told her no. Then, a lady (who was apparently from that church) walked up to Annie, gave her the dollhouse, and told her that they had a few other "young, unwed mothers" in their congregation and encouraged Annie to come join them, to "repent of her sins and be spiritually uplifted." Annie coldly informed the woman that Jo was her sister.

Sometimes religious people can be too enthusiastic about helping others!



Here's a story that's more about someone speaking before they think than about bad manners.

My grandfather had always been in poor health for as long as I can remember, with heart problems, high cholesterol, joint pain, etc, etc. Still, it came as a bit of a shock to all of us when doctors discovered a malignant (inoperable) cancerous tumor the size of an orange on one of his kidneys. He was given less than a year, and we all made several trips to visit him, as most of the family had moved to various parts of the country.

I told my supervisor and my boss about this as soon as the cancer was discovered, and they were very understanding, and even urged me to take days off to go and visit my grandfather before it was too late. When he slid into his final decline, we all made emergency travel arrangements, and all managed to get to say our final goodbyes two days before his death, while he was still lucid enough to be able to recognize all of us. I had to travel back home right after that last visit, as I worked as a newspaper, and we were in the middle of deadline week (I was lucky to be able to get away at all). I was understandably fairly upset, as I had been quite close to my grandfather while growing up.

Anyway, there was a trade-show that weekend, and our office had a booth there. My supervisor was running it, and was going around trying to recruit people to come and help out with the booth over the weekend. I usually didn't go to these things, as I'm not a sales rep, I'm the receptionist, so it wouldn't really make sense for me to be there. Plus, my grandfather's funeral was that Saturday, which was something I'd already informed my supervisor of.

That Friday, he showed up at my desk with a sign-up sheet, saying, "Jane and Janet have lame excuses for not coming to this trade show this Saturday. What's yours?"

I gave him a confused look and said, "My lame excuse is that I'm traveling to attend my grandfather's funeral this weekend."

He turned all red and immediately apologized. Guess he'd forgotten!


I had posted this one on my blog a few months back.  As I have been laughing at the faux pas of others, I thought I’d better come clean. This anecdote describes a moment of exquisite stupidity, but I must own up to it.

A doctor came into the stationery shop where I work part time. He wanted to create a kind of simple advertisement, a note or something to which he could attach his business card and a send it out as a simple reminder to his clients to come in for their annual exams.

He really wanted to get this one fold-over note in particular because it was a color that was compatible with his card, which he wanted to affix inside. I told him that it would work just fine and that maybe we could print something catchy on the outside of the note that would encourage people to open it.

In fact, I suggested he write "Open Wide" on the outside of the note.

OK, so did I mention that this doctor was an OB/GYN?

Seriously, I'd seen his card so I knew his specialty, but I was somehow in my head thinking he was a dentist (maybe I was thinking that I needed to get back in to see my dentist about a couple of fillings -- I don't really know).

He was, of course, rather stunned. My female colleagues in the store were similarly stunned, and then they laughed. And somewhere in all of that I realized what I'd said.

As it was, the doctor wanted to do about 2000 of these notes, and that was far more than we could print up within a reasonable price, so we recommended a local printer to him since it would cost less to do this on an offset press.

Somehow, though, I don't think we'll be seeing any more of this customer.



Page Last Updated July 30, 2007