Etiquette Hell = Where the ill-mannered deserve to go


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Just Plain Tacky

When no other category fits the crime

Archive 2001

I just recently discovered the site, and have had several instances of slack-jawed amazement already, but I thought I might contribute my own.

A couple of months ago, my fiancée and her family were invited to dinner by our pastor and his wife. I was not invited, nor even mentioned in the invitation, and it was made clear that it would be an incredible faux pas should any member of my fiancée's family not attend. The day of the dinner, our pastor's wife noticed my fiancée's best friend sitting with us during the service, and proceeded to invite "Trisha" to dinner. As our pastor's wife is something of a self-centered, scary individual, I was not offended at the exclusion, although I was sorry I could not be there to lend my support to my love.

Fast-forward to their arrival at the pastor's house. As soon as they get there, beloved pastor's wife sends my love and "Trisha" out into the yard to pick up pieces of Styrofoam that had blown there during the night. Upon their arrival back inside, dear, sweet, considerate pastor's wife puts them to work serving lunch to everybody else, allowing them to sit only after they have prepared the table and seen that everyone else is served. To top it off, darling pastor's wife had not lifted a single finger to prepare this meal...rather she had called up several women in the church the previous night and "suggested" that they "bless their pastors" (as she considers herself a pastor) by preparing a nice lunch for them and their guests. Her only preparation was taking the dishes and warming them a bit. Needless to say, my love and "Trisha" bailed as soon as was reasonably possible. Perhaps if I had been invited I would have been put to work cutting their grass or painting their house?


My husband and I were invited over for dinner by a friend, "Roy" for several reasons. We hadn’t seen Roy in a long time, he’d adopted a dog he wanted us to meet and play with, and he’d met a girl that he started dating seriously, "Jane". Naturally he wanted us to meet her. Roy’s plans for dinner included making homemade pizzas, so we were to go to his apartment first and then go shopping for the pizza ingredients together.

When we arrived, we were greeted at the door by a girl who was ostensibly Jane. She was not wearing pants. I had hoped she was wearing very short shorts, but in fact, she was wearing an oversized T-shirt and no pants. We started chatting, me avoiding looking at her directly, and her sans pants. She beckoned to me and asked that I follow her to Roy’s room so that she could continue talking to me. As I averted my eyes to afford her some privacy, she proceeded to put on a pair of shorts. Then we rejoined Roy and my husband and we went grocery shopping.

When we returned, we discovered that the kitchen was a disgusting mess. There was cake batter crusted onto the countertop. The sink was full of dirty dishes because the dishwasher, which contained clean dishes, had not been emptied yet. Various bowls were scattered throughout the kitchen with food caked to them. There was no conceivable way to even try to cook the pizzas with the kitchen in such poor condition, so my husband and I just rolled up our sleeves and started cleaning. Roy soon joined us, but Jane became engrossed in a video game. When we had finished cleaning the kitchen and found room to cook, Jane walked into the kitchen (wearing pants).

Roy proudly said "Look how clean the kitchen is now!"

Jane replied, "You missed a spot", pointed at said spot, and went back to her nook in the couch where she started playing her video game again.

We don’t hang out with Roy and Jane very much anymore…


Many years ago, I participated in a week long class that was supposed to teach job seeking skills to low income people. (Not everyone is born with that proverbial silver spoon). The instructor started off with a pep talk on the benefits of employment...Then we sat with our instructional materials unopened in front of us as he spent five days regaling us with tales of his gambling exploits and his travails with the Department of Human Services after smacking his teenaged son.

According to him, he had won $25,000 (a large sum at the time) in the Iowa State Lottery. In order to accomplish this, he had to send in five "non-winning" scratch tickets, which would enter him into a drawing that qualified him to go on the lottery's TV show and spin the wheel. In order to obtain these non winning tickets. He gave scratch off tickets as Christmas gifts to his friends and family (how thoughtful) and then went around collecting the used tickets. He sent these in and qualified to go on and spin the wheel.

By the way, at the end of the class he was bemoaning the fact that low income people could get financial aid to go to college and he didn't know where he was going to get the money to send his two kids. I politely refrained from asking why he couldn't use that 25 grand.


A married couple of my acquaintance were expecting their second child, her due date was about a month prior to when this incident took place. Aaron decided to go on some weekend "bonding" retreat for men only. He left on a Friday and would return Sunday evening. His very pregnant wife had no problem with this as she kissed him goodbye (she was probably grateful for having one less needy person to take care of, but I digress.) I must mention that his wife, Kathy, is the stoic/perfectionist know the drill...they hate asking for help, can't stand it if something's out of place, etc. They are almost never admit to feeling overwhelmed, even if they are. 

Anyway, on Saturday, while Aaron was a couple of hundred miles away at his retreat and bonding with the boys, their 2 year old child became violently ill with gastroenteritis, AKA "stomach flu". Concerned her child may be dehydrated, she took him to the ER. While the child's condition was not critical, the docs want to admit him overnight, just to keep an eye on him. Mom, of course, agrees. She then calls the number her husband had given her in case of an emergency. Finally Aaron comes to he phone, Kathy tells him what's going on, and asked him to cut his weekend short and come home. Anyone who knows this woman would know that if she is asking for help, she is clearly overwhelmed. She was exhausted, very pregnant and now her toddler was being admitted to the hospital. Aaron tells her he'll get back to her. (HUH???) He rejoins the group and tells them the story, and (according to Aaron) they encourage him not to go home. He calls his wife back and tells her she's on her own, that he needed to stay where he was, and he would see them tomorrow night. I am not kidding. This father-to-be was so self-centered that not only did he ignore his wife's needs, but wasn't there for his own kid. I understand the fireworks that ensued after his homecoming were quite loud, indeed.

But sometimes karma intervenes....a few months later, Kathy goes into what is known as "precipitous labor", meaning there is very little time between initial contractions and birth. She delivered her baby girl on the bathroom floor while daddy is totally freaking out. All's well that ends well...both baby and mom were fine. My first thought after I heard about this was "20 bucks says he's leaving the mess in the bathroom for her to clean up."    Tacky0330-03

Have you thought about adding a topic related to E-mail and Internet manners (or lack thereof)? I get E-mails all the time from "Susie" that may have a sentimental story or poem or a picture of something 'cute'. Along with the cutesy content is an edict that the recipient MUST send back the E-mail to the sender and forward it to a specified number of people as proof of their friendship and loyalty. If you don't send it back and forward it to others, you will have any number of bad things happen to you.

Here's a typical one of those E-mails:

"I'll just take it as a hint if I don't get this back. How many people actually have 8 true friends? Hardly anyone I know! But some of us have all right friends and good friends!!! You have been tagged by the Friendship Angel Which means you are a great friend!! You will have good luck for Two Years if you send this to 8 people or more and if it is sent back to you then you know that you are a true friend..... You must send it in 5 minutes or your good luck will be broken!!!"

I am annoyed by these E-mails. It takes no effort to click a mouse and perpetuate one of these things. To me, proof of friendship and loyalty are the friends who came to the hospital at 6:00 a.m. when I had surgery, took care of my son, brought our family food, cleaned my house and who picked up my son and took him to school when I was recovering. We have all done things like this. One friend's mother died and while she was ill, we brought food, babysat, cleaned her house, took her son to school; when another's mother-in-law was terminally ill in the hospital, we took care of kids, made dinner, got clothes and haircuts for the kids for the funeral, etc. It takes a lot of effort to do things like this, but for a loved one, it doesn't seem like work. That's why I'm so offended that someone would insinuate that a paltry E-mail would purport to show true friendship. Maybe if one copied it in longhand, added a personal note and sent it by regular mail, it might mean something, but then, that would take time and the fine art of correspondence no longer means anything in our society.

I have never had the heart to tell "Susie" to stop sending me these things. I don't want to hurt her feelings, but every time I open my e-mail I cringe at the things she sends me. Another friend told her to stop; that she did not have time to wade through all of them, and "Susie" was heartbroken. How do I walk the fine line between standing up for myself and not hurting her feelings? I generally cower on the side of not hurting people's feelings and gripe about it to my husband!

At one time I would include "Susie" whenever I forwarded anything to friends, although I am much more selective in what I forward. "Susie" would look at the E-mail addresses of all the people I sent things to, and add anyone she knew to her address book, then bombard them with her cutesy E-mails. One person discontinued Internet service because of her and my sister changed her E-mail address and has threatened me with bodily harm if I give her new address to "Susie". Now if I want to share anything with "Susie" I send it to her alone, and send a separate one to everyone else.


 I received this email from a friend I hadn't spoken to for several months. It was sent to about 100 people from all over the country. In other words, to many more people than just close friends. Also, it was sent after she'd been out of town for several weeks, and I know from talking to other friends that she hadn't been in touch with many people during that time. So this is the first contact her friends have with her after a long hiatus:

Hey friends,

I wanted to give everyone the big update about what I'm up to, and since I've spoken to people at different times, I think everyone knows a different story! I am going to be moving to Smalltown, USA this fall to go to grad school at U of Smalltown. Yee-haw! (For those of you who thought I was going to Other School, the funding didn't work out. Long story.) I am going to be SO sad to leave Bigtown!!! In the meantime, I will be shirking all responsibility and taking a two month trip to Europe this summer, leaving June 4th. I'll be back the first week of August before Barney and I move to Smalltown, and will have a going away party then. Now I some questions for YOU:

Does anyone have a medium to large backpack I could borrow?

Does anyone have friends in Europe who would let me and Barney stay with them for 2-3 nights?

Does anyone have friends/relatives in Smalltown that you think I should meet?

OK, I'll leave you alone now. Hope to talk to everyone soon!


I'd like to share the story of a tacky graduation I attended at a small, rural, public college in 1998. That year, the state instituted a controversial licensing exam for prospective teachers. Part of the controversy was the fact that over 60% of those who took it that year failed the first time.

Every year, graduating seniors chose a faculty member to address the class. That year, they chose a professor from the Education department. She decided to use her speech to express her hatred of the Teachers Test. The Teacher Certification candidates loved her speech. Everyone else thought it was extremely tacky.


You have a great site--I can't tear myself away from it. I have a story that does not seem to fit into any of your main categories, but if you ever start a category for "Selfish" that's where the story could go.

Several years ago my younger sister became very ill and was hospitalized with a severe infection. She was placed in ICU, in critical condition, and we were told she had a 50% chance of survival. As you can imagine, this was an extremely stressful situation for our family. My husband and I lived close enough to her that we could be at the hospital every day, and my mother flew in from another state to be at the hospital at all times. My sister had a lot of friends and some of them organized meals for us and many people were very helpful and kind. One of my sister's former roommates had gotten married and moved away but came back for a weekend to visit with her parents, who lived in the area. The parents came to the hospital several nights in a row prior to their daughter's visit and sat with us in the ICU waiting room, and I'm sure they thought they were being supportive, but since none of us had met them before, it was kind of uncomfortable. They ended up staying every night they visited until at least 11pm, and my mother, who was sleeping at the hospital, tried to get them to leave (through hints, as my mother is loathe to hurt people's feelings) so she could go to sleep, but they did not take these hints.

When the daughter arrived for her visit with them, they brought her to the hospital and asked if she could see my sister. The ICU staff had stipulated that only family could visit my sister, and we could only see her for 15 minutes at a time, a few times per day. This was because they wanted to avoid visitors tiring her out and disrupting her sleep. The parents became very pushy and aggressive after we'd explained that only family could visit, and they nastily pointed out that we'd allowed my sister's best friend to visit. This was true, but it was also true that my sister's best friend had been at the hospital every single day during the entire ordeal, and at that point we were basically considering her part of the family. The parents pushed so hard to have their daughter admitted to my sister's room that the ICU staff consented to allow her in for 5 minutes, accompanied by a family member. I went in with the daughter, and my sister was awake and seemed happy to see her. The daughter took one look at my sister hooked up to the respirator, the heart monitor, the feeding tube, the catheter, and the blood oxygen meter and burst into tears. My sister, who could not talk (since she had the respirator tube in her throat) felt compelled to try and comfort her friend. I stood there in disbelief that this girl was not even trying to compose herself and was instead basically demanding comfort from my sister. I glared at her, trying to send her a message to stop crying, and eventually she did, and then her visit was over.

Afterwards she apparently told her parents what happened, and they were clearly angry at me for being so insensitive to their daughter's feelings. They stayed in the waiting room for another couple of hours, not speaking to us but radiating a passive aggressive rage toward our family and my sister's best friend. Just as I was about to ask them to leave, they apparently decided their work was done there and went home. I know I could have been nicer to their daughter, but as I said, we were all under extreme stress, and I found it ridiculous that they were acting like an injured party and trying to force us to feel guilty about putting my sister's health above their daughter's tender feelings. They did not return to the hospital, and since my sister's recovery (she spent 9 weeks in the hospital but recovered fully) the daughter has not contacted her once. I guess her friendship with my sister was only important when my sister had one foot in the grave.     Tacky0327-03

My boyfriend and I went to a rather classy restaurant for lunch one weekend. We were sitting opposite another couple who were in their late 50's, early 60's. All through our lunch we noticed the lady staring at us. The couple were barely talking and we were laughing to ourselves that could be us in 30 years. After a while she pulled out a pen and paper and started writing a letter, still looking at us occasionally, and drinking her coffee.

This was on a weekend so I had little makeup on, but still considered myself to be looking quite neat. We had arrived well after the couple so were finishing our entrees when they were leaving. As the couple were walking out to pay, the lady came up to me and said 'Here's a little something for you, please read it once you are home and have a bit of a think about it', smiled sweetly, patted my arm and walked out. It happened so quickly, I didn't even get in a word to her.

Immediately I read the note (I wanted to know why a complete stranger would be writing me a note while I am obviously dining with my partner). It read something like this: "I understand how upsetting a poor complexion can be with young ladies like yourself. But with the right care and attention you can improve these imperfections. I have a fantastic range of skincare that helps with redness and blotches. My name is Mary-Kay Jones and I believe I have something that would work perfectly for you. Please feel free to ring me at home any time so we can talk about what I can do to help you". 

This was written on a pink card on the back of a promotional leaflet/card for a well known cosmetic company that sell through representatives. I was absolutely gutted. I was so embarrassed I just wanted to leave, my boyfriend wanted to know what the note said, and I realized she had been staring at my skin that whole time. I felt sick after that intrusion and unwanted advice. Please note: Do not give out to unasked for advice to acne sufferers, especially if you work for a well known cosmetic company. Anyone with acne knows how confidence crushing the condition is. I will never say a positive word about that company, and funnily enough I never rang that woman up. I can laugh about it now, but was fuming at the time it happened.


Page Last Updated May 15, 2007