Etiquette Hell = Where the ill-mannered deserve to go


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While a sophomore in college I thought very hard about what to get a friend of mine ("Sandra") for her upcoming birthday and was very pleased with myself when I found a figurine of a favorite TV character for her. I wasn't too familiar with the show but I'd been assured that she watched it regularly. It was a little pricey (not exorbitant, but a lot of a college student) but I bought it anyway, certain that she'd like it. I dropped it off with a friend of hers that would be seeing her before I did (her birthday was during a break from school or something--I can't remember what at this point.) A few days after her birthday I hadn't heard anything from her, so I IM'ed her online and asked whether she'd gotten the present. "Yeah." she said. That was it. A little hurt, I asked her whether she liked it, whether she had one already, and didn't she like that particular show? She continued to give answers like, "Yeah" and "I guess" until I finally gave up. I was very angry at the time.

I told a mutual friend about it who had known her for a much longer period of time and was told that it was (unfortunately) simply the way Sandra acted. I stayed friends with Sandra for a long time after that because we were part of the same circle of friends and besides, she wasn't always such an unpleasant person to be around (we still talk occasionally, but I've moved out of the area) and she never really changed when it came to receiving gifts gratefully. I think she thought it was cute to be either indifferent to everything or brutally honest, when in reality everyone found it very annoying--some more than others. I got used to it but I can guarantee you that I never put much thought into her presents again.

Another story involving Sandra also involves a new girl who we were associated with only because she was a roommate of a friend I'll call "Lisa". Through Lisa, the roommate ("Kristen") had found out that Sandra's birthday was coming up. We weren't really fond of Kristen for a number of reasons but because she was Lisa's roommate she often tagged along with us when we went out, and we were always nice to her. Anyway, Kristen rushed out and bought Sandra a present despite not knowing her at all, and returned with a generic sort of gift she expected just about any girl her age would like. It was sort of a dumb present--a unicorn windchime--but the point is that it was a nice gesture, and that, of course, is what really counts. Anyway, Sandra opened the gift in front of Kristen and several of our friends, saw what it was, and LITERALLY threw it across the room, screaming, "I HATE unicorns!!" I am absolutely not kidding. It was appalling, and of course Kristen's feelings were really hurt. Even though I wasn't nuts about Kristen, I really sympathized with her on this matter and tried to explain that it was really a major personality flaw on the part of Sandra, that we'd all gotten used to it, and that she just shouldn't buy her anything again. I'll never understand why people think that brutal honesty in every situation is a good thing--as if we're all being fakes by observing a little etiquette and not hurting others' feelings!



I was bored a few Sundays ago, and I decided I wanted to go out for a bit. I also decided I should probably go grab a few things from the grocery store because I was getting sick of a lack of variety in my pantry. I never go into the store on Sundays, but that day was very busy. By the time I had gotten everything I wanted, needed, or that just looked good at the time, the lines were quite large. I had gotten into the shortest line, like any person would have done. Mind you, I had only seven items, but I still went for the shortest line, there being only one person in front of me. After being in line for less than a minute, a woman came up behind me with two carts full of groceries, the second cart being pushed by another woman, perhaps a friend or relative. I'll call the first woman "C".

After fidgeting through her stuff for a few moments, C told me something like, "Why don't you go in the express lane since you only have three items?" First of all, I didn't have a cart - I could barely hold all my stuff in my arms, so it was pretty clear that I had more than three items. Second, the express line, by this time, was extending across the floor and down one of the aisles. The woman asked me three times to go into the express lane so she could begin paying for her stuff faster. I began to get a bit ruffled at her requests, which were not very polite, and I simply told her that I did not mind waiting in the line I was already in.

C just sort of nodded her head at me and I heard her swearing at me shortly afterwards in one of those "I'm cursing at you under my breath, but I still want you to hear me" voices. I finally got up to the register and got my stuff onto the belt to be scanned. C took the plastic rod that is used to separate groceries and placed it between my groceries and where hers would go, and she made it a point to shove all my groceries as far down the belt as possible. I got my food scanned and paid for in less than a minute. I'm sure that woman's day was just completely ruined because she had to wait an extra thirty seconds to pay for her goods.

Please tell me, Jeanne...was I so horribly wrong to not give up my place in line because of the woman behind me who was peeing her pants in frustration that she had to sacrifice one extra minute in the checkout line?



Recently, my boyfriend and I were invited to attend the Sweet 16 party of his younger cousin, "Samantha." We went to the party, which was a meal at a very expensive restaurant. It was a family event, and all the other guests were much older. At the end of the meal, the waiter brought the bill to Samantha's mother, who said, "Oh, no, we want it split up. Everyone's paying for their own!" This was news to us, and as college students, we weren't exactly walking around with that kind of money. After a few moments of desperation my boyfriend and I decided we would have to put the meal on my "emergencies-only" credit card. Yeah, thanks.


Page Last Updated July 30, 2007