Etiquette Hell = Where the ill-mannered deserve to go


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My mother is usually fairly polite, but every so often she does something so unbelievably rude, I'm left reeling.  A while back, she and I were having lunch in a nice restaurant.  Mum stood up to visit the ladies' room.  She didn't look behind her, and she barreled straight into the waitress.   That poor girl was carrying a fully-loaded tray, and it was only from some very deft sleight-of-hand and fancy footwork that the entire thing didn't end up on the floor.   To my horror, Mum didn't say a word of apology.  "Mum!" I hissed, "why didn't you say you're sorry?"  "Why should I?" she said, "it's not like she spilled anything."   I left an extra tip that day.



This is a long one. I'm not sure if there's etiquette for helping friends/family move, but there should be. I've moved a lot, and asked my family and friends to help me. In order to make the move go quickly, I try to make sure everything is packed so the only thing they really have to do is help load and unload the truck. I also offer to buy dinner. And most of the people I've helped move seem to know this unwritten etiquette. Sure, sometimes there are odds and ends not packed, but I understand packing always takes longer than planned. But generally, when I ask people to help me move, I make it easy on them as possible. With this system, I've made many successful moves and helped many of my friends move successfully. Until I met Lee and Gena.

Lee and Gena were college friends who graduated a couple of years before I did but were still living in the same town. Near the end of the spring semester, they finally decide to move out of their roach-invested, hole-in-the-hall, firetrap 1-bdrm apartment and into a nicer 1-bdrm (and up to code!) just a few blocks away. It wasn't going to be an easy move since they were known packrats (which meant a lot of boxes to haul), the apartment on the third floor, there was no elevator, and the easiest set of stairs to reach was the outdoor fire exit. The plan was for Lee and Gena to start early since Lee was just going to use his car because the new place was so close. At 2, my BF was going to help them out. Our friend Joe was going to show up at about 4, and as I had a study group, I was planning to go over around 6 and help finish up. 

When I got there at 6, everyone was there except Gena, plus Ann and Dan (who had not planned on helping so I wondered why they were even there), and the only obvious sign of progress I could see was that the giant entertainment center had been cleaned off. The kitchen was untouched and even had dirty dishes still in the sink (the place didn't have a dishwasher). Clothes from the closet and bedroom were spilling out all over the living room, and there were papers literally littering the floor. Lee looked completely overwhelmed and lost. Well, I'd moved at least a dozen times at that point in my life, so I took charge and gave everyone tasks. 

While Joe and I stuffed the clothes into garbage bags, he furiously told me what happened. Lee and Gena had supposedly started moving at 9 that morning. Lee was clueless and his plan was to load up his ONE box, put it in the car, run it to the new place, unload it, and go back, like a bucket brigade. Gena apparently starting feeling ill at 11 and just stayed in the new apartment. Lee met Ann and Dan (who lived nearby) while he was out getting lunch and asked them to help. Ann and Dan were too polite to say no and had no idea what they were in for. My BF had arrived on schedule, and Gena was still no where to be found. Joe said she was at the other apartment wrapped in a blanket (this is spring!), drinking soda, and looking miserable but not actually sick. 

It was 11 PM by the time we were done. We had pretty much packed their entire apartment and moved it. I had even washed their dirty dishes so they could be packed. To be fair, they did buy us dinner, but everyone was really angry that they'd taken advantage of our offer to help and that Gena was so conveniently sick (she was much better when the pizza finally arrived) and didn't do anything at all to help. Their friendship with Ann, Dan, and Joe pretty much ended that day.

But the story doesn't end there. Lee was clearly clueless on how to move, so he could be forgiven and spared the fires of etiquette hell, and if he or Gena had apologized for the hell they put us all through, perhaps it would have turned into a great, funny anecdote. They didn't apologize, and may they burn forever in Ehell for what happened a year later. 

Lee and Gena where still together and were moving to a house across town. Lee rented a truck for the afternoon. Ann, Dan, and Joe were not going to burned again, and didn't even make themselves available to be asked to help. As the saying goes, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. So I tentatively agreed to help, but I every time I saw Lee I made a point to ask how the packing was going to put in his mind to remember to do that. Maybe this merits me a place in Ehell, but I wasn't going to wash his dirty dishes again. Lee had a friend, Roy, who'd just moved to the city and was staying with Lee and Gena and was trying to help them pack. Lee assured everyone the packing was going just fine and everything would be ready to load in the truck as soon as we got there on moving day. Unlike Gena, Lee seemed to realize everyone had been pretty steamed over the last moving debacle. Also for this moving day, Gena was going to be at the new house all day removing wallpaper. Ok, fine, Lee had brought in plenty of helpers and Gena hadn't helped much last time anyway. I would be there, as would my BF, Larry, Jay and his GF (whom no one had met before but was a nice girl to offer to help just to spend the day with Jay), and Roy. 

We all meet at the apartment at 1 (Lee had the truck until 9 when the rental place closed) and immediately realize that we've all been fooled again. The packing has barely even begun, and what was done was done by Roy (the houseguest!). There are still dirty dishes in the sink (still no dishwasher). The floor is still littered with papers (at least an inch deep near the desk in the living room). And while Lee has gotten more than one box, he hasn't gotten nearly enough. We should have walked out. The group of us were *this* close to doing just that. After all, we offered to help them *move their stuff,* not *pack their place!* 

Two things stopped us from leaving. 1) Roy and Lee would have no choice but to try it themselves, and we knew Roy had been in a bad car accident a few years ago that left his back and shoulders pretty messed up. Roy could help with small things, but he shouldn't be moving large things. 2) We knew Lee's lease was up that day, and even if he could convince the leasing office to give him an extra day and rent a truck again on such short notice, he really didn't have the money to rent a truck for another day. So we all stayed to help, and again I took charge. 

The apartment was such a mess even with the seven of us it was going to be tough trying to get the stuff moved before Lee had to turn the truck back in. There were so many papers on the floor that Larry and I stayed to throw it all away while the others took out the first load of stuff. I admit, maybe I deserve a bit of Ehell because we weren't careful when we threw out the papers (we ended up filling five 13 gallon bags), and I didn't wash their dishes. I packed them dirty (I told them that too). There just wasn't time to be careful. As it was finished only about an hour before the truck was due back and we still had to drive 45 minutes across town to drop it off. They offered to buy us pizza. My BF and I declined and instead went back with Roy to drop the truck off since the place was close to where we lived. And Gena who was supposed to peel off wallpaper? In the time it took us to pack, load, unload their stuff, and make two across town trips, she'd gotten about a square yard of paper off one wall. That strained my friendship with them severely, although both of them remained pretty clueless as to why I was angry (Gena, who didn't like Roy, figured I was mad at him! Roy was a saint through the ordeal). I thought at the time, and I still do, that Gena especially but also Lee figured we'd all done such a good job the last time we helped them move that it wasn't a big deal if they weren't ready on moving day. Basically, they were willing to take advantage of their friends' generosity and of course they didn't apologize for putting us through moving hell again.

The punch line to this sad, sad joke comes a year later. BF is still good friends with Lee, although I have little to do with them. Lee offers to help us move. I figure fine, Lee can at least move a box and Gena can at least hold the door open (the apartment had an outer door that locked automatically). We had three other friends to help us, so it was going pretty fast. BF and I had the place all packed up in boxes, except for stuff like groceries which we just packed back in the bags and few odds and ends. Admittedly, not my best packing job. As I'm loading up a box, Ann (who was there for the first moving hell), tells me she overheard Gena telling Lee how badly I had packed everything and how she would have done everything much better! It took six of us (not counting Gena) three hours and one trip to get the whole place moved. I wasn't sorry when they decided they weren't going to stay for dinner.



 My friend, Amy, is married to Bill. Bill's younger brother, Chuck, is married to another woman, Dolly. Bill & Chuck are very close, so Amy has always felt compelled to try and have a close relationship with Dolly. I don't particularly like Dolly because she's a giant attention whore, but Amy is a much nicer person than I am. Dolly is pregnant now and seems to think she's the only woman in the history of the world to conceive a child. Amy, meanwhile, has been trying to get pregnant, but thus far no dice.

Last week Amy & Bill got an invitation from Chuck & Dolly to a "viewing". Amy didn't understand what it was for, she just put it aside. A few days later, she got an irate call from Dolly wanting to know why she hadn't responded to the invitation; the "viewing" place was around the corner from Amy & Bill's house. So Amy, being the slight doormat that she is, said she & Bill would come to whatever this "viewing" was. 

The day came, and Amy & Bill drove to what they thought was some kind of prenatal clinic. But there were at least 20 family members loitering in the lobby, so what could it be? They were all ushered into a home theater type of room with a big 50" flat screen on the wall. Then Chuck & Dolly showed up and Dolly proceeded to flop her pregnant self onto this cot. Music started playing and the lights went down. In walked some random person with an ultrasound machine. Suddenly Dolly snatched her shirt up and proceeded to have an ultrasound right there. The thing was projected onto the flat screen. The entire family started to ooh and aah as they were all treated to 4D ultrasound pics of the baby. The tech poked Dolly on various sides of her belly to make the baby move around. It went on for 20 minutes and then the tech bellowed out, "IT'S A BOY!" Everyone swooned and squealed with delight, but Amy was shocked. The lights came back up and the tech went on his way. Then some salesperson came in and offered DVD copies of the ultrasound for the low low price of $19.99. Dolly sidled up to Amy and demanded she buy a copy. Thank goodness Amy stood her ground on that one and said no. Dolly then pulled her aside and said, "Aren't you pregnant YET!?" Stunned, Amy said that she wasn't and Dolly said, "Oh well, maybe one day... it was so easy for Chuck and I though; I can't imagine what's taking you so long."   What a lovely person!


Read the discussion about this submission on the forum!

This happened so long ago but was brought to mind as I read the story of the woman who was slipped a note about her acne at the end of her lunch in a nice restaurant.  When I was a freshman in college, my then-boyfriend and I stopped at a chain restaurant for dinner and were seated at a small two-seater table.  The table was very close to another two seater, at which an older (50s-60s) woman sat alone.  

My boyfriend and I enjoyed our meals and chatted with the waitstaff, our only interaction (if you could call it that) with the woman being when the waiter mixed up her entree and mine.  At the end of our meal, I got up to go to the bathroom and when I returned, the woman was gone and my boyfriend looked upset.  I prodded him until he finally told me that when I left the table, the woman had turned to my boyfriend and said, "That has got to be the ditziest broad I have ever seen," and then got up and left.

I laughed it off, as I have always been outgoing and rather bubbly, but never thought of myself as "ditzy."  However, the sheer rudeness of her comment still strikes me to this day, especially since my poor boyfriend looked so mortified and so afraid of hurting my feelings!  However, I guess I really did get the last laugh, as I went on to become an attorney at a prestigious firm - just the kind of profession where a "ditzy broad" would wind up, huh?



My daughter is in in Kindergarten and has really enjoyed making so many new friends with her classmates.  The rule in the class for birthday party invitations is that if you are going to give them out in school the whole class has to be invited.  Because of this she has been invited to many birthday parties throughout the year and the parties are discussed at length by the kids and all are excited to go to each event. 

I was happy for her when she hopped in the car after school one day and excitedly handed me another invite for a party for all the kids and the Mommies are invited too.  Imagine my surprise when I open the invite to see that it's for a well known sell-at-home candle company party.  The child's mother had used her kid to reach more people to sell her overpriced candles too.  I was appalled and even worse my daughter was deeply disappointed to find out that we would not be attending the party because it was in fact NOT a birthday party.



I ride the buses in Houston as I cannot drive. There are three different kinds of buses: commuter, express, and park & ride or P&R.  Most of the people who ride the P&R buses are well off because they are the most expensive to ride depending on what commuter zone you are going to which you could pay up to $3.50 per trip.   Most rides are uneventful except for the bus that goes to the hospital, but what I witnessed this day trumped all of those.    

There is a mother and her young daughter who get on the bus at the transit center. I recognize them from another route because the little girl attends private school on the same side of town I travel on during the week. They bring newspapers to sit on the seats. Fine because I understand they do not want to get their clothes dirty as the commuter buses are not the cleanest buses around. I'll add that their clothes weren't exactly fancy, except that the little girl wore white stockings and Mary Janes. You could find their outfits in any Wal-mart.

The little girl sits with her nose in the air. It didn't take me long to realize she was copying her mother. They have the "I'm better than you" kind of attitude towards everyone on the bus.
  A woman gets on the bus. She smells of cooking oil. Sometimes when you fry something, the smell gets stuck in your hair and clothes. As a Black woman, the type of hair I have traps those smells quite readily. The mother acted as if this woman had a disease and took out a tissue and held it over her nose. Her daughter did the same.    

I said to myself, "That is a very rude behavior to teach your daughter."
  I believe that if the smell was that bad, they could have gotten off and take the next bus behind. I've had to do it when I got on a bus that had a smell of bodily odor that I could not take.


Page Last Updated September 18, 2008