Etiquette Hell = Where the ill-mannered deserve to go


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Those little "treasures" we all would love to bury

2002 Archive
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Oh, Jeanne!  I love your site, and eagerly look forward to any updates you may have.  Unfortunately, the rugrats story I have is of my own little rug rat.   My husband is a holiday Catholic (Christmas Midnight Mass and Easter ), and while I am not a regular attendee of church (I may not attend church often, but I am secure in my beliefs), I do support his backsliding Catholicism.  By support, I mean I get the kids and myself ready, and we attend with him and his parents.  This past Christmas, we went to Midnight Mass.  This was the first mass for my son, but my daughter had been for the previous two years.  I don't know if you've ever been to a formal mass, but formal means FORMAL.  Mass starts at midnight, but the choir starts at 11:30, and if you want a parking space or a seat, you'd better be there by 11:00.   My children are 7 (girl) and 4 (boy).  My daughter behaved beautifully.  But, oh, my precocious little son...   

We arrived at the church at 10:50.  It wasn't too crowded yet, and we found good seats about midway in the chapel.  (Do Catholics call it a chapel?)  In our church, there are "stations of the cross" in small sculptures all around the walls of the church.  My son behaved much better than I expected, to begin with.  He was very curious, looking around and telling me everything he has learned about Jesus.   The choir stopped, and mass was about to start.  In the pause between the choir and the beginning of mass, my son states quite loudly while pointing to the station of Jesus on the cross, "That's JESUS!".   Everyone within earshot turned to look at him.  He smiled, to show he appreciated their attention, then, with the same look I give him while I'm trying to encourage learning his alphabet, he adds, "He DIED!".   The mass started amidst chuckles from all surrounding people (including my in-laws), and my face turned a bright shade of red.  Thinking about it now, it is pretty funny, but at the moment, I wished to melt into the floor and disappear.   I do honestly believe, that if mass hadn't started at that moment, he would have finished telling everyone about Jesus.  I just hope that no one from the church thinks that I've told my children that Jesus is dead.



I used to waitress before starting medical school. After one particularly hellish shift at , my fellow server/friend fled with me to the adjacent and more upscale place, to decompress over a margarita or two in blessed peace, and get the anger out of our systems before going home to shower and come back to do it all over again that night. Time: About 2:30 in the afternoon.

The following information is highly relevant:

*This is a very large restaurant.

*It is non-smoking, with the exception of the bar.

*The bar takes up perhaps 1/20th of the restaurant and is segregated with walls; the rest of the place is open-plan.

We noticed, as we came in, as professional servers do, that we were the only people in the building who didn't actually work there. Oh, wait. Once we got into the bar area, we found two soccer moms grandly ensconced at a corner table for 6, that was covered with margarita glasses (this is a common trick of servers worldwide: you're annoying us beyond human endurance). They were utterly ignoring their kids, and the kids were doing what unsupervised and poorly-trained children do; running amok, screaming blue murder nonstop, and creating messes of apocalyptic proportions. There was a gargantuan bin of tortilla chips; they had somehow coated the entire floor with them and then stomped them into crumbs. I don't want to talk about the salsa.

My friend and I huddled on our bar stools, got our drinks, put our heads together, and started fiercely ranting about the people we'd dealt with that day. We had to put our heads together. Normal conversation was drowned out by the kids. Two kids were somehow creating such utter pandemonium that they could be clearly heard all the way back in the kitchen - at least 3000 feet away (I heard about that on a different visit).

Behind me, sitting on the bar, was one of those TV-screen machines that has about a hundred games on it. I heard some commotion behind me and chose to ignore it. My friend's eyes got very big, and she told me that both of the kids were somehow managing to climb onto a bar stool in front of the machine - the seat was level with the taller one's head. I told her to ignore it, they're not bothering us. O woe, that I could have been so dreadfully mistaken.

More commotion as the kids pounded the life out of the screen and continued their fine tradition of conversing (?) at the top of their amazingly powerful lungs. Annoying enough. Ignore it. They'll go away soon enough. Right? Right?

Then, the event that made me into the highly-confrontational, worst nightmare of neglectful parents everywhere happened:

The older kid figured out that he needed money to make the machine work, so he reached over, got a firm, sticky grip on my nice, long, butler-summoning French braid, and gave it a yank hard enough to make tears come to my eyes. My scalp felt like it was going to separate from my skull. I whipped around to face him, and he stuck his face to within an inch of mine, and literally shrieked at top volume, complete with spittle all over my face, "I need money for this! Gimme money! I need a dollar! Gimme a dollar! Gimme a doooollllaaaarrrrr!!!"

I snapped out, "NO!", thoroughly infuriated, and swiveled back around to find a napkin to mop off. My friend was beyond stunned. The bartender vanished with the speed of light into the back to fetch everyone else on staff, for what looked like a floor show about to happen. Thus, they were all - cooks, busboys, waiters, managers having a manager meeting, and bartender - there to see most of the following:

A split second later... he did it again, yanking, shrieking, and all. It hurt so much that I let out a hearty yell of my own.

The last vestige of civility in me died at this point; I snapped. I spun around so fast, I nearly fell off my stool, and screamed, "WHAAAT?!"- at the top of my lungs, right in his face, spitting on him as he'd done to me. The kid was unrepentant, and kept up with his shrieking for a dollar. I was beyond infuriated at this point, seeing red, ready to kill - a very long, very difficult shift, and now this? All I wanted was a lousy single margarita and to rant a bit with my friend, but instead, I get more of this twit-headed behavior from the general public.

I looked over to the mothers' table, where they were happily sucking down what appeared to be their 15th margarita apiece, and utterly oblivious of this little drama (or willfully ignoring it), and called across, "HEY. Would you mind telling your child that trying to rip my hair out by its bleeding roots and screaming extortion demands at me is not good behavior?"

How she heard that, and failed to hear her boybrat screaming for money, is beyond me.

One of the mothers looked lazily up at me, scanned me head to toe, apparently calculated "waitress, expendable, stupid, easily intimidated", and said, in the snottiest tone imaginable, "Would you mind not smoking around my chiiiiiiild?"

To recap: Gigantic, deserted restaurant, 19/20ths of it does not permit smoking, and she chose to sit in the tiny and walled-off smoking area, and further chose to chastise me - instead of that hellbeast she gave birth to.

The thought drifted through my mind: "Haven't you taken enough abuse?" and was answered by a hearty "HELL yes".

I lost it. Very heated words were exchanged. Mommy chose to escalate the proceedings and physically attack me. Not a bright idea, as I'm a veteran, strong as a horse from zipping around for 16 hours per day with a tray over half my body weight on my arm, and taught to fight by various pros, black belts, and combat veterans. I doubt she's worked a day in her life, or ever been in a fight that didn't end with someone whining "I broke a naiiil!". Cops were called, and my friend abruptly abandoned her efforts to distract Mommy's friend and hauled me out posthaste. Funny how nobody on staff had the slightest idea who we were. We went, get this, to a biker bar, and finally got some peace. If you don't see the irony in this, well, sorry.

That was the day that I decided that silence is not golden; parents, beware. If your kid is behaving like an animal, no matter where it is, I'm going to chastise the kid, and I'm going to have something to say to you. I will especially have a lot to say to you if you pull that "how dare you yell at my baby" thing on me. Someone has to, and this villager is paying a crippling amount of taxes for the privilege of having every public excursion run over by kids whose parents don't know how to parent. Frankly, I'm going to have quite a lot to say to you, and you're not going to like a word of it after "Is that your child?".

Furthermore, parents: Your children do not belong in a bar. EVER. I don't care if it does serve nachos and burgers; plenty of other places do, and they serve beer, and they're not bars. This is a bar. The food is incidental. Find a place where food and entertaining kids is the primary goal and they serve beer to keep parents happy. I can't imagine that your kids are going to be anything but bored in a smoky, darkened place with sports on the TV and various people staggering blindly around. Get. OUT. My civility ends where your blatant disregard for others begins, just as your rights to do things end where my rights begin. If you think that you have just as much right to be here, even though you have extra (little) people.... guess again. Wrong.

I'm the one that got you thrown out, and I'm the one reciting your license plate number and vehicle description into my cell phone to that nice 911 operator. Get a sitter. And a cab. if you can't afford that, stay home and drink there, like I do.



Hello Mme. EHell,   I am visiting from your Delphi Forum and though you'd appreciate the story of the Demon Spawn and the Disabled person.   I'm a cancer patient, and have some significant problems in long distance walking. I'm fine, for instance, from the car to the grocery store, but the shopping and carry-out get tiring. When our local market is out of handicapped carts (and, no, little boy, no matter what your Daddy says, they are NOT  'fatass carts') I will attempt to make it through an abbreviated shopping session without one.   

While making a short attempt at buying necessities (milk, bread, eggs, pet food and Swiss cheese) using a regular shopping basket, I was continually having to avoid a group of unruly children that were running, throwing things, screaming and bumping into people. The 3 and 5 years olds were being antagonized into the worst of this by a child who appeared to be around 9 or 10. Their parent was a man who was on his cell phone, and he just flat ignored them.   As I stepped toward the milk display, using my cane for support, the middle child barreled into me, knocking me backwards onto the floor. The oldest child stopped short and goggled, then took off for parts unknown. The youngest, as I mentioned, about three years old, ran toward me and jumped into me headfirst, his head striking my midsection.   I've had three abdominal surgeries. I walk with a cane and your children are in a pile with me where they have knocked me to the floor. Dear Parent, HANG UP YOUR PHONE. That adult that is vomiting on the floor near your child is in pain, and your child is responsible.   Thankfully, the store management had been alerted to the problem and was on their way to remedy the situation and saw the whole thing. The policemen that came with the ambulance call were wanting me to file charges against the father and children, the store management was hoping that I wouldn't sue them, and the father was yelling at the police that it wasn't HIS fault. When I was taken away, they were all still arguing.   

Later, as the store manager was visiting at the hospital, he nervously asked if I was filing a complaint or a lawsuit. I reassured him that it wasn't his fault, but that my insurance people would be contacting the father of the perpetrators. No, they didn't file to recover their costs, although they could have. They DID send out an investigator who scared the father more than he scared the children.   This parent has learned to recognize my vehicle, and if it's in the parking lot he takes the children elsewhere until I leave. He told the store manager that he doesn't want to have to make them apologize to me, as it would upset their psychological development. He's a child psychiatrist. Personally, I think he's breeding a group of patients for someone's practice.   

And, according to the store manager, when he comes in with the kids, they send a checker or sacker through the store with him and the children, and he pays for everything they destroy, including a whole stack of tomatoes they knocked over, at $2.39 a pound.   I have been treated very well by the store management, even though there were no lasting problems from the incident. And they have put up signs indicating that unruly children will be expelled and banned from the store, if necessary. (Financially, the doctor must be able to prevent the 'necessisary' by covering the damage his children do.)   We've moved from that area since then, but I often wonder if the poor store people are still dealing with those children.


We are the adoptive parents of a 20-month old. One Monday in 2003 I came home from lunch and our caseworker called to tell us he had arrived. My employer and coworkers were wonderfully supportive throughout the whole process, beginning when I returned from lunch announcing that I'd just become a mother and was leaving the state immediately. After we'd returned with our new son, my coworkers threw us a shower. Knowing that my son had a one-year-old cousin and we wouldn't need much beyond diapers, wipes, and formula, they gave us a money tree, a beautiful live bush covered with bills. We were floored and humbled by their generosity. The tacky part? One guest's 8-year-old kept pawing at the bush, announcing "Wow! Here's a twenty!" and so forth, counting the money aloud, taking bills off, putting them in her pocket "pretending" to steal them... while her parents did nothing. The hosts were as paralyzed with shock as we were, and nobody wanted to make more of a scene by corralling the little thief... I went home and spent hours untying more than $300 from the bush, and yes, I hand wrote a thank-you letter expressing my gratitude for my son's warm welcome... but I'll always wonder just how much more generous my coworkers *really* were.



Before I tell this story, I just want to say that people shouldn't say that the people mentioned have bad etiquette simply because they're freshman boys and don't know better; you'd think that after they got in trouble so many times they would mature.

I am a freshman in high school, coming from a law-abiding and law-respecting family ( My father is a police chief, so it's natural). Because of my background, I have grown extremely irritated by people who don't respect rules and regulations.

In my history class I have a teacher who is possibly the nicest guy around. Sure, he's hit a few bumps (his students got him so mad last year that he threw a desk at the biggest jerk in school), but now he's changed. He's very nice to me; he calls me his "Prize Student," "Resident genius," and "Future President" (I plan to run for president when I'm older, although I know I have a long way to go). I asked him if there was anything I could do to apologize for the behavior of my classmates, and he said, "No, your attitude's worth its weight in gold." He deserved respect.

Somehow my classmates don't get that. Since day one, they've thrown things when his back was turned (including snow!), talked back, talked to each other and chewed gum loudly on purpose just to get him mad. Even worse, they're such babies when they get caught and lie about it. Because I often secretly tell my teacher who does what, they also take their rage out on me. They've accused me of throwing things and told a substitute once that I was the worst-behaved kid in class (But I had warned the substitute ahead of time of their behavior, so ha ha). To this day, they've been referred to the office and thrown out of class, but it still won't get into their heads. I'm sick of their behavior.



Once I was riding the New York subway, line 7 into Queens, notably a mixed-ethnicity area. The car was not packed, but all seats were taken. At a certain stop, this ancient Chinese lady, white hair and hunch back, enters accompanied by her two grandsons, let’s say 8 and 12 years old, both loud and overweight. Doors close, maybe one minute passes by, and this decent-looking Latino guy in his 30’s stands up, offering his seat to the old lady. (I really appreciated that, for I know how hard it is to remain polite in this town. I, myself, had thought of offering my seat; though I was far from her, and there were lots of younger people who don’t have my lower-back pain – which at times compels me to remain seated.) Before he could pronounce the due words to the old lady, her loud, chubby, older grandson had already taken the seat. Seeing that, the old lady thanks the Latino guy with a tender smile, due to her almost 90-degree hunch back more looking at the floor than at him. Some seconds elapse before the guy can realize that there is something wrong, and addresses the boy to give his grandma the seat, as intended. Having tried words without success, the Latino guy gently grabs the boy by his arm (much gentler that I would have done), indicating the old lady to sit down. She smiles and thanks him again, bowing repeatedly, while the boy gets revolted, starts pointing a finger at the guy while shouting: “F***er, f***er!”, or “F*** her, f*** her!” – whatever he meant by that was not good. The audience was so mortified that no one could do anything. It may sound cruel, but I could not help start laughing loud and openly, to the unreality of the situation, which was quickly resolved at the next stop, where grandma and kids got off. 



My nephew will celebrate his 11th birthday soon, but there will not be a gift from me.  He is a particularly ungrateful child who expects others to give him what he wants whether he deserves it or not.  I helped him to open a savings account just before Christmas, and gave him $200 to deposit plus a $100 gift certificate.  He barely acknowledged the gift.   Since I am usually at quite a loss as to what I might add to his overflowing toy room, I asked my mom what she was planning to give.  My mother thought she might pay for dog obedience classes, since the boy had recently acquired a new dog.  My sister said that she was not eager to commit every Friday evening for 8 weeks to taking her son to class.  I decided to offer to take the boy and his dog to obedience class for her as my gift to him since the class is not offered again until May. 

On Valentine’s Day, I took a card over to my nephew, who opened it, and after a brief and disappointing search for cash inside the envelope and card, he looked at it off-handedly and tossed it aside.  My sister then told me that the boy had mentioned to her that he didn’t think that my offer of taking him to dog obedience class was “much of a gift,” and how about I take him shopping for some new clothes. She said that he asked to pick out what he wanted, so he would be going with me.  I was a little amazed that she had discussed this with him, so I mentioned to her that I am short of cash and left quickly.  The next day, she left a voice mail suggesting that since I am currently short of cash, I take the boy shopping using the gift certificate I had given him for Christmas.   I mailed my nephew a card that I got free in the mail from the Alzheimer’s foundation.  It’s the thought that counts, and I’m sure that he and my sister will be able to figure out what I am thinking:  it will be a cold day in H*** before I give him another gift.  Unless of course, he learns some basic manners—I’m guessing that the cold day in H will come sooner.



I was a recent college grad who had just moved to a new city when this incident happened, and struck up a friendship with a woman who in the house lived across the way. Ann was divorced and had partial custody of her eight year old daughter.

A few months after becoming friends, Ann, who was in a local play, told me that she had rehearsal on an evening when she had her daughter, and asked if I would watch her kid. I said sure, even though it would be an unpaid job and I was doing it as favor. I offered to pick up dinner for the kid on my way to their house, and also rented three movies to keep the girl, Brianne, entertained as their TV only got local channels (all out of my own pocket).

I arrive at their place at 5:30 p.m. and Ann gives me the phone number and address of the place she'll be at, as well as the cell phone number of another actor (as she didn't own a cell phone). She assures me she'll be back around 11 p.m., depending on how long the director keeps them afterward.

I spend the evening with Brianne, a fantastic kid. She eats the dinner I brought her and we watch a couple of movies while eating candy (that I also bought). We go to the park and play on the jungle gym, play hide and seek and some baseball and then take a walk to my house for some ice cream (from my freezer). We go back to her house where I had left a note on the notepad that we had gone to my house; in case Ann returned in our absence I didn't want to her freak. She hadn't returned, though, and after I have Brianne brush her teeth and change into her pj's, we settle in with another video, and soon Brianne has socked out on her big floor cushion.

11 p.m. comes and goes, and no Ann. I'm not overly concerned, because I figure that the session after the play just took a little while longer or that there was a snag in rehearsal that needed going over. But then 12 p.m. comes and goes. And 1 a.m. By this time I'm concerned. It's 2 a.m. and I call the place where the rehearsal is being held (a hotel). After going through several people, I finally get the hotel manager, and tell her that a theater group was having a rehearsal there, and are they still there? Manager says no, they were done and gone by 10 p.m. I call the cell phone of the other actor, and get his voice mail. I call again, voicemail. And again, voicemail. Brianne is sleeping through all of this, while I wonder what to do. Aside from a few pieces of candy earlier in the evening, I hadn't had anything to eat at all (I'm a vegetarian and there was nothing in the house for me) and was starving. About 4 a.m. I make the decision to take the girl to my house. I wake her and get her coat and shoes on. She's sleepy and wants to know what's going on. I tell her her mom hadn't come home yet; she replies, "Mama said they might take long." I tell her I talked to the people at the hotel and the rehearsal was over hours ago.

I drive Brianne to my house, where she promptly falls asleep in the comfy chair in my living room. I freshen up and try and decide what to do. I finally conclude that, at about 6 a.m., I'll call Brianne's grandmother/Ann's mother (who lives a fair distance away in another town). I figure the kid's safe, so there's no use in waking the grandmother so early and I can easily wait another hour or so for 6 a.m.

That time rolls around, and I call the grandmother. She is not surprised at her daughter's actions, and says she'll be there as soon as she can. I wait for two more hours, sitting up watching TV while Brianne sleeps in the same room. She eventually wakes up, and asks if I'm mad at her mother. "No, I'm disappointed." I tell Brianne it had nothing to do with her, because she was a beautifully behaved kid and I loved spending time with her, but it was sad that her mother did that to both of us.

At about 9 a.m., her grandmother finally arrives to pick up Brianne and take to her house. The grandmother tells me, "What can I say? Ann will have to explain to you herself what she did. I don't know where she is." I understand.

After they leave, I run out to grab some breakfast from a nearby diner, and take it home (my first food in 12+ hours). While I'm eating, the phone rings. It's Ann, her first words are: "Where's my kid?" I tell her at the grandmother's, where is Ann? At a payphone. She has to go and call the grandmother. I go back to finish eating, shower, turn off the phone and go to bed, because I had been up for 24 hours at that point.

When I wake up, I discover several calls from Ann on the caller ID (she called but left no messages). I also discovered Cell Phone Guy called, and got the story from him: the play got over at about 10, and he and Ann went for a drink with some other people (which she expressly said she wouldn't do). Afterward, he offered to drive her home as she had no car (they live in the same area). Ann said no, and asked him to drop her off at the house of an aunt's on a certain street instead. He did so, and found out from Ann's mother the next day that Ann has no relatives in that part of town.

After several days, I finally take Ann's call, and her long convoluted story which I can't even remember: something about getting drunk and not being able to get home. Our friendship cooled, but remained...until about two months later when Ann disappeared for good, literally overnight, abandoning her place with lights on and everything, not taking any clothes, etc. Six months have now gone by, and no one, including her family and daughter, has heard from her.



I can't believe the bad behavior I just witnessed at the grocery store. A couple and their nine year old demon spawn were in the checkout line in front of me. While their order was being rung up, I started unpacking my cart when I noticed DS grabbing the plastic divider that is put between orders. Once he grabbed it he began to beat various things with it including the cart and the conveyor belt before seeing the perfect target -- my loaf of bread from the deli. After causing a few major dents, he moved on to grabbing the cheese I was buying, threw it on the floor and began to kick it about. Mom and Dad appeared oblivious to this all until DS's grand finale. I was wanting to satisfy my sweet tooth and had picked up a couple of oversized sugar cookies with lots of icing from the bakery. Seeing this goodie, he grabs it and starts whining, "Moooooooooom, I want the coooooookie!" Her response was "Sure sweetie, since you've been such a good boy today." I really wish that I could have thought of something good to say to the parents about their child's behavior but I was really just too aghast by it. Once they left, the checker apologized and had another worker grab replacements for the items the child had taken/attempted to destroy. The whole situation would have been slightly mitigated if the mother was by herself; after all I guess that it could be harder to manage an unruly kid while trying to carry out errands. There were two adults there though and one of them should have done something about the kid.



This is for every well-meaning co-worker, friend, aunt, MIL, FIL, cousin, or mere acquaintance that talks with a married person who does not have children...

Do NOT ask why the couple has not had children yet. Do NOT explain that the person in question is not "getting any younger" and should start trying for babies soon. In fact, just ignore it completely. There are many, many people in this world who struggle with infertility and maybe don't want to talk about it. I speak for myself, my husband, and the fourteen other couples in my support group (along with, I assume, every other person in the world who has to deal with this). There is not one of us (men as well as women) who haven't been driven to tears over a thoughtless, throw away comment like, "So, when are you having kids?"

It's not that easy for some of us, and many of us will never get to experience the joy of raising a child. Please, please, think twice before you speak. And if you don't have anything else to say to someone, instead, maybe you could talk about the weather (or don't talk at all).


Page Last Updated May 15, 2007