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
Jan - Jun 2003 Archive

My story has two parts, and starts out with my first marriage several years ago. I was young, and pregnant (not all that big yet mind you), and really naive about military life. I had been befriended by the Major's wife, and she had invited me to some sort of Tupperware/makeup/home decor sort of party. Being that I didn't really know any of the other wives in my husband's company, I thought it would be a good idea for me to go.

I got an invite about a week before the event, complete with directions, and a request for an RSVP. I called to thank the Major's wife for sending the invitation, and told her that I would be there.

Her house was roughly a 1/2 hour drive from mine, and I was NOT familiar with officers housing at all. I left with plenty of time to find the place. I arrived 10 minutes early (much to my own surprise) and went up to the door and rang the bell. It took what seemed like eons for the door to open, and when it did, the 1st Lieutenant's wife (her husband is two ranks under the Major's wife, for those that don't know the ranking system of the army) answered the door. She said "WHO are you?" (imagine snotty tone) I smiled and answered "I'm Specialist Smith's wife, Sue. Nice to meet you." It was met with a "Hummph....WELL. THIS party is for OFFICERS' wives ONLY. I don't know WHO sent you the invite or WHY. Leave or I'm calling the MP's (military police)" and promptly shut the door in my face.

I was hurt and ashamed. I went home in tears. I had called the Major's wife to confirm the invite, and she had said "Great!!! I'm looking forward to having you!" I had been home for about 4 hours, when I got the call from the Major's wife, asking if I had gotten lost. She said that she missed me at the party as there had been other wives there that she wanted to introduce me to, and give me a "formal welcome to the company". I told her that I had gotten there 10 minutes early, but was asked to leave (I made no mention of the snotty tone, or the fact that the MP's had been threatened on me). She said "Oh, it must have been Lieutenant Jones' wife that answered the door." She made no attempt of an apology for the behavior that I had encountered, but did go on to say that "Most enlisted wives don't get invited to officers houses very often, you should feel lucky that you even got invited."

Several months later, I was invited to a "social" at the Captain's house, at the request of his wife. I politely declined with the pretense that I had been invited to my grandmother's house for the weekend (not entirely untrue due to the fact that grandma says I can visit her any time that I wish). She said "Oh, it must be that 'incident' at the Major's house. Its ok, we really didn't want you to show up anyway." Needless to say, I did not attend any functions where I had been invited by an officer's wife.

Second part of my story happened not too long ago. I have since gotten remarried (less than a year ago, after a 6 year gap between marriages) and much to my surprise (and everyone else's) I married back into army life. My current husband is in a different company altogether, and I thought that this time, things would be different. I thought wrong.

My husband was deployed for a training mission that was supposed to last roughly 35 days. Because of the war, he was detained for an extra two months, and came home 85 days after he left. While he was gone, I had no contact with the "wives' chain of concern" nor had I been contacted by the Family Readiness Group (FRG). I didn't know that I was supposed to be contacted by either.

The day before my husband was due to come home (I had a little bit of advance warning, my husband called me and said we will be home "sometime within this time frame") I got a call from another wife in the group. She was extremely pleasant, and told me when to be up at the company to be reunited with my husband. We talked for an hour, and during that time, she asked me how many times FRG had called to help me or to check up on me. I told her "none, I didn't know they were supposed to" she said, "oh, so you didn't go to the meetings?" I told her I didn't even know that there *had* been meetings. I didn't really get bent out of shape, they probably didn't have my new phone number (we had recently moved to post). She said she was looking forward to meeting me in person the next day, and bid farewell.

About two hours later, I got another phone call. This time from the Command Sergeant Major's (highest ranking enlisted soldier) wife. We will call her "Susan". I answered the phone and she seemed really snotty, which I chalked up to her being busy. "Mrs. A, this is Susan, the CSM's wife. I wanted to let you know that the guys will be in around 6:30 in the morning, and you HAVE to be there at 5:00 WITH some sort of dessert so they have something to munch on while they get their gear." I said thank you, and asked why there was such a time difference in what she had to say and what I had been told two hours earlier...was there some sort of change in plans?? "NO!!" she screamed, "Who else has been calling you!?!?!?!" Seeing where this was going, I told her that "it was just another wife" and she DEMANDED to have the name of the person that had already called me. I Politely told her that I wasn't going to name names if she was going to get yelled at for calling me. It was met with a rant. Something along the lines of "WHO is your point of contact and WHY didn't THEY call you!?!?! I can't believe this, she had no right to call you!!! Why weren't you at any of the FRG meetings?!?!" At which time I told her that I had not been told who my point of contact was and I had no idea why they didn't call me. I asked her if it was wrong for one of my friends to call me and let me know when they were coming in, and informed her that I didn't go to the FRG meetings because no one had told me when and where they were going to be. I got screamed at again, this time for not "being more involved" with the unit, to which I countered that I had not been invited to anything, and didn't think it was polite to crash parties. Then she got REALLY snotty with me and told me that no one had offered to bring chocolate chip cookies for the guys and that was what I HAD to bring. I had had just about enough. I thanked her for her time, did not commit myself to making cookies, and hung up.

I don't understand how someone can be that rude to another person that they have never met....but I did find out later that it was SUSAN's job to make the calls about the FRG meetings. I was upset at this because of the tirade that I got from her about not going. Since then, Susan had decided that she wants to throw me a baby shower....and I'm trying really hard to find a polite way of getting out of it, being that I already have one child, and am not too fond of going to showers of any type (I have plenty of etiquette hell stories on those too...Keep your eyes peeled.).

Plain Tacky 0804-03

First, let me say how entertaining and informative your website is. Some of your readers may wonder if the more outrageous stories are true but I sure don't. I know how amazingly rude people can be, because the following story is absolutely true.

Several years ago my brother was hospitalized for several weeks with a serious illness. His condition was so grave he was on a respirator for a time. My entire family flew to the city where he lived to be with him, staying in a nearby hotel and spending our days at the hospital. Because all his siblings have jobs and families and live far away, and because our parents are both still employed and live far away as well, we couldn't all stay with him the entire time, but took turns flying in and out and being with him. Of course, his own wife lived in the same town, in the same house, which my brother owned (he bought it before their marriage). But my horrible sister-in-law only came to see my brother, her husband, in the hospital ONCE, on the day he was admitted. She then declared, through her tears, that it was "just too difficult to see him like this" and disappeared! He was in the hospital literally for months, and she was MIA. We called and asked her to come, but she refused. Then my parents when over to their house (my brother's house) to demand that she go see him, but she refused to their faces. They also noticed that the house was filthy and the living room full of overflowing ashtrays and empty beer cans. 

Once it was clear Brother was getting better, my parents (who were with him at the time) had to go home. Another brother was flying in a couple days later, but Ill Brother recovered so quickly (once he was recovering) that he ended up being discharged on a day when no family was in town. So he called his wife for a ride home. She said she was going to lunch with some friends, but she'd be by to pick him up when they got done, and he should just wait in the lobby of the hospital! Weak and exhausted, he then called a taxi to take him home. When he arrived, he found the house filthy just as my parents had seen, but also found that in his absence SHE HAD MOVED ANOTHER MAN INTO HIS HOUSE! Shaving stuff in the bathroom, clothes in the closet and on the floor in the master bedroom, the whole nine yards. Not surprisingly, shortly thereafter Brother got a divorce. This made his physical recovery more difficult because, no matter how richly deserved, a divorce is almost always a painful process. Throughout the divorce proceedings, my ex-SIL kept calling him and telling him how much she loved him and how sorry she was, but some things you just can't forgive. Brother is now married to a wonderful woman who is amazed at how awful his first wife was.

Plain Tacky 0916-03

My boyfriend and I were at a very nice, upscale restaurant for our anniversary. By upscale, I mean dresses or pantsuits for the women, suits for all the men. I suddenly notice a family being seated in a booth across the way. It was the end of fall and temperatures in Toronto at that time are quite chilly. The mother and two children were dressed in shorts and t-shirts, the father in overalls. Okay, I'm thinking tourists, fine. But then I see the mother kicking off her shoes...then the rest of the family. Not one of them was wearing any socks. I'm at a really nice restaurant, I don't need to see other people's feet while I'm trying to eat. That isn't the worst part. The mother then proceeds to put her foot up on the bench and clean out her toenails with her thumbnail. She then flicks whatever she finds onto the carpet. Can you say "Eeeeewwww?" I finally pointed the family out to our waitress who watches for a minute and was grossed out herself. She was mortified and had the manager go and tell them that removing their shoes was a health violation for the restaurant. The woman got all huffy but her husband made her and the rest of them comply. The manager was so nice, he came over and apologized profusely to us and offered us a free dessert but my appetite was totally spoiled.
Plain Tacky 0901-03

Early into the relationship with my future wife (we'll call her, "Mary"), we were invited to a birthday party being held by a friend of mine ("Jane"). Jane had a sister ("Amy") who I was also friends with, and Amy in turn invited her own boyfriend ("Mike") to go to the party. We were told to meet at the restaurant at 6.30pm sharp as reservations had been made and it was a large party (15-20 people) given the restaurant's size.

When Mary and I got to the restaurant at around 6.15, the only people I recognized were Amy and Mike. There was no sign of either Jane or any of the other guests that had been invited. In addition, we discovered the restaurant had a very exotic menu, and being meat-and-potatoes people, neither Mary nor myself were particularly thrilled with the options we were going to have to work with. All that being said, we were early, and since this was Jane's birthday, we would manage with the menu the best we could. The four of us (me, Mary, Amy, and Mike) decided to wait for everybody else by the restaurant's bar. Little did we know nobody else would show up for the next two hours.

By around 8.15, Jane finally appeared. She told was she was planning to be on time, but on the way to the restaurant, she got dirt on the outfit she was going to wear and had to go home and change. I didn't buy the story for a second as Jane lived less than 30 minutes away from the restaurant, but again, I reminded myself that it was Jane's birthday and to let it slide. Mike curtly informed Jane that we lost the reservation and that nobody else had shown up. Jane replied that some of her friends (i.e., everybody else) told her earlier they weren't going to be able to make it to the restaurant until 8.30 earliest. At this point, Mike and I nearly lost it, but Amy quickly suggested we wait until the other people showed up and then find somewhere else to eat. Since it was almost 8.30, I told Jane I would agree as long as we went to a restaurant with a less exotic cuisine.

By 9.30 nobody else turned up. Mike looked like he was going to explode, Amy was embarrassed by the whole situation, Mary was clearly irritated, and I though this was the end of my brief relationship with Mary. Jane on the other hand, was completely ambivalent to the situation and periodically made calls on the restaurant's house phone. Finally, she got off the phone and announced the party had been moved to a different restaurant. The icing on the cake was the new restaurant Jane picked out had the exact same cuisine as the one we were currently standing in!

As we left the restaurant, Mike and I snapped at the exact same time. We told her it was unfair for her to not tell us the original time had changed, and considering we were the only people to show up, not take into account our request for a different cuisine choice at the next restaurant. Jane ignored us, hailed a cab, got in, and said "Are you coming?" I kissed her on the cheek goodnight and that was the last time I ever spoke with Jane.

Much to my amazement, my relationship with Mary survived the night.

Plain Tacky 1215-03

This story is about The Moving Day From Hell. There was a point in my younger days when moving day meant friends and a U-Haul truck. The unspoken rules were simple: friends pitched in, assuming a lot of heavy lifting and letting the "host" know ahead of time whether they were available to load, unload or for the full day. In return, the host was expected to be packed and ready (a little bit of last minute cleaning and packing was okay) and have cold drinks on hand. At the end of the move, the host provided food, usually in the form of pizza and beer, for whoever was still around.

Soon after my husband and I were married, a good friend of ours was moving from the large city we all lived in out to the suburbs. She asked around for help and my husband and I, our friend "Andy" and another guy, "Tom", all agreed. Now, "Alice" was renting the lower level of a group house. She had a large room that functioned as both her bedroom and as her home office where she ran a business as a graphic designer. I should point out here that Alice is a nice, fun person but rather flaky: the type that plans wonderful, creative parties but forgets about the practical details. So I guess we really should have expected what followed.

The day of her move was in August and proved to be the worst sort of weather but typical for our city: extremely hot (about 100 degrees) and extremely humid. My husband and I picked Andy up and were met at the door by Andy, laughing and shaking his head, telling us that Alice had called a few minutes ago and requested that we bring cold drinks, cups, etc. with us. Apparently she didn't think of this until the last minute and figured we could just take care of it. We stopped at a store, bought what we thought we'd need, and headed over to her house.

Of course, this made us about a 1/2 hour later than we'd planned. We arrived at her house to find that her housemates had all moved out already and, as the last one to go, Alice said it was her responsibility to run around spackling nail holes, taking down all curtains and blinds, etc. Apparently her housemates hadn't bothered to do any of this, even in their own rooms. Alice told us she and Tom were going to do this task and asked us to go down to her room to work on her stuff. We got down there and discovered that nothing had been packed. NOTHING. Her bed was still made up. Clothes on the floor, books on shelves, etc. Her home office area, all her art supplies, everything was still set up for work, computer still plugged in.

I ran back upstairs and insisted Alice come down and tell us what she wanted done. She came down with me but basically kept trying to shrug us off, telling us to "just put everything in boxes" like this was no big deal. Then she ran back upstairs to work with Tom. Andy, my husband and I were so disgusted. We started out trying to pack neatly but of course this was taking forever, it was hot and uncomfortable (no air conditioning) and we were feeling really aggravated about having to spend extra hours doing this stuff. Pretty soon we were just throwing things in boxes without worrying about labeling or order. It took forever. The only refreshments were the drinks we had brought. We never saw Alice or Tom the entire time (I have no idea why it took the two of them all day to spackle nail holes). Finally we finished and got everything into the U-Haul Alice had hired (Andy had to run out in the middle of packing to pick it up) as well as our cars since it didn't all fit in the truck. We got everything over to her new place and unloaded as quickly as we could.

At this point, it was getting on toward evening, still hot and muggy and we were getting pretty cranky. We had just spent eight solid hours helping Alice move. I think Alice was starting to sense that we were upset but I swear to this day she still doesn't understand why. When we finally finished she did say thanks and ordered Chinese delivery but it had been such a long tiring day at that point, we just wanted to go home and collapse.

Plain Tacky 1028-03

A couple we knew --- he more than she, and neither of them well --- sent out preprinted postcards. They had computer-generated labels on them, and we know people from California to Maine who received them, so the database must've been large.

I've altered the actual place names, but the rest of the verbiage is just as it was printed. I later found out that the announcement was the brainchild of the wife. Here goes:

We are pleased to announce that on July 1, 1994, we will be moving into our new 9,500 square foot house in the exclusive gated community of Devonshire Estates.  Our new address will be 111 Impressedyet Ln., Werich, New York.

Gales of laughter could be heard from sea to shining sea when these little numbers started showing up in people's mailboxes.  The couple separated within a year of the announcement, and as might be  expected, the property battle was fierce.

Plain Tacky 0807-03

I'm not sure which category this should go under, but here it is anyway. In college, I used to babysit for a family with 3 kids. The three boys were fine, but their parents were something else! We'll call them Tom and Kris. Well, one weekend Kris goes out of town for a friend's bachelorette party in Las Vegas and asks me to watch her kids that Friday night because Tom wanted a night out with the guys.

Tom is a younger guy, in his early 30's I guess. He met up with 3 of his buddies around 6:00 p.m. to catch dinner, and then head to the bars for a few hours. So I put the kids to bed at their normal time, around 10, and park on the couch to watch TV until he makes it home. He then calls me at 2am to tell me he is too drunk to drive home that night, which he obviously is, by the way he is slurring his words, outrageously flirting with me on the phone, telling me I'm his new best friend. He gets a conspiratorial voice, saying, now we're not going to tell Kris, right? C'mon, you're the best, etc. etc. I try to be as easygoing on the phone as I can, because I do not want him to get in the car and try to drive home. I'm also not too sure I want to be "alone" in a house with him and possibly some of his drunk friends in the middle of the night! So as I'm trying to fall asleep on the couch, after many minutes of calming the drunk, I get another phone call. It was not Tom, but someone who knew my name and where I was. His friends were passing around the cell phone with the house number on it, making "inappropriate suggestions", asking if I was lonely ... you get the idea. Now I was starting to get scared! Well, you can just imagine the scenario, and this went on for another hour until they got tired of the game. Terrified, I tried to sleep.

Well, at 7 am when Tom gets home, still drunk, he apparently decides that I shouldn't get paid my entire hourly rate, since I was sleeping for some of the time! I'm generally pretty passive, but after all I had been through, I let him know subtly that this would not be appropriate, I actually expected a bonus or something! He grudgingly gave me a little more money, and started wheedling me about my promise of secrecy from his wife. I didn't care, I just wanted to get out of there, and never see him again. Well, the funny thing was, when Kris called me next weekend to babysit (I swear, it was the very next weekend!), she told me Tom would be out of town, and she needed me because she wanted to go out with her girlfriends! I agreed since they paid me well, and he would not be there. When I got there, she was dressed like ... what's a PC word for it? ... well, she looked like she wanted to "get some" that night. So did her married best friend. When they came home drunk at 3am, 2 hours after the promised time, with excuses of construction and traffic delays (at 3am???) I just had to laugh. It is so sad that the two of them thought they could have a "marriage" based on sneaking around and trying to act like 21-year-olds, when they are both in their 30s with 3 kids! I guess they were made for each other. 

Plain Tacky 0807-03

I'm not sure which section this would go into, but I just had to submit this. About 8 months ago, I was in a shopping mall when I saw someone who trains in my class looking highly distressed. Her husband had hit her and she'd lost something quite valuable and she was so upset that I stayed to talk to her and to help her look. As such, I nearly missed my own wedding proposal (I knew it was coming and landed up being late because I couldn't just leave her there - thankfully, my fiancé is a very understanding man).

So for the next few months, I spent a lot of time with her, counseling and listening. She is a housewife and married to a man who earns a large sum of money, but she doesn't spend much time with him and comes from an abusive background (as do I), so I tried to help wherever I could.. My fiancé is a student, I am a secretary, studying part time, and we are not well off. This becomes important later.

Whenever she was bored, she would call me up and I had to drop everything to go entertain her, she demanded a lot of my time and I gave it, gladly. After all, that's what friends do. We didn't go out often, as I couldn't afford it, but I would often buy lunch or something, and she did the same.

Then, about three months ago, I was in the middle of moving house - I'd taken 2 days off work and was desperately trying to get sorted in that time. She had a really bad headache and needed to go to her doctor - her doctor was about 35km's away, but he was the only one she trusted. She had apparently called everyone she knew and now she wanted to know if I could give her a lift.

My car wasn't running very well at the time, the front car seat had just broken and, because of a paint job, it had to go through roadworthy again, so I wasn't allowed to drive it on the road. Knowing that we would be taking many highways, I asked if I could take her in her car. She agreed.

I got to her house, and we headed to the doctor. After the doctor, she wanted to go cancel an appointment and asked if I could take her there. I did. Then she needed to stop to look at light I took her there. I had a lunch appointment with my fiancé, but called to let him know I was going to be late. He understood.

Later, I found out that she was telling everyone how selfish and greedy I was because I *insisted* on using her car. She then also phoned my fiancé and lambasted him for everything that we had ever done - from bringing *cheap* stuff when we came over to her house for dinner - we usually brought drinks, something for a starter and flowers, and cooked the meal, and went on about what a demanding friend *I* was.

I was completely flabbergasted and will not waste my time with her again!

Plain Tacky 1219-03

Working in food service allows me to hone my customer service skills in hopes that it might help me in a future career someday. As a college student, I work in a food kiosk in one of my university's many food courts. I have seen my share of bad customers but this one really takes the cake.

It was about one hour to closing time when a customer came into our food kiosk, chatting away on her cellular phone. I had a hard time trying to get her order because she was too busy blabbing away on her cell.

She finally placed an order and as I was ringing her up on the register, she called, of all people, HER MOTHER and started a conversation with her. I reminded her that next time she comes in to order, she should finish her phone conversation. She smiled and was polite about it but I still will not forget seeing this airhead come in, expecting to be served while she was mindlessly carrying on a conversation that could've waited until after she played her order.

Plain Tacky 0826-03

I was behind a lady in line at a bookstore. She had a large stack of books, and was using a gift card. Now, some people think gift certificates are tacky in and of themselves, but I think it’s fun to be able to pick something you wouldn’t otherwise buy, and the gift you select for yourself still gives you happy thoughts of the giver.

The clerk rang up the purchases and said "That’ll be $195.04." The customer handed over her gift card "Oh, $200, that’s nice," said the clerk. She swiped the card and said "And your remaining total is $190.88." "WHAT?" cried the customer "I had a $200 gift card…" She figured out that her aunt had given her a USED gift card, with less than $5 left on it. I HOPE that the aunt just accidentally gave her niece a card she’d already had, instead of the one she’d bought especially for the niece, but I doubt it. It’s not just the amount of the gift, it’s the fact that she had to leave all her books and apologize to the clerk (who was very sympathetic). What an embarrassing position to be in!

Plain Tacky 0911-03

I don't know if this story will pale in comparison to some of the others you have received or even make it on to the Ehell site(excellent by the way), but it happened to me not so long ago and I was disgusted.

My high school ball was around three months away, and I was excited about all the planning that was going into it and had arranged for my dress, hair, makeup and particularly partner. Now for the guts of it.

I was at a movie when I ran into an old acquaintance. This girl I had not seen for some time, and in most of our previous encounters she had been extremely negative and rude to me. She greets me politely and then starts a conversation, My gut instinct was 'What does she want?' since her previous behavior had been less than friendly to me. Well pretty soon she asks about the ball. It turns out one of my other girlfriends is taking her, since she left our school last year. Then she asks if I could possible take HER fiancé as MY partner, so she could be with him! (The implication being that I would obviously not have a partner!) I politely declined, taking some pleasure in the fact that I could say I already had a partner, but without, I feel, being rude or tactless in any way.

Fast forward to the ball....

She starts flirting with my partner (whom fortunately I did not have in interest in) and ends up close dancing with him for the last song!

I resisted asking after her fiancé. I'm not sure if my partner knew she was engaged or not.

Plain Tacky 1201-03

Page Last Updated May 15, 2007