Random Bits of Etiquette

I picked up the habit of sharing well-meaning, unsolicited advice from my well-meaning German grandmother. You can probably thank her for the following items.

Bringing Money Anywhere

When you go out somewhere with friends or family (event, restaurant, saloon), do you make the assumption that someone else will pick up the tab? Helpful bit of advice: don’t.

While I know that cash is becoming an endangered species, it is still appreciated. Have some with you. Or a debit/credit card. Wherever you go, if you’re with a group, expect that you’ll have to pay your own way, and if you brought a traveling companion, that you will pay for them as well.

There are always exceptions: prepaid events, open bars, invitations where the host(ess) has stated up front that s/he will pay. Even then, if you haven’t paid in advance, bring moneyI’ve bailed out a few friends over the years–nothing major, and I didn’t demand that they repay me immediately afterward (“You owe me drinks next time!”). That’s not to say the situation didn’t rankle. It did. Don’t be that guy/gal. Bring money. Or, if you can’t afford it, don’t go.

Don’t Be a Jerk to Service Personnel

I spent my early career (high school through post-college) in the service industry, so this has probably made me sensitive to this issue. But really, if you’re having a bad day at the office or your blind date isn’t going well or you’re out with clients, there is absolutely no need to insult, condescend to, or berate a bartender, restaurant server, bellman, or other random stranger with a necktie and a name tag unless they attacked you in some way first.

I’m really not certain why, but some people think it’s amusing to abuse service personnel, especially when the customer knows they are not allowed to fight back or they’ll lose their job. A lot of hospitality employees are making less-than-minimum wage and depending on tips to pay their bills. Yes, those tips depend on their level of service, and they don’t deserve a great one if their service is awful. However, making them “work for it” by forcing them to smile in the face of deliberate insults is uncalled-for, and quite frankly rude.

And if you think I’m speaking from personal experience, I’m not. I’ve never worked in a tipped position. I’m just sayin’. It’s the service industry, not the servant industry.

Know What to Expect When You Go to the Airport

If you’ve never traveled by commercial aviation before, or if you have and keep acting surprised when certain things happen, allow me to help:

  • You show your driver’s license when you check in/drop off your luggage. You can get your boarding pass at a kiosk before checking your luggage.
  • When you get to the TSA checkpoint, you show your driver’s license and boarding pass. Once you’ve passed the people in the bright blue uniforms, put your ID and boarding pass away. You don’t need it to go through the full-body scanner.
  • Don’t bring any bottles of liquid/gels (e.g. suntan lotion) with a full capacity of more than 4 ounces. You might have one ounce left in your 8-ounce toothpaste, but if the container size says 8 ounces, the TSA will take your toothpaste. Yes, it’s stealing. No, you can’t do anything about it.
  • Yelling at or insulting TSA personnel will ensure that, at the very least, you will miss your plane.
  • When you get on the plane and they announce that it’s time to shut the boarding door, you turn off your cell phone. You don’t hide it, you don’t ignore the flight attendants, you turn the bloody thing OFF. They can and will throw you off the plane if you don’t do what they tell you to do. You might not like that any more than having your toothpaste confiscated, but that’s more or less the law here now. Welcome to the reality of “homeland security.”
  • Don’t get intoxicated beyond the point of all reason, say, to the point where you’re insulting or being otherwise rude to the flight attendants (see my previous note above). The airlines and the FAA have zero patience these days, and they will turn the plane around or land it early to throw you off the plane. Oh yes, and you probably won’t be getting any holiday cards from your fellow passengers, either.

Honestly, I’m baffled by unprovoked rudeness sometimes. Am I completely immune? Probably not, but I also don’t let myself get to the point of being “disciplined” by airline staff or the TSA.

The world’s a harsh place sometimes. Give “nice” or at least “polite” a chance. Anyone else need this soapbox? I’m done with it for the moment.

About Bart Leahy

Freelance Technical Writer, Science Cheerleader Event & Membership Director, and an all-around nice guy. Here to help.
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