Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sport Spectator Etiquette

Dear Mrs. McVeigh,

Now that the fall sports season is here, please remind your readers of some basic etiquette guidelines for those spectators who are there to enjoy the games. Here are some of my pet peeves.

• Standing up in front of everyone and blocking the view of those behind you. (You don't see people standing up in their seats at the movies.)
• Talking loud on your cell phone.
• Yelling at the referees during the game.
• Yelling at one of the players during the game.
• Coaching from the parents during the game.

• Letting small children run wild.
• Booing the opposing team.

A Sports Fan

Birthday Party Punishment

Dear Mrs. McVeigh,

I have a child who has demonstrated some naughty behavior over the past two days, which has not been remediated by our discipline strategies. She was told that if her behavior did not change, she would not be permitted to engage in any fun activities this weekend. The behavior worsened, so she lost her fun activities. The problem is one of the activities was a birthday party on Saturday that I already committed to attending. I always tell the kids that I mean what I say and I say what I mean, but now what? Is there an etiquette rule about such situations? I hate to leave the birthday child and the birthday parents in the lurch, but I also hate to look like a flaky blow-hard in my child's eyes. Thanks for any clarification you can provide.

Best wishes,
Rude, but Well-Meaning Mama

Dear Well-Meaning Mama,
I think that it is fine taking away the birthday party. The parents of the birthday child should understand. You can take it a step further by having your child go to the birthday child's house either before or after the party and apologize to the birthday child and parents for not attending. She can then explain why she suddenly cannot attend, and she can give the child the present. This will make a big impact on her, and she will think twice about her behavior. It will also teach her about RSVP/party etiquette.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Controversial Mayor’s Death

Dear Mrs. McVeigh,
I have two questions about the passing of the mayor who shot her daughter and then herself. The first question is should there be two memorial services/funerals or one for both of them? The second is that the city that she was the mayor of is flying flags half-mast in her honor at their City Hall. Since it is a murder/suicide do you think this is right?

Dear Anonymous,
It is up to the family of the deceased if there are one or two memorial services for the mayor and her daughter. It is the preference of what the family needs in order to deal with this very sad tragedy. As for the flying of the flags half-mast, she was a public official who passed away, and the cause of her death does not come into play for the tradition of the flags flying.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Mother in law and Friend Financial Issues

Dear Mrs. McVeigh,
I have recently learned in a round-about-way that some friends of ours are having financial problems. I want to say something to them, to offer to help, or just be there for them emotionally. They have never said anything to me or my husband, which surprises me since we typically discuss all of our personal matters. My question to you is would it be inappropriate to bring up the subject? If we can bring it up, how would you suggest that we do this?
Wanting to Help

Dear Wanting to Help,
It is very nice of you to want to help your friends. I would not bring it up directly at all. If they have not mentioned it to you, then I would not say anything about it. The only thing that would be appropriate is to ask your friend(s) to coffee or dinner, and to ask in general how everything is going. This will then give your friend an opportunity to bring it up (or not). If she says everything is fine, or discusses something other than her finances, leave it at that. It is very nice of you to want to help them out, but if you want to be a true friend, act like you never found out that they were having financial trouble, and keep the information to yourself.

Dear Mrs. McVeigh,
My mother-in-law is very nice in the fact that she loves to give me little trinkets all of the time. The problem is that I do not like them, and prefer to have a clutter free home. I think she thinks that I need decorating help, and is trying to do me a favor. I do not want to offend her, but it is really stressing me out. Every time she comes over, I feel like I need to dig them out and put them on display. What should I do? I am trying to be a good daughter-in-law, but these well-intended trinkets are invading my space!
Ungrateful Trinket Receiver

Dear Ungrateful,
I understand your dilemma, and appreciate that you are trying hard to not hurt your mother-in-laws feelings, since in-law relationships are typically very fragile. I would not feel obligated to display the items at all. It is your house, and when someone gives you a gift, it is yours to do what you would like to with it.

If your mother-in-law ever questions you about it, (which would not be good manners), I would tell her that you are rethinking your spaces, and wanted a clean start, and you have not decided what items you will put back out. Hopefully she will get the hint, and not continue to buy you these types of items.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Wrong name etiquette and cell phone etiquette

Dear Ms. McVeigh,I was introduced to a parent at my child’s school at the beginning of the school year, and the name that stuck in my mind after I met her is not really her name. It was several months of calling her this name when I would run into her, did I finally figure out that I was calling her the wrong name. I ended up acknowledging my error to her, and apologizing to her. I wondered why she never corrected me. I can only assume that she thought it would have been rude. My questions to you are first, what is the etiquette on correcting someone when they call you by the wrong name, and two, how would you have handled it if you were me?
Jennifer J.

Dear Jennifer,
The official rule of etiquette is to correct a person when he or she calls you by the wrong name. It makes a lot of people uncomfortable to do this, but in the long run it could save a lot of confusion and embarrassment on the other person’s part. The longer it goes the more uncomfortable it gets, so definitely correct the person as soon as possible.

If you are the one who called someone by the wrong name, and you are uncomfortable about confronting the person, I would just start calling him or her by the correct name the next time you see the person. You did a great thing by admitting your error to her and apologizing. I am sure this was not easy to do, so I admire you for handling it this way.

Dear Mrs. McVeigh,

When someone is talking on his phone, and is checking out at a store, do you think it matters or not? Is it rude or offensive to the employee checking you out? Are there different rules for the grocery store, opposed to a department store, such as Neiman Marcus?
Curious Cell Phone User

Dear Curious Cell Phone User,
If I was on my cell phone while I was interacting with an employee, I would feel very disrespectful to him or her. It does not matter if you are going through the drive through line at the dry cleaners, or checking out at the grocery store, or at a nice department store. I think the rule of etiquette is that you get off your phone once it is your turn to check out. If there is a reason that you can not get off the phone, ask the caller to hold for a moment when you first see the employee, tell him hello, and apologize that you are on the phone. I think checkers and sales people deserve our respect. Taking on the phone while they are taking care of you is rude and disrespectful.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Elise McVeigh's Life Camp Column - Thank you notes

Dear Mrs. McVeigh,
I exchanged gifts with an in-law at Christmas, and I need to start off by crediting her for writing me a thank you note. The issue is the note that she wrote me was very honest, to the point that I found it a little offensive. In the note she thanked me for the gift. She then said that she started to look at it, but got distracted, and never saw what it was. She then went onto say that she left it at the relative’s house that we exchanged our gifts. On the positive side, she said that she appreciated my thoughtfulness. What is your take on this note?

Dear Anonymous,
That is a unique thank you note. I would have handled the situation differently than your relative did. I always tell my manners’ students that you need to be specific about what the gift is in a thank you note. I will make an exception in this case. I would have written it the following way:

Dear XYZ,
Thank you so much for the gift that you gave me for Christmas. I really appreciate the thought that you put into choosing it for me.
I enjoyed spending the holidays with you. I look forward to our next family get together.

This is shorter and less specific than I typically like to write, but it is still honest, without being offensive. The next time I would see this in-law, I would mention verbally how I have used the gift, since I was unable to do this in the note. Hopefully she will retrieve the gift from the relative’s house by the time you see her again, and tell you specifically how she has enjoyed and used your gift.

Dear Mrs. McVeigh,
When is it (if ever) too late to write a thank you note?

Dear Anonymous,
It is never too late to write a thank you note to someone. I would rather receive one late, then not at all. It will also make you feel better that you wrote it.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Elise McVeigh's Life Camp Column

Dear Mrs. McVeigh,
I attend a large church, and one of the items in our church yearly church auction is bidding on reserving a pew for the holiday services. I noticed this year that a man and his young son were sitting in the reserved seats. The family who then won the right to the seats arrive a little later and piled into the pew. It was a bit of a tight fit for all of them to get in the pew, and it soon became apparent to me that the man who was there first did not purchase the pew. He stayed there even after it appeared that the family nicely told him that they had the pew reserved. He did not get up and move until after one of the family members discreetly spoke to an usher. The usher ended up finding the man and his little boy a new seat. Do you think they should have let him stay there? It is a church, and there was a small child involved.
Curious Church Goer

Dear Curious Church Goer,
I agree with the family who bid on the seats. They purchased this item at the auction for the purpose of arriving to the church at their convenience, and having seats for their whole family. The gentleman who was there first should have immediately moved after he realized his error. Even though he had a child with him, I think the usher did the right thing by finding them new seats.

Dear Mrs. McVeigh,
I did some extensive traveling over the holidays, and went to several large cities. While in these cities, our main transportation was subways and buses. I was very surprised that people did not offer their seats to older people, and pregnant ladies. I offered my seat to them every time, and my kids asked me why. Does etiquette not dictate that we offer our seats to ladies and the elderly anymore? I was trying to not only do what I think is right, but also set a good example for my kids. What is the deal? I am female and offered my seat to pregnant ladies and older people, so shouldn’t men step up and do the same? Is this just a southern thing, or am I being ridiculously old fashioned? What is the current rule about this?

Dear P.T.,
Good for you for setting such a great example to your children, and to other people. Etiquette still says that gentlemen should offer their seats to ladies, and others who need a seat more than they need it. (It does not matter what part of the country, or the world, that you live in. It is a universal etiquette rule in my opinion.) It is very disappointing to hear that people do not have the same kind of manners that you have. I don’t care what culture you live in – when a woman is pregnant, she really needs to sit down, and the elderly are tired, and deserve a seat as well. As for gentleman giving their seat up to any lady, pregnant or not, I still think they should offer.

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