Tag: manners

everything I ever needed to know about ETIQUETTE, I learned from Grand… and promptly gave a middle finger to it (g2)

Growing up, I was pushed to read advice on manners from Edith Head.

  • I know the difference between a ham and tomato fork.
  • I know the proper time to put your napkin in your lap when dining.
  • I know the difference between a champagne flute, a red wine glass, a white wine glass, a brandy sniffer, sherry glass, etc.
  • I know that ladies are to sit with their knees together and ankles crossed, and a gentleman never sits down at a table first with a lady present.

Grand wanted to be money. Grand wanted status and prestige. Grand opted to marry for love, spent their entire life just scraping by and resenting their spouse and four children for not being more. There was an unspoken law that I, as Grand’s do-over, was somehow supposed to rectify that in a manner to which they planned to become accustomed.

Grand resented the sister who married for love and got both love and money. They didn’t speak for many years because of it. If her sister wanted to share vacation pictures, she was “rubbing it in my face,” according to Grand. Grand was not the type of person who could be happy for anyone doing better than they were.

Grand resented there were no “coming out” parties for their two daughters. They could never be “debs.” My aunt, the eldest daughter, who thinks eerily the same as Grand and will bite the head off anyone who suggests it, probably still resents never being a “deb” too.

When I was little, I thought manners were essential to establish a set of rules in civility in dealing with other people. A way to properly make someone feel welcome and regarded. The strict rules were there to ensure no one was misunderstood or took offense. Boy, was I deluded…

The older I got, the more I came to realize that with Grand and most who preached etiquette, they had no sense of humanity. They might know the right things to do and made all the motions, but with smirks and sidelong glances to one another to assure themselves of their own superiority. Kind words so dripping with honey, you just knew it was laced with poison.

In the South, old money is the best, new money gets you in the door, fuck up your salad and dinner fork or have the audacity to tuck your napkin in your shirt collar and you’re done.

Etiquette was simply a weapon with which to ostracize those deemed “lesser” from their lack of knowledge of its rules. If you dared to drink out of your finger bowl or not realize how to use a shrimp fork, you were considered garbage. Put that pinky up with your tea and you may as well be a street walker.

The older I got, the more I pushed away from Grand and their philosophies on life. Most of them just felt dark and ugly. I was terribly slow about rebelling against Grand, and it would be in subtle ways that made it hard to punish.

I hit my teens just as the Grunge era was becoming big across the rest of the US. Men and women wore pretty much the same thing, tights, flannel, lots of oversized shirts, ripped jeans and shorts, skirts and kilts. I shaved the back of my head, let the rest grow longer, dyed it a new color every week. It was easier to ask forgiveness than permission, but I was getting to a point I asked for neither.

Damn, I still miss the clothes!

Grand networked for status, or tried to. If Grand didn’t have money to break into the society, at least they would have the impression of having had money. I was forced into dinners with people as artificial as Grand while they fake-smiled the shit out each other and lied about their own importance. I often asked embarrassing questions, or made remarks cutting down whatever farce Grand was trying to sell. At first it was unconscious then migrated to scathingly intentional. I chewed with my mouth open. If it was seafood, I demanded a mallet. I blew my nose at the table, picked my teeth with my fork. Edith Head and Grand both could shove it up their asses.

I was never allowed in the living room growing up, and later only for functional purposes (i.e. cleaning). It was separate from the den and was strictly for welcoming and entertaining “special guests.” Grand was quite proud of this room and only allowed those most valuable to stay in it for any length.

Occasionally, Grand wanted someone to brag on and being the only kin in the house, I was drug out to meet whoever it was Grand wanted to impress. I was overall a good student with a promising art skill and penchant for foreign exchange trips. However, I was especially fond of sporting a mini-skirt with some loud boxers during these introductions, I would intentionally sit in such a way both Grand and the guest were in full view of some serious manspreading. Most of the smirks at this point were all mine. Grand would chew me out later and I would feign ignorance.

I don’t know if Grand ever really caught on to why I would ace every pop quiz I was given over the identification of every utensil in the silver chest, as well as its placement and then turn around and behave as though none of it stuck, but just sometimes. All I do know is… the times I was requested to be the dancing monkey on the grind box finally stopped.

I think there should be common courtesy, and I will scold Spawn when I hear them smacking when they chew or their jaw is making wider rotations than a cow. I think basic manners are important. However, the person who uses them as a method of exclusion will always be trashiest of all.

passive aggressive, or how not to adult angrily 2 (g2)

For part one

Now for the one I cannot seem to get through to on this passive aggressive shit… I really don’t understand. This is a person who is a brand addict, and although I’m never sure if they realize it, loves to brag… it can be about deals they have found on designer shit, how much they have managed to save on food, how they have adopted an all-natural, all organic diet… whatever the latest “thing” might be. Half the time, I haven’t a clue who they are talking about when they mention brands.

They have a talented child they are completely devoted to, no one could possibly question it and this kid really is very very talented. Their kid and my kid never speak to one another even if in the same room, but have a shitload of the same or similar interests. It’s weird, but I attribute it to family just being family, it would make sense if there is some commonality. We have a lot of creative talent and high intelligence coursing through the family, we just have the emotional and maturity level of the Sta-Puft Marshmallow man.

They have a two-parent, two-income home and a spoiled child. The child themself is not spoiled, they simply have the resources to give and do just about anything their offspring wishes. I think that is really great. Sure, I’d like to have that level of resource, but I don’t and Spawn is no worse for it. In fact, I suspect that Spawn will be a lot more self-sufficient in the long run because they have simply had to be. Both are exceptional kids and I love them. I think their similarities yet disinterest in interaction with the other is both weird and funny. I hope they grow out of it because I think a valuable friendship could be had there.

I’m pretty sure my darling family member suspects me of directing Spawn’s interests in the same direction as their slightly older offspring. I think they secretly like this idea. This particular family member spends a great amount of effort extolling their various wins, trips, savings, adventures, and kid’s accomplishments on social media, I’m sure in part to instill jealousy among their social peers…whether they realize it or no.

Of course, among the weaker-minded of their acquaintances as I really am beginning to doubt they have ever had a real friendship, they occasionally end up with some mimicking them. One will post “artwork” by their children that is a little too obviously traced or will post seemingly similar posts about their adventures, savings, etc much in the same way my family member does. Personally, I don’t notice much of the mimicries until my family member points it out, but its like a punch in the face whenever they do their “some people” shit in response. I cannot help fanning the flames by responding with “whose ‘Some People’, do I know them and is Some a first name or middle name or a nickname?”,”If you don’t feel comfortable naming them, then why post this?”,”Does this really need to be directed to more than just the one person you want to notice it?”

I’d probably make a great troll.

When we have gotten together for holidays, I have often asked this as subtlety as I am capable as to why they continue to do this and who cares what the hell other people do around them. They seem to feel that in confronting someone this will affect their general social status. I don’t get it. I still don’t get it today. If they care so much about their social status, isn’t taking the risk their “fans” might pick up on the fact their being mocked also be detrimental to their “status?”

I was told “You say whatever you want and get away with it and people will and ‘oooh’ and ‘ahhh’ because you are larger than life.”

Again, more confused and I completely lost all thought for a couple minutes. My family member told me that if anyone didn’t agree with what I said, they would be either too scared to say it or if they did say anything, I would tell them multiple ways to stick it.

All I could think to ask was, “Is this really how you see me? Because the last thing I would ever apply to myself would be some foreign concept of ‘larger than life,’ that one is especially far reaching.” In the grand scheme of things I feel really quite small, I’m just ok with that.

We talked a good bit trying to understand one another a little more, but they had left me completely befuddled with their view of me. I did encourage them to find their own voice and stop worrying so much about what people did around them, unless they were pulling Single White Female shit. If anything they would probably end up being the hero of the community for being the one to stand up to someone being a douchebag and relieving the cowardly ones from doing so. When we remain silent about shit behavior, we inadvertently reward it. Sure your parents should have raised you with good manners, but where they lacked is where your peers step in to be more effective.

I guess what I really took from it is that passive-aggressive behavior is stemmed deeply in fear. I supposed until we deal with the underlying fear, those who rely on P-A to contend with their issues will never change. I also took away from this is that someone like me who has no real fear of being angry or putting that out on the table to discuss, must seem like an unattainable goal, hence the impression of being “larger than life.”

Maybe I take it for granted, but over the years I have come to realize that relationships in which I’ve confronted someone with the goal of resolving something that angered me and that have become worse because of that confrontation, were never worth having in the first place. Perhaps, in having quite a few deep and valuable friendships, I have been able to make this distinction where my family member hasn’t. Is passive aggressive behavior a method of avoiding finding out your friendship is based on superficial shit?

Maybe, but the sad reality is that when you deal with “friends” through passive aggressive means, you are only deluding yourself in thinking they don’t know what you are doing. They may not see themselves in whatever it is you’re trying to communicate, but deep down they understand you cannot be trusted since you don’t communicate in an honest way.

When you deal with people honestly, they cannot help but find your friendship enriching since they always know where they stand, good or ill. I think that is worth the gamble.

passive aggression or how not to adult angrily (g2)

Going to have a little rant I guess. Most of us have that one (or more) friend or family member who just cannot seem to understand how to express anger directly, least of all to the source of their anger. In my case, I seem to be surrounded by the bastards everywhere I go. Most of them, not all, seem to be women. I promise I am not being sexist, it just seems too often, but not always, be the case in my own experience.

It does not seem to matter whether it is work or family, I just see so much of it. I wonder if this isn’t a phenomena of leftover bullshit upbringing principles in which it was not OK for a woman to express anger. However, we’re not in the dark ages anymore and the alternative makes you so much more hated… by everyone.

Now Grand was epic at passive aggressive. They were the type to not speak to you at length and then never tell you why, you were just supposed to know. Let me tell you this, anyone who wants to assume you’re a fucking mind-reader whenever they are pissed not only is a selfish twat, but has no interest in keeping a healthy relationship with you. They want the world to cater to them like royalty and they could use some humbling. Best response? If after 6 months they feel the need to finally ring you up and tell you they aren’t speaking to you any longer, your response should be “huh sorry didn’t notice, but it does explain why the past few months have been so peaceful and enjoyable.” If all they do is hang up and never speak to you again, consider your life blessed. DO NOT fall into their bullshit need to make you feel there is something wrong with you.

If at any point in your life you ever want to get on twitter, Facebook, MySpace (wtf is that?), Snapchat, YouTube or whatever your online social media addiction of choice is with the goal of raging about someone in particular and start with or include the phrase:

“Some people….”

Shut the fuck up right now and go dunk your head, then read a book about maturity and maybe Google “adult confrontation.” Otherwise, you’re being a big fucking tool. Take the shit offline and talk to just that person directly about whatever it is that’s pissing you off.

I have not so subtly tried to hinder this behavior in someone I know. I’m not good at being diplomatic or soft-handed. I rage about what pisses me off and I cut ties with people who cannot seem to function without being leeches. I don’t do passive aggressive because I don’t give a shit what people’s opinion about me is. I know how much I hate it, so it makes so much more sense for me to take two minutes and hash it out with the person who pissed me off.

Eight times out of ten, I have completely misunderstood something and had no reason to be pissed in the first place. Isn’t that great? I don’t have to shit on my day when I’m pissed 80% of time because I don’t assume someone knows they pissed me off, we deal with it and I find out I have grossly misunderstood something, they explain, I say “whew” and move on with my fucking day.

The passive aggressive person however will never say anything to the person, they will write notes, make rude comments, bitch to every single person they can around both parties, make vague hostile remarks on social media and just spend most of the their time obsessing over everything the person says or does, assuming it is all some retaliation or attack against them. This could go one for years… maybe until the day they die. Considering the passive aggressive person does not often just target one person, that’s a shitload of anger being bottled for no fucking good reason.

Another major run-in with p-a was a co-worker. I’m not sure what happened, they were newer than I to the company and I’m pretty sure they had more experience doing mostly the same thing I was doing, and likely being paid more because of it. However, me being me I was generally faster and more accurate at it, by about 30% (yes, my manager checked). I’d been with the company longer and I have a reasonably high energy, but it was my first time in this field. She was the type who watched the clock and didn’t budge a minute over eight hours. I never watched the clocked and often worked over. We were just different types of people. Unfortunately, she was also one of those who simply had to have drama going either at home or at work. If not, she created it.

I had come back from vacation after she’d been there a little over six months and I was treated… well, like shit. I asked what was up and if I’d left something unattended and was met with silence. A few weeks later, my manager pulled both of us in a meeting over my co-worker’s “concerns”. Now, before I took time off, we had often come into one another’s area and help the other when one of us got caught up with our own work. I kept things pending in a particular area and had always let everyone including my manager know where to find anything. My co-worker’s concerns were that my going into their personal space was “disrespectful” to them. (since when the fuck is common area personal space?), and they did not want me touching their stuff any longer.

I asked if I had ever plundered through their personal belongings, purse, jacket, etc. They said no, of course not. I asked them to please explain to me what aside from those items were “personal.” My co-worker didn’t understand what I meant. I figured if this person was going to be pissed at me, I might as well earn it. I pretty much said that I would never touch any of their personal items, but if they were talking about the piles of outstanding work left to be done, this all belonged to the company and “our” job was to ensure it was completed. That if she had issues with the fact I was helping her more often than she was ever helping me that was her own problem. If she suspected I was going through anything personal in order to get to whatever work she had outstanding, then to please move it to a more communal area or I would have the manager take it out for me, but it didn’t make any sense to let the shit just sit there to satisfy her own ego.

Thankfully, she quit a few months later. I read “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” to get through the remaining time with her… twice. I would like to think it helped a little, it at least kept me sane. It was getting to the point where her venom around the company was getting on our department head’s nerves enough that she was very close to the chopping block if she hadn’t left on her own.

My next co-worker at the same place was unfortunately much the same in this way, and seemed to be for the same reason. Except she was the writing type. She liked leaving post-its in the stacks of work with “I wish someone people would leave other people’s stuff alone.” It took a year this time before I was pulled into yet another meeting with our new manager who did not know the prior co-worker very well. I was quite angry myself at this point. I told them point blank with them sitting there “fire me then, right now, because I’m not putting up with the bullshit again. People who act like this are a disease. They poison the entire fucking environment and then want to act like its your fault, and that’s just bullshit.” I’ve never wanted to rage quit so much in my life. I also didn’t realize how much working with someone like that could make your entire livelihood unbearable. I try very hard to brush off most of the dipshits of the world… this was like being slowly buried in mercurium. That shit doesn’t come off so easily no matter what you do.

At this point, I questioned if I had some big massive character flaw. I know I’m blunt, I know I don’t care about confrontation as much as I should…. the fact I once loudly told off another (veteran) co-worker in front of the HR Manager’s office (and around the corner from a VP) was enough to make it blatantly clear I didn’t give a shit about holding back when I’d had it. I even immediately went into our department manager’s office afterwards and told on myself because I didn’t want them to hear it third-hand.

I’ve also gotten in a screaming session with a branch manager under the scrutiny of 100 or so of our subordinates because I knew I was right since it was a program I managed and they did not understand it too well…. we were fist to fist and I was so pissed I actually heard a vein in my forehead pop and welcomed my very first migraine shortly after. Looking back, I was younger and more emotional, but I don’t know if I would have been too different.

My point is, I’m ok with being angry too. I know its a valid emotion that serves a purpose, the faster you expel it, the healthier you are. Like having a good cry can be beneficial.

The 2nd P-A hit the chopping block when the economy went to shit. I ended up having 100% of the workload normally split in two. Apparently, their attitude and way of dealing with things was pretty globally known and they had been moved to various departments over the last 10 years trying to find one they wouldn’t be such a problem in. Another VP begged for them to not be laid off, but they were essentially demoted and put on the phones as reception instead. I felt bad for them, but at the same time I was relieved in knowing that it wasn’t just me they had a problem with.

Now, on a happier note, my next co-worker and I were like two peas in a pod. We worked like caffeine-fueled hellions and there were no barriers. I had more than once had my chair, whilst still in it, moved out of the way so they could grab some of my pending material to help out and I did the same in turn to help them, even though we were not primarily over the same type of work. We went on hiking adventures at lunch to see what trouble we could find…and just generally had a fun time in spite of the hard times, even though buried in additional work and perpetually busy. When I got an offer with another company that was just too lucrative to pass up, they were with me til almost 9 that last night to make sure everything I had to do was done and any final touches to make the manual I wrote more clear were put in. We still meet up for lunch on occasion even today. I am constantly directing anything lucrative I hear about their way because they are just that good.

But did we fight? Yep. We both just happened to value our work and personal relationship enough to deal with it immediately and honestly.

Rest of the rant