Some Thoughts on Etiquette

Completely unrelated to knitting,sewing, or crafting of any kind, other than that one of the people mentioned below is someone I met through knitting. But I need to get this off my chest. So hi, audience!

Etiquette. I read Miss Manners and own books by both Emily Post and Letitia Baldridge. I do silly things from those books like insist on not stacking dishes when I clear the table.

But etiquette is not about rules for the sake of rules. (Though I’m not sure about the not-stacking-dishes thing. I haven’t figured out the reason for that.) Etiquette is about shared expectations and not making people uncomfortable. Which is why the following etiquette “violations” that have happened to me or in my presence in the last five days bug me so much.

1. I’m out to eat with three friends. Three of us are done eating, the fourth is not. The server clears the plates of the three of us who were done, leaving my friend feeling awkward (I don’t know if she actually did feel awkward, but I would have had it been me) because she was still eating. Etiquette: don’t make people uncomfortable.

2. I issued a basically open invitation to a gathering at my apartment via Twitter. (For those of you who follow me and wonder why you didn’t see it, it’s because I have more than one twitter account.) The gathering isn’t of general interest and the invitation didn’t include my address, so all was going to be well. I specifically mentioned the few followers I thought would be interested in coming in the tweet. And one of them re-tweeted it. It turned out she had done it accidentally and when it was pointed out, she deleted her tweet, so ultimately it wasn’t really an etiquette violation, but it relates to …

3. Last night I had plans with a friend to go out for sushi. It was a crazy day (heck, it’s been a crazy week) where by “crazy” I mean “I had to deal with people being stupid all day” and I was looking forward to drinks, sushi, and one friend. I get to the restaurant, I say there are two of us, and 15 minutes later (because my friend didn’t have the time right), a different friend walks in. Turns out that my friend has issued an open invitation to join us. I’m sorry, but no. You don’t invite other people along (by the way, I invited him. But not a date) when you’ve been invited somewhere. Especially not without checking first if it’s okay to do so. Etiquette: shared expectations.

4. The other day I received an invitation to Shabbat lunch at a friend’s house. I evaluated my wine supply and determined that I could accept the invitation because I wouldn’t have to go to the store to buy wine. I responded that I would love to come. (This was all by email.) My friend responded, “great, can you bring…?” I wish I had thought to respond “sorry, no I can’t.” Instead I just got annoyed. The invitation wasn’t for a potluck. If it had been, I would have evaluated what I had at home in terms of food. (I had just come from the supermarket, where I bought the few things that I needed, and just like not wanted to go to the store to buy wine, I also didn’t want to go to the store to buy food. Two times at the grocery store in a single evening is at least one time too many.) I didn’t think of the correct response until last night, so I did the passive-aggressive thing that I’m so good at: “Well, I just bought ___ so I suppose I can bring what’s left of it….” Etiquette: shared expectations. You invite someone to a meal without saying in the invitation that the guest is expected to contribute? Don’t ask them to after they’ve accepted.


/rant over


One Comment on “Some Thoughts on Etiquette”

  1. Yes, etiquette is about putting people at ease. Looks like your circle needs some work!

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