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Didi’s Manners & Etiquette: Best and Worse Manners from 2014

Thursday, January 01, 2015


Over-sharing about breakups on social media, the tackiness of the 'wealfie,' the cluelessness of travelers and spreading the cold flu were some of the more horrific breaches of etiquette in 2014. The best: coffee gifters, layaway 'Angel' donors, all volunteers everywhere around the world, and everyone who teaches children and adults about drunk driving and head injuries from rough sports. 

Devastated by husband's Facebook status

My husband announced our breakup on Facebook, before I had a chance to tell my closest friends and family. Worst is our children hadn't been told and that's how they found out. Things haven't been good, but now I'm feeling even worse. How do I respond to our status on social media?  

~Ellie, Providence

Try to forget about frigging Facebook. If you feel you have to soften the blow, do a status update directed to close family and friends saying that you have both agreed to a peaceable uncoupling. Because he announced it first, it makes him sound like the bad guy. By you graciously announcing the breakup was by mutual consent, you come out as the more rational voice. 

Talking to your children is the most difficult. Together, gently tell them that you both will always love them no matter what, and they will have two homes instead of one. On this, you may want a professional consult.


'Wealfie' brazenness

How do I get my fiancé to see that it is not polite to brag about his riches on social media by taking selfles while standing in front of his latest acquisition? It's embarrassing. He feels he has to show off his toys -- including a private jet and Italian race car -- on Facebook so that his friends and colleagues will see how successful he is. How do I get him to understand that it is not polite -- or cool -- to brag about his wealth?  


Artists have been painting and drawing self portraits for centuries. Taking a selfie, a photo of yourself, is not an anomaly. The need to connect and be recognized is inherently part of our makeup in a society that encourages self-expression -- taking photos of ourselves. Posting 'wealfies' is how your fiancé shows off his wealth by taking a selfie along side his outrageously expensive props. Seeing a friend or colleague's 'wealfie' taken in St. Moritz about to ski a run and then sipping champagne on a yacht in St. Bart, gives glimpses of a privileged life.

Mention your concern to your fiancé. Remind him that now that he has showed the world his expensive toys, and enough is enough. Suggest that for you and his self-respect going forward, he makes a New Year's resolution to stop flaunting his riches. Tell him boasting makes him seem insecure -- and you know he's really cooler than that.  


Worst dinner guest ever

It is unbelievable to me that a person can attend a dinner party sick. This is the second time over the holidays when I have been seated next to someone with a full-out, blown-out cold or perhaps flu.

It was as though they just came down with the flu when they sat down next to me. Nose running, coughing into their hands, sneezing into the sleeve of their elbow, using their napkin as a tissue. The woman last night was so sick she spilled a full glass of red wine down the front of my jacket, shirt, tie and trousers. Today she texted to tell me she would pay for the dry cleaning.

I don’t want to have contact with someone like her again. Don’t these people understand how common colds and flu colds are transmitted?

What do you do when you’re stuck with someone who is quite obviously really sick and should be home in bed? If you’re sick, do us all a favor and stay home.  

~Furious, Washington DC

My sympathy to you who may come down with an airborne cold or flu, and to the two guests who were sick. Give at least one of them the benefit of the doubt that their cold medicine was wearing off when they sat down to dinner. Next time, suggest that the person lie down in another room until they feel better, and say that you’ll check on them after dinner to see if they need a ride home.

As to the dry cleaning bill. She offered to pay. Have the entire suit and tie dry-cleaned and the shirt laundered. Then send her the bill with a stamped self-addressed envelope for her to return with your check inside.

There is nothing to do at a social occasion, but be compassionate toward the person feeling ill.

Don’t find yourself in a similar situation, such as your sick dinner partners did — making everyone in close proximity as miserable as you were.  


The inconsiderate traveler

Traveling has become such a nightmare we no longer look forward to taking a trip. Nobody pays attention to where they're walking because they're texting. If our children know absolutely nothing about traveling politely, neither will their progeny. Are there any ground rules about the etiquette of travel?  

~E.D., Boston

When children see their parents constantly connected, it's hard to put limits on texting, but I agree. It is difficult to navigate a car when you see people crossing intersections with their eyes glued to their device. 

The good news is the trend that major cities such as New York -- where on any given day six million people use the subway system -- will soon be posting good etiquette posters in subways suggesting riders be considerate of space-related incursions: don't block doors or hog poles, and carry backpacks in front instead of on their backs. Certain foods may be banned: no more eating messy, smelly food. No playing loud music, nor tending to personal grooming -- including applying nail polish and deodorant, clipping nails, flossing teeth, and nose picking. Not hogging seats by spreading their legs in the shape of a V -- a sore spot for busy travelers. Just ask them to move over when they're taking up two seats. Riders should give up their seats for pregnant women and the elderly. 

Watch, soon to follow we'll be seeing etiquette posters in bus stops and airport terminals. Most suggestions are logical. Storing your carryon luggage in the overhead compartment putting the wheels in first to speed up the seating process making the compartments easier to use. When someone kicks the back of your seat, you feel what the person in front of you will experience if you kick his seat. Constant use of the reclining button can be annoying. If every traveler was considerate, traveling would be more so.  


Do you have a dilemma about love, family and life in general for Didi? Go ahead and "Ask Didi."  If your Question is used, we can withhold your name and/or location.


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