Etiquette In Hospital Rooms

Being in the hospital is no fun, but often, the experience is made worse by the behavior of others in the hospital. It’s bad enough recovering from surgery or waiting for test results without having to hear someone in the hallway barking on their cell phones. I’ve had a few family members go through overnight and extended hospital stays over the past year, and asked them about what they wish was different about the experience (you know, besides being in the hospital in the first place).

  • Don’t touch things: If you’re visiting someone who is in a hospital bed, likely they’re surrounded by a ton of things that are beeping and plugged in and possibly connected to the patient. Don’t touch them. They do important things.
  • Don’t linger unless the patient has asked you to: If you’re close family it’s easier to justify hanging out in the hospital room to keep the patient company, but socializing takes a lot of effort, especially when you’re sick. Come in, check on what they need, chat for a bit, but don’t stay all day unless you talk about it.
  • Do not bring your entire family to hang out: Nowadays, at least in America, staying in the hospital usually means you have a roommate, so a lot of standard roommate etiquette applies. However, lots of people seem to forget how to have a roommate. One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard from friends who have stayed in hospitals is their roommate’s entire family will be there all the time, making noise, taking up space, and in general forgetting that there’s another patient in the room. Even if you’re fine with your entire family being around, your roommate probably isn’t, so be considerate.
  • Be quiet: The main thing about hospitals is that they tend to be places for rest and healing. So respect that by making sure you’re not speaking on your cell phone too loudly in hallways, watching TV during regular bedtime hours, or carrying loud conversations a foot away from your roommate’s bed.
  • Don’t argue with doctors: Ok, this is a hard one, because there is certainly an issue with doctors not listening to patients, or misdiagnosing them, or thinking that Black patients don’t feel pain. Also many American hospitals are extremely taxed/understaffed and as such getting and maintaining a doctor’s attention can be hard. That said, there are a lot of patients in hospitals, and doctors have a lot of training in how to prioritize their needs. It’s a stressful place for everyone, and getting angry generally won’t help anybody. If you have an issue, by all means bring it up, but try to judge whether it’s informed by your actual treatment or just your unhappiness at being in a hospital in the first place.

Royal Ascot Etiquette

Royal Ascot starts tomorrow and if you don’t know, it’s the premier horse race in Britain. Like the Kentucky Derby, but with royalty in attendance.

The race was founded by Queen Anne in 1711 and is attended every year by Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip and other members of the Royal Family. They even open the race by entering the ground in horse drawn carriages! While the general public can buy regular tickets to the races, and almost 300,000 do, but only the crème de la crème can hob nob with the Royals in the Royal Enclosure. Royal Enclosure invitations are harder to get than Hamilton tickets- to be a Royal Enclosure member, you must be sponsored by two existing members who have been members themselves for at least 5 years (and members can only sponsor two new members each year). Members are also allowed to bring up to two guests on the Friday or Saturday of the races, but these guest passes are limited, so even if you do know someone, you might still not get in!

If you do manage to get a membership or invitation, you are going to have to follow the extremely strict dress code:

For Men:

  • Morning dress is required- this means a cut away coat, special pinstripe pants, a waistcoat and tie. In either black or gray.
  • A black or gray top hat (again, this is REQUIRED, you will probably have to rent one)
  • Plain black shoes
  • Or you can wear National Dress (aka you are from another country and have a special formal wear- such as a kimono) or formal Military Dress (if applicable)
  • Boys 10-17 can wear the same, or just wear a plain dark colored suit with a tie.
  • You are not allowed to wear:
    • A cravat instead of a tie
    • A bowtie
    • Any adornment to your hat

For Ladies:

  • Formal daywear. Dresses or skirts must knee length or below. Trouser suits are also appropriate.
  • Dresses and tops must have straps at least one inch wide (no strapless, halter tops, spaghetti straps)
  • Hats with a base of at least 4 inches (aka no fascinators) must be worn.
  • Midriffs must be covered.
  • Girls 10-17 must wear the same, but they can wear fascinators or other small headpieces.

Again, this strict dress code is for the Royal Enclosure only. And honestly, if you are going to be participating in that, this is probably a dress code that you are already familiar with and prepared for anyway. The Queen Anne Enclosure also has a dress code- generally- hats required for ladies, nice dresses and pants suits with no shoulders or midriffs showing, no shorts. For men, they must wear a suit and tie. The super general area doesn’t have a dress code, but from pictures it looks like people mostly make some effort to look nice. You can see more dress code info with fun pictures on their website.

Suggestions for British Reality Shows

If you’ve caught on to the quiet craze for The Great British Bake Off (Great British Baking Show in the US because apparently Pilsbury can copyright “Bake Off,” ugh), you will know that is a much kinder, gentler reality show than we are used to in the US. The contestants are genuinely nice to each other, there are no dramatic pauses that cut to advertising breaks (and thus they can fit 3 challenges into an episode instead of two), and everyone seems to be having a genuinely good time. In short, it’s incredibly relaxing and soothing to watch- the Bob Ross of cooking shows in a sense. So I thought about, what IF there were soothing British versions of other US reality shows? Some suggestions for producers:

  • House Hunters: Britain. I know that there are sometimes Brits on the international version of House Hunters, but what if this was just well adjusted and happy couples looking at quaint British cottages/manors/Tudor half timber? They would save that everything looked just lovely the way it was, not a mention of paint color, granite counter tops, closet space, or “man caves.” They wouldn’t be able to choose and would end up staying where they already lived, because, “we’re perfectly happy here already.”
  • Real Housewives of the Cotswolds. Watch as a charming group of friends in tweed and sweaters go for horseback rides, long walks in wellies, have a spot of tea, and plan the annual garden show. No table throwers need apply.
  • Keeping Up with the Cambridges. A whole show summing up the public appearances of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge that week. With special attention paid to Kate’s clothing choices. Fully palace approved with nothing controversial.
  • Catfish Britain: Everyone is who they say they are, they are just too shy to go out and prefer to talk online. (h/t to Jaya for this one)
  • Lord John and Kate Plus Eight. An Earl and Countess find themselves with 8 children! Of course this is no problem because they hire a staff of nannies and the children end up even more eccentric and less controversial than the Mitfords. Popular scenes include the 15 minutes per day the children see their parents before dinner.
  • The Simple Life. Young married couple with children are actually quite happy to escape the stress of the city to their country estate on weekends and start to contemplate whether they can manage to live there full time.
  • Extreme Make Over: British Home Edition. No one’s lives have been ruined by medical bills thanks the the NHS but along with the Extreme Make Over team, friends and neighbors still pitch in to help people who have been struck by hardship.
  • Duck Dynasty. An eccentric middle aged dad carefully films a pair of ducks nesting, laying their eggs, hatching the chicks, watching them walk about, and finally growing up and leaving the nest to create dynasties of their own.
  • Toddlers and Tiaras. An absurd idea, everyone knows that you may not wear a tiara until after marriage and toddlers are far too young for that.

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Guide to Etiquette

Did you read the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books growing up? You must have since the first book came out in 1947! They were always one of my favorites, probably because I like obeying rules and it was funny to see what would happen to kids who didn’t obey the rules. I’m probably a monster.

Anyway, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (maybe they should update her name to Ms. Piggle-Wiggle? For all kids books they should do that, to set a good example!) comes up with funny and delightful cures to fix all kinds of bad behaviors in children. And in Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Magic, she comes up with a cure for bad table manners.

This story involves a little boy named Christopher Brown who eats like a wild animal. His parents have tried to teach him better but their instructions fall on deaf ears. His mother is particularly worried that he will soon be invited to dinner at friends’ houses and embarrass her horribly. His bad table manners are defined as:

  • Chewing with his mouth open
  • Smacking his lips
  • Gulping audibly
  • Making piles of food on his fork and then sticking it straight down his throat
  • Buttering whole slices of bread on his hand (!!!! this story is old enough, 1949, that most people still knew that you should tear bread into pieces and butter them individually)
  • Mixing his food up until it looks like dog food
  • Drinking his soup from the bowl
  • Gesturing with his fork until food flies off

So basically, pretty bad! Enter Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.

See, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle has a pig named Lester who has beautiful table manners and she lends him to Mrs. Brown to teach Christopher some manners. During the next few days, Lester provides a good example of table manners to Christopher and gently corrects him when he is being boorish. However, Mr. and Mrs. Brown are a bit rude to poor Lester. Mr. Brown throws his bedding into the laundry shoot and makes oink oink noises at him. And Mrs. Brown serves pork for dinner! And then she doesn’t learn ANYTHING and serves bacon for breakfast! I mean, REALLY!

But fortunately, all of Lester’s teachings paid off and Christopher went off to his first dinner party with such polite manners that the hostess called his mother to compliment him the next day.

Now if only we could all have a magical pig to teach manners!