Copyright Victoria Pratt
I attended the Women’s March in New York on Saturday and was thrilled that despite the enormous crowd and extremely slow movement, New Yorkers were at their absolute best. There was no pushing or rude remarks, people trying to get across the march were allowed to move through easily. I even encountered some tourists trying to get across to Grand Central with several large suitcases. When those suitcases inevitably fell over, people stopped to help them right them and get across to the train station. I had intended to write a whole post about it and then about how you don’t have to be polite to people who actively seek to harm you. But then I started reading a whole lot more about how the March made many groups feel excluded and felt that those discussions were better left to people much more informed than me.
One thing that did really strike me about my experience that also relates to etiquette, is the importance of invitations in life. We would be completely isolated in our lives if we never extended or accepted invitations. And sometimes those of us who are inclined to stay home and binge watch The Crown yet again, can be lured away by a tempting invitation. The same holds true with political action. It’s soooo easy to say to yourself, “I don’t know where to go or what to say to get involved, so I might as well just stay home.”
When all my girlfriends were going to Washington with their mothers to March and I wasn’t extended a particular invitation from them (which is fine! for the record! I love you guys!), I thought to myself that getting to DC by myself was too much trouble and that I would just sit this one out. Then I found out that the New York March was also happening, and I also said to myself “no one else I know mentioned going, so I think I will sit this one out.” But then I realized what a big thing it was going to be and decided I HAD to go. But I still didn’t want to go alone. So I reached out to a bunch of people who were going to be around and asked them to come with me. And they did! And some of them might not have if I hadn’t asked. So, I think, that beyond your own political actions, one of the most important things you can do is do that action, but also bring another person along with you. Now you’ve doubled the number of people! And then that can go on exponentially! Host a get together where everyone sits around and calls their senators. Invite some friends to go to a Town Hall with you. Get a group and go to the NEXT big march.
Jaya reminds me that the one caveat is that if someone doesn’t want to go because they feel that the march marginalizes them or makes them feel excluded, or many of the other very good reasons why they wouldn’t feel comfortable attending, then of course, don’t push them on it. And then see what you can do to make them feel more welcome at similar marches, or just in general.
I know that people are grown ups and should be able to do what’s right on their own. But seriously, people are so incredibly lazy most of the time. There are whole memes about the excitement of cancelling plans. Peer pressure really works! So please, send an invitation to the revolution and hopefully the thanks you receive will be bounteous.
I was having dinner with a friend at a new Welsh restaurant in Brooklyn when I started thinking about how one of the anxieties people have about restaurants is pronouncing what they are ordering. Right up there with knowing which fork to use, I think a lot of people get the impression from the media that if you can’t pronounce Coq au Vin correctly, your dining companions will be absolutely mortified and you will feel like an imposter.
The truth is that no one cares if you mispronounce anything. However, in most instances, there is an easy trick you can use. Just call it by it’s name in English or pared down to the basics. In my case at the Welsh restaurant, I wanted to order the ffagodau and haha, I don’t speak Welsh and I am not even going to TRY with that one. What I did do, was ask for the meatballs, which is what the dish was. This works pretty well for menus that are small where there is say a dish each of salmon, tilapia, steak, chicken, and lamb. Just name the meat. Or the preparation or sauce.
If worse comes to worse, just mispronounce with abandon and laugh it off!
I don’t know how it happened, but this month I just…blew out my budget and ran out of spending money. It happens to the best of us from time to time. However, just because you are broke right now, it doesn’t mean all your friends are and they still want to hang out with you! But how do you navigate this tricky situation where you can’t do the usual cocktails, dinner, or a movie (I live in NYC and going to a movie is like $20 now!)?
You speak up!!! Not speaking up about these things is how people get themselves into massive debt trying to keep up with the Jones. So a friend texted me and was like “let’s hang out this week!” And I hemmed and hawed for a bit and then finally responded that I’d love to, but it had been a really crazy month and I was out of money, but if we could do something very low key, I would be down.
Of course in these situations, these people are your friends and they want YOUR company, so naturally, she came back with, oh, sure, why don’t you come over to my house and we can have wine and snacks and it will be great.
I think we so often worry that talking about money is rude, or people are going to judge you or not want to hang out with you if you can’t afford to do fun stuff. But, if they really are your friends and decent people, they will be more interested in working with you than against you.
I recently went to a birthday party with about 20 people attending at a bar that was supposed to be so quiet that the bartenders shushed the room when it started to get too loud. It was fine, but I started wondering if we were being rude by inflicting a party like that one a venue that was clearly not that into it (not so against it that they would kick us out, however). So that got my thinking about how to choose a venue for your birthday or get together or whatever that would suit the kind of party you want to have without creating an undue burden on the establishment or the other patrons.
So some thoughts:
- Make sure the venue is adequately sized for your party, don’t try to squeeze 50 people into a 500 square foot bar. Likewise don’t try to get them into a restaurant with seating for 25.
- Try to give a heads up- see if you can reserve a room or some tables at a bar, get a reservation at a restaurant. (Be kind to your gets and don’t take a huge group to a restaurant with no reservations and a 3 hour wait to accomodate your size!)
- Don’t take a rowdy group to a sedate spot where you are going to significantly annoy the other patrons.
- Try to choose a spot with a wide variety of drinks or food- an all beer bar or an all fish restaurant is going to be rough for some people (me, it will be rough for me).
- Consider the cost. Maybe you can afford to down $20 cocktails all night (especially since your friends will likely try to buy them for you), but unless you know that’s your crowd’s level, maybe consider bringing it down a couple notches so everyone can participate with ease.
- Possibly try to hold your event on a less popular night and or time when things are less crowded and your group is more able to fit into the place you want.
Obviously these are super loose guidelines- do what you want! But you are probably going to have a more successful event if you follow them somewhat.
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.