Dealing With Rudeness

Jaya had a great question recently:

A coworker was mistaken for pregnant at a restaurant this weekend by the old, Hungarian waiter, and was understandably upset about it. But someone else in the conversation apparently told her to chalk it up to a cultural difference. What is everyone’s responsibility when running into stuff like that? Because perhaps it’s normal in one culture, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt you.

Jaya: It interests me because I think it brings up larger issues about privilege and who controls the conversation. Like, who gets to determine what is rude. Because if our cultures have different ideas of what is acceptable and what isn’t, no one has the right to tell the other one what they’re doing is wrong. As much as, to me, the notion of commenting on a woman’s perceived pregnancy is horrific.

Victoria: Yeah, and to someone else, its just normal small talk.

Jaya: Right. So I think it’s important to be understanding of that, especially if you’re traveling and in a place where your standards are not the norm. Like, don’t go to Japan and yell at everyone for how they don’t do business like you.

Victoria: Haha yeah, for sure.

Jaya: However, I also don’t think that means that you should just roll over and “relax” if someone insults you, even if they don’t see it as an insult.

Victoria: That’s true. But at the same time, what would your response be? Especially in a case with a waiter or someone who you likely won’t interact with again? (I think for friends and family you should make it clear that you don’t appreciate their comments and that you find it hurtful.)

Jaya: Right. I think it’s up to the person, but I also think that you are well within your rights to speak out. There are plenty of times I just don’t feel like engaging, and I brush something like that off, but that’s because it’s my choice, not because I feel like I shouldn’t.

Victoria: True. I guess, that for me, there’s not much point in engaging, especially when a person is likely to become very defensive. For me, I see it as, it’s up to me to manage my feelings on a situation and can be helpful to think to myself “this person has a different idea about what questions are okay and which are not and I will just choose to believe that they didn’t mean anything hurtful” or just “they’re rude and they suck.” But I guess it also depends greatly on the situation and exactly what was said. Or wait, scratch part of that- the “it’s not up to me to manage my feelings” part….more like….I’m in charge of my feelings and I can’t always choose what people will say or how they will act, but I can choose how to feel about it? Oh I don’t know, this is a hard one.

Jaya: That’s a huge part of it! Like, is it emotionally worth it for you to engage?

Victoria: Haha okay, good, I am making sense.

Jaya: Yes! There’s a lot to weigh.

Victoria: Oh! I thought of a better way to phrase it- the only thing in a situation you can control is your reaction to it.

Jaya: YES, which is not to say you need to “control yourself” and do nothing, but really, you do you.

Victoria: So you have to think- is this something that is very important to me? Is this someone I will have to see frequently? To what degree am I willing to escalate it? Yeah, and obviously, we have to point out one of the etiquette golden rules: it is never okay to counter rudeness with more rudeness.

Jaya: I break that rule all the time.

Victoria: Hahah, I mean, we’re all rude sometimes.

Jaya: HOT TAKE: sometimes it’s okay to counter rudeness with more rudeness.

Victoria: lol. I mean, its not OKAY, but sometimes we are people who lose control of ourselves. And that is forgivable.

Jaya: I think, at its worst, etiquette encourages a lot of people to just grin and bear it for the sake of comfort.

Victoria: Well, I mean, I think they are polite ways and rude ways to respond to something that isn’t just grin and bearing it.

Jaya: Oh totally.

Victoria: Like someone is being a racist jerk. You can punch them Which would be rude. Or you can gently but firmly point out that they are being racist and remove yourself from their presence.

Jaya: But yeah I think people use etiquette and politeness to be like, a blanket rule that any sort of response is rude.

Victoria: Well, they are wrong 😛

Jaya: Hahaha duh. Mainly all I want to say is let’s never make comments about anyone’s bodies or really comment on anything and then we can all live and quickly die in dignified silence.

Victoria: Hahah yeah, but sadly there are rude people out there always.

Jaya: Can’t we send them to the moon yet?

Victoria: someday!

Jaya: Everyone fund NASA

Victoria: Someone should run for president on that platform

Jaya: You do it

Victoria: Victoria for president! (except not because it sounds like a really hard job!)

Jaya: Hahaha yeah. Etiquette counselor to the president.

How to Deal When Someone Doesn’t Remember You

None of these people are going to remember anyone they met.

None of these people are going to remember anyone they met.

Dear Uncommon Courtesy,

Would you consider writing a post about what to do when someone you’ve met before reintroduces themselves? Do you tell them you’ve met previously? Do you just smile and go with it? I imagine there’s different protocol for the person doing this whom you’ve only met once before, compared to the person who’s ‘met’ you for the fifth time.


Introduced Again and Again


Official Etiquette

Miss Manners says that you just politely remind people that you have met.


Our Take

Jaya: Was it you don’t remember meeting someone, or they don’t remember meeting you?

Victoria: They don’t remember meeting you was the question, but we can do both.

So this happens to me allll the time.

Jaya: Absolutely, on both sides. I’m usually not offended if someone doesn’t remember meeting me.

There are a lot of people out there! I’m not special

Victoria: Haha yeah! I think it’s fine, especially when you are meeting people in a crowd or its a dark bar situation.

Jaya: Yeah exactly If it’s going on like 5-6 times I’m also usually not offended, it just signals that I’m not gonna be best friends with this person, which is fine, I got friends. I’d be more offended if it were in a business situation.

Victoria: I think it’s totally fine to say “oh we met at such and such a place.” But I hate it when people are like “we’ve met” and are really short about it. It’s like, jeez sorry.

Jaya: Yeah, give someone a break! Plus that doesn’t help me, now I just know we’ve met but have no idea where.

Victoria: Oh and sometimes if it’s been a long time, and I knew they probably wouldn’t remember me, I won’t even say anything. I’ll just be like, it’s nice to meet you.

Jaya: Definitely. Also, if I get a sense I’ve met someone before but forget their name, I like having my husband or a friend nearby so I can be like “oh this is my husband Matt” and then he goes “Hi, nice to meet you, what was your name again?” and then boom, I remember their name.

Victoria: Hahah nice trick. Okay and then if you are the one who didn’t remember meeting them, I think it’s nice to apologize and then say something about being terrible with faces or whatever.

Jaya: Definitely. Or if they bring up the night you met and you remember it being particularly drunken/dark/hectic, mention that.

Victoria: Yes! Now, if this is like the 6th time you’ve forgotten them…..maybe just run away?

Jaya: But yes, if it’s the first time it’s happened, I don’t think you can really get mad. But yeah any more it’s like, this person is probably a jerk and you can avoid them. Or maybe has face blindness. Check that they don’t have face blindness first.

Victoria: And maybe do the super businessy thing of proactively saying peoples names when you meet them so you remember them.

Jaya: Ugh that never works for me. I do that every time I meet someone and repeat their name in my haed and then it’s immediately gone.

Victoria: Haha yeah, I don’t do names either. I just never say anyone’s name unless I’m yelling across a room to get their attention.

Victoria : Did you know that the princess of Sweden is face blind? That must be a nightmare in that position.

Jaya: I love how you just know the princess of Sweden is face blind.

Victoria: I am full of fun facts.

I think also if you forget someone but you sort of think you have met before you can just be like, hey how are you????

And then later be like omg this is so embarrassing I am blanking on your name.

Jaya: Yes! I pull “nice to see you” a lot when I’m unsure.

Victoria: Yeah, I am pretty good with faces but not with names.

Jaya: Definitely. I don’t know, I feel like everyone goes through this, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to be understanding when it happens.

Victoria: Yeah, totally. And I mean, if someone is just being obtuse about it and you’ve met ten times, just ignore them and write them off as someone awful that you don’t want to deal with.

Jaya: Absolutely, there are better things to focus on that one person who can’t be bothered with you.

Though again, if it’s in a professional setting it makes it harder.

Like if a partner at your law firm refuses to learn your name.

Victoria: Yeah, I was going to say, if it’s business and they are senior to you, just keep firmly introducing yourself to them through a smile with gritted teeth.

If they are junior to you, get them fired.

jk jk

Rude v. Tacky: Musings On Weird Al’s New Song

weird_al_tacky.png.CROP.promovar-mediumlargeFirst off, I am the type of person who finds myself singing Weird Al lyrics instead of the real ones whenever popular songs come on. I welcome anyone who shares this affliction, as I’m sure you were just as excited when his new parody “Tacky” (of Pharrell’s “Happy”) came out this week. It’s a fantastic song, and quite a few of the lyrics actually deal with modern etiquette faux pases.

The word “tacky” is apparently a Southern colloquialism. According to “American Notes and Queries,” Feb. 15 1890,

“It was coined by a wealthier or more refined and educated class for general application to those who were not sheltered by the branches of a family tree, who were ‘tainted.’ Those who were wealthy and yet had no great-grandfathers were ‘tackies.’ The word was used both in contempt and in derision. It is now nearly obsolete in both senses. There are no aristocrats in the South now, and therefore no ‘tackies.’ No man who has the instincts of a gentleman is spoken of as a ‘tacky,’ whether he can remember the name of his grandfather’s uncle or not. But it has its uses. It is employed in describing persons of low ideas and vulgar manners, whether rich or poor. It may mean an absence of style. In dress, anything that is tawdry is ‘tacky.’ A ribbon on the shopkeeper’s counter, a curtain in the bolt, a shawl or bonnet, a bolt of cloth fresh from the loom may be ‘tacky,’ because it is cheap and yet pretentious.”

I did not know all this, but when I was a kid, I always thought tacky was somehow related to the concept of “tact,” which is really the sensitivity in which one deals with things outside of themselves. I thought a “tacky” person was one with no tact, no concept of how their actions were being perceived or reacted to by others. In short, I thought it had to do with rudeness.

Obviously, these two are different concepts, but sometimes I do think they’re still related. So, which things in “Tacky” are actually rude and which are just a matter of taste? We figured you may want to know, which is why we will now go LINE BY LINE THROUGH THE NEW WEIRD AL SONG and parse out the social implications.  You’re welcome.


It might seem crazy, wearing stripes and plaid – Crazy, yes, but power clashing is never considered a matter of etiquette.
I Instagram every meal I’ve had –  Definitely rude. If you want to take a meal photo now and then, fine, but you should err on the side of sparing your guests a display of your artistic meal positioning skills. Plus, your food is getting cold.
All my used liquor bottles are on display – Not rude, but definitely makes your house look like my ex-boyfriend’s sophomore year dorm room, which is not a good look for anyone.
We can go to see a show but I’ll make you pay – It’s unclear how Weird intends this line. Does this mean you’ll spend the whole show tweeting? Talking? Were you invited to a show under the impression that it was a treat, but last minute were told you had to pay for your own ticket? I mean, all of these things are bad, but in varying degrees.

(Because I’m Tacky)
Wear my belt with suspenders and sandals with my socks – Not rude, especially if you’re a dad.
(Because I’m Tacky)
Got some new glitter uggs and lovely pink sequined crocs -Again, fashion is not rude, unless you’re wearing this getup to a funeral.
(Because I’m Tacky)
Never let you forget some favor I did for you – Definitely rude. A favor is a favor, and should not be held over the recipients head for the rest of their lives.
(Because I’m Tacky)
If you’re okay with that, then, you might just be tacky, too 

[Verse 2]
I meet some chick, ask her this and that – Derogatory terms for women are always rude, WEIRD AL.
Like are you pregnant girl, or just really Fat? (What?) – Inquiring into the reproductive state of any person is always rude, as we have discussed.
Well, now I’m dropping names almost constantly – Not necessarily rude, but I do think this falls under tactlessness.
That’s what Kanye West keeps telling me, here’s why

(Because I’m Tacky)
Wear my Ed Hardy shirt with fluorescent orange pants – Fashion, not rude
(Because I’m Tacky)
Got my new resume it’s printed in Comic Sans – Only rude if you’re one of those font people
(Because I’m Tacky)
Think it’s fun threatening waiters with a bad Yelp review – Incredibly rude! Most of the time, bad restaurant service is the cause of a number of factors, not just the waiter’s negligence. And threatening employees is basically the best way to get thrown out of a restaurant, not get good service.
(Because I’m Tacky)
If you think that’s just fine, then, you’re probably tacky, too

[Bridge] – Nothing in the bridge deals with tackiness or rudeness.

(Because I’m Tacky)
43 Bumper Stickers and a “YOLO” license plate – I don’t know what Weird Al is talking about, this person sounds pretty cool.
(Because I’m Tacky)
Bring along my coupon book whenever I’m on a date – Frugality is certainly not rude, and if your date tries to shame you they can go ahead and pay full price themselves. That being said, learn which things are worth springing for.
(Because I’m Tacky)
Practice my twerking moves in line at the DMV – Totally rude. You are to stay still and quiet while waiting on line. Anything else gets death stares.
(Because I’m Tacky)
Took the whole bowl of restaurant mints. Hey, it said they’re free – On one hand, they’re free, go ahead. On the other, it’s only polite to make sure everyone has the opportunity for fresh breath.
(Because I’m Tacky)
I get drunk at the bank
And take off my shirt, at least – I’m pretty sure most banks have a “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service” policy, to say nothing of public intoxication, so this may no be rude so much as it is illegal.
(Because I’m Tacky)
I would live-tweet a funeral, take selfies with the deceased PEOPLE DO THIS. DON’T DO THIS.
(Because I’m Tacky)
If I’m bitten by a zombie, I’m probably not telling you – Well duh, you’re a zombie now, you can’t talk.
(Because I’m Tacky)
If you don’t think that’s bad, guess what, then you’re tacky, too

Door Etiquette

Revolving doors strike terror into the hearts of the impolite. via Wikimedia Commons

Regular Doors:

This is really basic stuff, but apparently it needs to be said:

  • Hold doors for anyone coming behind you.
  • Especially hold doors for someone who has their arms full.
  • Say “thank you” if someone holds a door for you.
  • Don’t slam doors.
  • Don’t stop once you are on the other side of the door. Someone might be right behind you.
  • Along the same lines, don’t stand in front of doors.

Revolving Doors:

There are a lot of revolving doors in New York City and apparently no one knows how to use them, from what I’ve been witnessing lately.

  • If you are in a revolving door, you must push! Don’t rely on someone else to do it for you.
  • One person per slot (unless you are with a small child). You do not fit and you are slowing the whole process down.
  • Go with the flow of the door, don’t try to walk the opposite way that everyone else is pushing.
  • If you have an option between a revolving door and a regular door when entering a building (especially in winter and summer) you should choose the revolving door as it keeps the heat/air-conditioning in better.
  • Don’t stop once you exit the door, you are even more likely to be run into than with a regular door.
  • Technically, traditionally, if a man and a woman are entering a revolving door, the man should actually go first so that he can get the thing moving since he is physically stronger. These days, your mileage may vary with this.

Why Are Some People Sending Mass Facebook Messages Instead of Thank Yous?


Dear Uncommon Courtesy,

I recently (September) received a Facebook message from a couple whose wedding I attended in April, thanking all the recipients for coming and asking us to “keep an eye out” for cards. This is ridiculous, right? I mean, the wedding was five months ago!


Where Have The Manners Gone?


OFFICIAL ETIQUETTE: The Knot says “The rule is that you’re supposed to get thank-yous out for gifts received before the wedding within two weeks of their arrival; after the wedding, within a month after you return from the honeymoon,” to say nothing of Facebook.



[Note: Jaya and Victoria read the original Facebook message]

Victoria: So, they are intending to send actual thank you cards.

Jaya: It sounds like it. Which makes this sort of not even necessary?

Victoria: If this wedding was in the spring and they are only now sending a mass Facebook message with cards to follow, then they are really pushing into rudeness territory. Although, I GUESS if you know you are already super late with TYs, maybe it does seem like a good idea to send around a message that they are coming soon- though I think it would have been better to be super apologetic, because definitely on the first read through this sounded like it was the only TY they were sending.

Jaya: Yeah, I think this could have been done with a little more recognition of how late this is. They also say they just got back from their honeymoon, so unless they were on their honeymoon for four months, maybe they should have said something sooner? Though who knows, maybe they had a lot of shit going on.

Victoria: I mean yeah, but sending thank you notes is part of the deal. Like, don’t eat at a restaurant if you can’t afford to tip- don’t invite more people to your wedding than you can thank in a reasonable amount of time. And if it was something catastrophic that happened to them, their guests probably already know about it.

Jaya: This reader also wrote to us about not getting thanks for another wedding that she did a lot for, which, we don’t even need to debate, that’s just wrong.

Victoria: Yeah.

Jaya: Both were destination weddings, so I think people need to remember that even if your wedding isn’t “traditional,” you still need to thank people.

Victoria: Yes! And even more so if they were really shelling out a ton of cash and time to attend. It takes a lot more effort to get to Hawaii or wherever than to pick something of the registry and drive to the next town over.

Jaya: Right. And maybe they didn’t get you a gift, but your guests still showed up and dedicated their time to you, and that deserves thanks. It’s interesting looking at this in light of the post I just wrote about thank you notes, because even if you debate using email v. writing, other rules still apply. You still have to thank people individually, and those thank yous must be timely.

Victoria: Yes and yes. And to be honest, major travel to attend your wedding is a gift unto itself and should probably be thanked, even if you don’t officially have to. It’s weird that we only think to thank people for tangible items they give us.

Jaya: I think it’s maybe a symptom of what you see in a lot of these wedding horror stories that come out on the internet, of people getting angry at guests for not giving them what they want, or not giving them enough money or something–The idea that you need to make back what you spent on a wedding, and that on the flip side, if your wedding was cheap and you didn’t get many gifts, you don’t need to thank anyone because somehow it wasn’t “real.”

Victoria: Yeah, which is just ridiculous. I mean, you wouldn’t expect to make back money you spent on a dinner party or whatever. I almost think that a lot of drama around weddings these days results from the couple throwing a party to celebrate themselves. I ALMOST think it works better the old way where the parents hosted it, and the couple was the guest of honor.

Jaya: I meaaaaaaaaan.

Victoria: LOL I totally don’t want to go back to that! But it has certainly driven up costs and expectations and all kinds of things that don’t need to be there.

Jaya: There’s nothing wrong with throwing a party to celebrate your own relationship, but the priority should be getting all your loved ones in a room and having fun, not getting stuff. I mean, that’s what I’ve had in my head while wedding planning.

Victoria: Yeah, but you guys are sensible people, and a lot of people aren’t sensible.

Jaya: Well they should fix that.

Victoria: By reading our site and listening to us tell them what to do.