Sunday Ask The Lady: Dealing With Dastardly Doorbell Dingers

Cherished readers, I give you today’s Ask The Lady:

Dear Lady Hooper-Brackett, 

There are more people than ever wandering up and down my street ringing  doorbells and trying to sell something, be it religion or new windows for the house. I struggle with not being rude as they go on and on repeating their rehearsed scripts, while I can not seem to get a word in at all. The fact is, I do not want to be bothered. They seem to have a knack of showing up at dinner time and disturbing my meal. I am fed up. Can I politely tell them to shove off?

Get Off My Porch

Dear Get Off My Porch, The Lady also dreads when the uninvited ring her bell in order to sell something and believes that you can solve your problem thusly:

When the Doorbell ringers come to the door, open it with a flourish, look them in the eye, smile, and say “I’m not interested” and close the door immediately. Give them no opportunity to waste your time. This, by the way, is not discourteous as it also frees up their time to visit more houses in the time allowed.

Best Visitor Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

Vintage Saturday: Advice on Insults from 1967

Cherished readers, The Lady presents to you an excerpt from The Encyclopedia of Etiquette by Llewellyn Miller copyright 1967. This volume is very easy to read as it is written in alphabetical order. Let’s look at what Miss Miller advised when dealing with insults, be they intended or not. (Page 335 in this volume)

A famous definition of gentleman and lady is ‘One who never insults anyone unintentionally.’ To this can be added  ‘A lady or gentleman is one who never takes word, deed, or manner as an insult when none was intended.’ There is no complete remedy for either the calculated insult or one given under the hot impulse of anger. No matter how regretful or abject the apology, the memory of the insulting words remains. However, when an apology is offered it must be accepted. The acceptance can be stiff if the insult was deliberate. But if the insult was unintentional the only sensible thing to do, in sympathy for the embarrassment of the left-footed give, is to laugh and forget it.”

The Lady agrees with Miss Miller. It is certainly better to ignore such things as best as possible. The Lady would even say if it is noted that this same person repeatedly acts in a boorish manner, she would more than likely only see this individual when absolutely necessary. Why subject yourself to more of the same?

Best “Insulting” Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

 

Manners Monday: Saying No

Cherished readers, do you find it easy to say no when you are asked to do something you do not wish to do? For instance, how would you respond to these questions:

  1. We’d like to invite you to dinner next week. My mother-in-law is having issues with her gout and would like to discuss her toes with your husband. We know he is a wonderful doctor. Can you make it next Tuesday at 7?
  2. Jack and I will be in town at the end of the month and we were wondering if we could stay with you for four days?
  3. Can you volunteer for _______this weekend?
  4. Can I borrow a thousand dollars?

None of these scenarios is particularly attractive and unless you are a saint, not anything you would like to do. (The Lady acknowledges that sometimes your answer will depend on who is doing the asking.)

One of the skills that The Lady thinks is essential for all to know is the art of saying ‘No’ politely, yet firmly. The best way is to say “No, thank you” or even “I’m so sorry, I/we can’t.” The key is to make this statement and then be silent. Say nothing more. The Lady has found that this usually works, but occasionally some pushy person will keep on and ask “Why not?” The answer to this question is “I’m afraid it’s not possible.” And then be silent once more. One does not need to make up an implausible story to justify or explain why you are saying no.

It takes practice. For The Lady it took years of practice and anxious and resentful feelings after saying ‘Yes’ when I meant ‘No’. There is great freedom in this skill!

Best No-No Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

 

Manners Monday: Personal Questions

Cherished readers, The Lady had an interesting discussion with a friend on the subject of personal questions. She was amazed that her daughter-in-law actually answered when someone asked her age. I could sympathize with her surprise, but I also acknowledge that the younger generations are generally much more open about things than we ancients are. (The Lady is not really ancient…but she likes to pretend to be of a different era.)

Even with these more open, free social customs, The Lady believes that the following examples fall into the category of personal questions:

-How much money do you make/have/plan to inherit?

-How much did this cost? How can you afford this?

-When are you going to have children/stop having more children/discipline the children you have?

-What exactly is wrong with your health?

-Why are you getting divorced?

-How much do you weigh? (Ha…you knew that one was going to make the list!)

-Did you have some work done? (Referring to plastic surgery, not work on the house or car)

-Is it real? (Whatever it is…a gemstone, bosom, derriere, hair, etc…)

In all things, cherished readers, discretion is your friend. No probing questions.

Best Manners Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

Why The Approach Was Wrong

Cherished readers, in Monday’s post I commented that I had concerns about the way Mr. Old High School Crush had approached the seeker of advice. I have received two emails asking me to please follow up. Here are my thoughts, for your eager consumption.

The Lady takes exception to:

  1.  Him staring at someone across the room repeatedly and so conspicuously that they notice.
  2. Him approaching the table and asking the lady if she recognized him. Why not say, “Hello, I am Mr. SoAndSo, I believe we went to high school together and wanted to say hello.” Doesn’t that sound better than “Don’t you recognize me?” and putting the innocent party on the spot?
  3. Him standing over a seated person. If an empty chair was at the table, he would have done well to ask permission to be seated. By remaining standing, he called attention to himself and the table.
  4. Him revealing a lady’s age in public by announcing to all gathered what year she graduated from high school. (Oh, the horror!)

Am I being nitpicky in this situation? I don’t believe so. Certainly, having a bit more polish would have been more of a credit to this man. And if he remembered the basic tenets of Putting Others At Ease and Never Calling Attention To Oneself he would have come out smelling like a rose! However, I suppose in his enthusiasm for seeing his old school chum, he forgot and according to the letter, no harm was done. In this case, I will give him the benefit of the doubt. After all, ignoring innocent social flubs should be part of our own code of etiquette.

Best Mannerly Wishes, ‘

The Lady Hooper Brackett

The Lady’s Thoughts On Her Travel Experience

Cherished readers, forgive my absence yesterday. It was a travel day for me as I made my way from The South to The North. (As a non-etiquette related aside, I will say it is hotter and more humid in New England today than it was in Southern Mississippi! A rare occurrence!)

Now, I try to be an easy-going traveler as we are jammed into the Aluminum Tube and we must make do in a small space with hardly any leg room. In those circumstances, we are all suffering and I realize we cannot all be at our best. However as I observed and shared space with my fellow travelers yesterday, it was clear that my flight was to be a lesson in poor manners, indeed.

 

After being seated in my window seat, a trio of males (two college age and one who was their father) sat in the row behind me. They were speaking loudly and sounded as if they were all well into their cups at 930 AM. (So be it) One decided that he wanted to play cards and proceeded to shuffle the cards and bang on the tray table behind me….repeatedly and loudly. My seat was jarred over and over. He also cursed and swore as he talked about their recent trip to Miami. His seatmate now decided to pull out his tablet and play a video without earbuds so that any and all around him had to listen to the movie he was watching.

In our small section, we (which included three young girls traveling with their parents) were subjected to listening to a tirade which included profanity and vulgar names to call women. It was, to say the least, mortifying. And maddening!

My seatmates, an older couple, arrived. Within 20 seconds of being seated, the lady turned around and sternly told the young man to please turn off his movie or use earbuds because listening to the video was annoying and degrading to women. He turned it immediately off. I thanked the woman for her gumption. (Turns out she is a former Catholic School principal!)

Remember how I always say that really the only thing you have to keep in mind about manners and etiquette is CALL NO ATTENTION TO ONESELF? These young men had not learned this lesson yet. Everything they did called the most negative attention to themselves!

I became disheartened to think that the ways of our modern world seem to be all about selfishness and people doing exactly what they want without regard to others comfort or feelings. I sincerely hope that this will change in the future.

Best Travel Wishes,

The Lady Hooper Brackett

Mobile Manners:The Etiquette of Cell Phone Usage

Cherished readers, The Lady cannot begin to list how many times she has been out with Lord Hooper-Brackett and while enjoying a meal, having the peace shattered by a big mouth at the next table having a loud conversation on his cell. Of course these vociferous exchanges are usually precipitated by an obnoxious ringtone playing a vulgar song about liking large derrieres and not being able to lie.

The Lady has pretty much had enough of cell phone use in public and has compiled a list of things that will help you in not being one of ‘those people’ who annoy others when using your cell phone.

  1. Etiquette and manners are about consideration of those around you. If you remember nothing else about manners, remember this: Do Nothing That Will Draw Attention To Yourself. (The Lady says: Please reconsider your public ringtone)
  2. Speak softly and speak quickly.
  3. Do not discuss private topics or other people in a public place. Voices carry.
  4. Do watch your language and do not curse or swear. The Lady hopes you will do this on or off the cell phone!
  5. Do not repeatedly glance at your phone, text, or check the web while you are conversing with others.
  6. Do not be a distracted driver and use the cell while you are driving.
  7. Silence phones in theaters, libraries, churches, schools, meetings….anywhere that people can be disturbed.
  8. If it annoys you when you see others doing it, it annoys others when you do it. Remember that people and relationships matter; be mindful of your habits and control them.

Technology is a wonderful thing…after all, it allows you to read this blog! How we handle the technology is another thing entirely.  The Lady is hopeful that a day will come when everyone in restaurants looks up at the person they are seated across from and not down at their phones.

Best Cell Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett