Thursday, February 19, 2009

Why You Shouldn't Talk on Your Cell Phone in Public

Doughy Pillsbury Lawyer Demonstrates Why You Should Shut Up on Your Cell Phone
By Hamilton Nolan, 3:42 PM on Thu Feb 19 2009, 11,246 views

It sucks to find out you're getting laid off. It sucks a lot worse to find out you're getting laid off because a lawyer yakked about it at high volume on a commuter train.

Seems that a fella—a law firm partner!—riding a crowded train from DC was talking on his cell phone so loud that a nearby law student overheard him, took down the details, and leaked it all to legal blog Above the Law. And he was talking about layoffs. That were secret. Shucks:

His conversation, though he stressed how necessary it was to be kept secret (ah, the irony), detailed the current plans of Pillsbury to lay off somewhere in the range of 15-20 attorneys from four offices by the end of March, including a few senior associates with low billable hours and two or three first-year associates...What's more, he was NAMING NAMES over the phone!

Ha, and then ATL blogger David Lat deviously confirmed it by emailing the lawyer, Robert Robbins, and saying his name was "Jennifer Everett," and hey, were you on the train yesterday? He was! Now the law firm has apologized. A few simple reminders:

o Shut up on the train, on your phone, and especially on your phone on the train.
o Everybody is sending everything to bloggers at all times.
o That mystery girl who emailed you out of the blue saying she saw you somewhere is definitely scamming you somehow.
o Lawyers, Law students, law bloggers: not a trustworthy one in the bunch.
o Again, just shut up.

Read More: Etiquette, Lawyers, Law, Talking, manners, Layoffs, Public Relations, jerks, Commuting

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Why Etiquette Matters

Updated 12/26: Why etiquette matters
Recommended (1)

December 26, 2008
By Kathleen Thometz

I recently read nearly all of Emily Post's Etiquette (17th edition) for a school project. This recent interest in proper behavior started when I began reading Emily Post's biography by Laura Claridge coupled with the fact that I began commuting by train to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago last January. I was appalled by cell phone usage on the train. One person yakking on his or her cell phone on a quiet train car can ruin the ride for other commuters. I've had to listen to one-sided conversations about everything from a cell phone offender's brilliant child, to professions of undying love, business deals, medical procedures and horrible coworkers.

I was recently in the check-out line in Costco when I was subject to the cell phone conversation of the woman behind me. She was gabbing about her upcoming tummy tuck and breast expansion surgery. She proceeded to tell her friend that she was OK with people knowing about the new bosom but not the tummy tuck. I turned to her and mouthed the words, "I know about it." She rolled her eyes and looked away. Little did she know that I would be writing about her in the local paper!

My first encounter with Emily Post was 17 years ago when I received her book as a gift after becoming engaged. It has become our bible for social survival! My husband and I have used it to solve disagreements, plan parties and direct us in how to deal with sticky situations. We had cousin who added extra guests on the reply card for our wedding. The book instructed us to write a note informing him that just he and his wife were invited. Problem solved.

I learned a lot from the book, mainly that I am often in breech of the gentle rules of etiquette. I never put my shopping cart away. I spit in the street when I go running and I have been known to use foul language in public. These last two offenses are in Ms. Post's top 10 rudest behaviors! I also share way too much information about myself -- things better left said to my doctor or a mental health professional. I have taken steps to rectify my worst breeches of etiquette but have yet to take a total inventory. Aside from learning what is considered gracious behavior in polite society, the most powerful thing that struck me in the book was the following quote:

"Grounded as it is in timeless principles, etiquette enables us to face whatever the future may bring with strength of character and integrity. This ever-adaptive code of behavior also allows us to be flexible enough to respect those whose beliefs and traditions differ from our own. Civility and courtesy (in essence, the outward expressions of human decency) are the proverbial glue that holds society together -- qualities that are more important than ever in today's complex and changing world." (Page 6, Emily Post's Etiquette, 17th edition)

So, for 2009, I plan to finish taking inventory, clean up my act and become the Elmer's in my little slice of the world!

-- Kathleen Thometz of Western Springs is a contributing columnist for The Doings.
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Could we be a little more polite, please?

A new year's resolution: Could we be a little more polite, please?
2008 saw an increased amount of rudeness. This New Year we should try to make common courtesy rather more common.

By Michael Deacon
Last Updated: 4:32PM GMT 01 Jan 2009

Comments 13 | Comment on this article
Horror movie: many find it acceptable to use their mobile phones in places like cinemas these days - A new year's resolution: could we be a little more polite please
Horror movie: many find it acceptable to use their mobile phones in places like cinemas these days.

Two years ago I was travelling by train from London to Edinburgh to spend Christmas with my family. All the seats were taken, so I had to stand in the aisle. I wasn't the only one. Standing a few feet away from me was an elderly man who looked familiar. The sergeant-major posture, the aquiline nose, the forbidding brow of an Easter Island monolith: Jack Charlton.

I was surprised. Not because I'd found myself sharing a standard-class train carriage with a much-loved former footballer, but because no one offered him a seat. A lot of the seats in the carriage were occupied by young men wearing football tops. Clearly, they liked football – and yet, just as clearly, they didn't like football enough to give up their seat to a man who had once helped their country to win the World Cup. Charlton, who was then aged 71, stayed on the train until it reached Newcastle. The journey took around three hours. He spent every minute on his feet, completing a crossword puzzle in a newspaper he had no surface to rest on.

I was surprised at the time. I don't think that I would be now. Because in 2008, Britain as a nation became ruder than ever. And I'm not even talking about the kind of rudeness that prompted Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand to leave chortlingly obscene messages on the answering machine of a blameless actor. I'm talking about bad manners.

More and more last year, it seemed that many of us thought it our right to offend or inconvenience others. We considered consideration beneath us. Today, as we decide on our New Year's resolutions for 2009, being more polite would make an excellent choice.

We know that Britain has got ruder because all the signs are there – literally. In overground railway stations there are now notices begging passengers not to assault train staff. In stations on the London Underground there are similar ones pleading with passengers to let others off the train first, not to push each other, not to use seats for their bags. It's bewildering that we should need to be told these things, yet evidently we do. What's next, "Please don't steal", "Please try not to kill each other"?

The latest technology has also brought us innumerable new opportunities to be rude – and look how often we take them. The mobile phone, for instance. In 2008, it became an everyday occurrence to spend a bus or train journey inwardly groaning as some halfwit of a fellow passenger broadcast music through the tinny loudspeakers of their mobile. It was also common to see a customer at a checkout in a shop, babbling on their mobile while an assistant served them.

Then there's the internet. The internet is in many ways informative and entertaining, a revolutionary news resource. But as a means of communication it has become a mouthpiece not only for the decent majority but for the malicious minority.

Go to YouTube and search for a video featuring your favourite singer. Below it, read the comments posted by other visitors to the site. Among them there's almost certain to be an eruption of insults based on the singer's character, intelligence, gender, sexuality, nationality or religion. Other visitors, more often than not, will have leapt to the singer's defence – usually by posting messages insulting the original visitor's character, intelligence, gender, sexuality, nationality or religion. On the internet, people now feel at liberty to taunt others in a way they'd never dare do in person – or so you'd hope, anyway.

And while many of the latest electronic means of communication were created to bring us closer together, they are also cutting us off from each other. If you're reading your emails on an iPhone while walking down the street – an increasingly widespread habit last year – you may be keeping up with friends and colleagues, but you're oblivious to pedestrians around you.

However, these new means of communication have succeeded in achieving one thing: they have given us the impression that we are entitled to get whatever we want, as quickly as we want it. Listen to music, check your emails, make some telephone calls – whenever and wherever you like. Being spoilt in this way means that, when we find ourselves experiencing the least inconvenience, we feel affronted, as if our rights were being trampled on.

A long queue at the cash machine, being kept on hold when telephoning the bank, waiting more than 10 seconds to cross a busy road – it's almost a reflex, these days, to take such trifles personally. A phenomenon of the Nineties was road rage. Today, I'm sure that more and more of us feel pavement rage. There are too many people and they're in our way.

More than a million members of Facebook have joined a group on the website, called "I Secretly Want to Punch Slow Walking People in the Back of the Head". Getting angry, in this irrational and impotent manner, only makes us ruder. Either we barge other pedestrians out of our path or we snap, "Excuse me" in a tone more appropriate to a curse.

Perhaps the biggest problem is that rudeness is, in some quarters, no longer something to be ashamed of; it's applauded. This is an attitude fed by reality television. We see it in every series of The Apprentice and Big Brother. Again and again, contestants who have said something tactless or insulting will protest that they're merely being "honest", while contestants who politely try to conceal their dislike of others are dismissed as "two-faced".

Last year, it was announced that lessons in good manners were to be introduced to schools. As long as teachers drop the waffle (the classes are to promote "emotional and social intelligence", apparently), this sounds a useful idea. Well, if you overlook the inevitable flaw: the pupils most likely to pay attention to such lessons are the ones who already have good manners. The ones with bad manners, naturally enough, will ignore them.

But how can we expect the adult world to become any more polite in 2009 – as the recession's grip tightens, businesses collapse and jobs and houses are lost? If we were irascibly inconsiderate in the boom years, goodness knows how we'll treat each other in the lean years.

Let's try to look at it in a more positive way. The less that we have, maybe the more we'll realise the importance of manners, of thoughtfulness, of common decency. In a time of pessimism, that would be one thing to hope for. As life gets crueller, perhaps we'll get kinder.

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Comments: 13


Rudeness comes from thinking that you can do as you please, regardless of the laws or rules of society.
We've kicked the Ultimate Ruler out of our lives - why should we have any more concern for His creation?
on January 01, 2009
at 06:49 PM
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I've been to London, three times on business, twice in the 90s, once this decade. It was always the absolute rudest place I have EVER been to. New York City has nothing at all to those idiots there.
on January 01, 2009
at 06:49 PM
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Rudeness comes from thinking that you can do as you please, regardless of the laws or rules of society.
We've kicked the Ultimate Ruler out of our lives - why should we have any more concern for His creation?
on January 01, 2009
at 06:49 PM
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You have hit the nail on the head! I have done some blogging on different sites this year. I was surprised at the hatred out there. What has happened to us?
on January 01, 2009
at 06:48 PM
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The Gospel of Jesus Christ, sometimes taught in church, is the antidote to rudeness and selfishness. Daily reading of the scriptures and weekly church attendance would impress upon us the admonition to treat our neighbors as ourselves, and to repent for not doing so.

Christian disciples are trained to look for opportunities to serve and sacrifice on behalf of others. I wonder how many on that train would have have described themselves as "devout" Christians.

Our Latter-day Saint missionaries (Mormon) give hundreds of hours of service to the community for free - or more accurately - at their own expense. So if you need help raking leaves, carrying groceries, or even need a seat on a train - just ask a missionary who will be more than happy to give up his seat for you.
on January 01, 2009
at 06:48 PM
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I think Britain is at the bottom of the league when it comes to politeness. Having visited both Australia and the United States in the past couple of years a a tourist, I found the people of both to be infinitely more polite and helpful than in this country (and nothing like the impression that I'd obtained from films and TV).
Two instances stick in my mind:
In Melbourne, we had trouble finding the correct train needed to visit our friends in the suburbs - asking the driver of a train who was going off duty, he went out of his way and walked round with us to the appropriate platform to make sure we caught the right one. I'm sure at a British terminus it would be "How the H***** would I know, I only drive the B***** things"
In San Francisco, I was trying to take a picture of my wife across a a crowded sidewalk against a particular background, and was waiting for a gap in the crowds, when a passer by put up his hands and said "Hey, every one stand still for a moment, there's a guy here trying to take a photo". Everyone did, no one gave the reply I'd expect here of "Who the F**** are you ordering about".
During my visits to both countries I don't remember hearing a single swear word, nor did I meet anyone whom I considered to be rude.
Contrary to some peoples' belief, being polite is not being subservient - no one could say that either the Americans or the Australians allow themselves to be pushed around.
Brian E.
on January 01, 2009
at 06:48 PM
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I agree with Michael Morris- the time to be polite is over if face of everything we face. If we submit and be nice about it we will be left with facism and tyranny and the end of this crises.
on January 01, 2009
at 06:47 PM
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Movies? How 'bout anywhere. Who wants to listen to YOU? Probably, not even who you are on the phone with.
on January 01, 2009
at 05:40 PM
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I can't speak for the whole of the UK, but after spending three months in London back in the fall of 2000 I came home to New York with an impression of the city as being the rudest I've ever been to. Everyone knows that reputation belongs to my home city, but the consensus amongst the New Yorkers is that the London populous has less manners. It's funny because you can tell people believe they're being polite when all they're really doing is speaking proper English. Bravo on the grammar, but how about some manners? If they have become less polite in the 8 years since my visit, they must be down right barbaric now.
on January 01, 2009
at 05:40 PM
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on January 01, 2009
at 05:39 PM
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Amen! It isn't just Britain. Just look at the drivers over here. Especially the ones on cell phones!
Joe Maloof
on January 01, 2009
at 05:39 PM
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Politeness and civility can be introduced easily at the top - by using courtesy titles when referring to individuals in news articles, and by dropping the term "consumer" and replacing it with "person". Most of us read, and words have power.
on January 01, 2009
at 05:38 PM
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stay polite and let corporatism and fascism rule.

stay polite and let victims of one holocaust create another holocaust.

not for me, thanks - sorry I couldn't be more rude.
michael morris
on January 01, 2009
at 05:36 PM
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Monday, December 22, 2008

Grocery Store Do’s & Don’ts
(Emily Post’s Etiquette, p. 31-32)
1. Follow express lane rules
2. New check-out lane, don’t dash to front
3. Return item to proper place
4. Bag your own stuff, if there is no bagger
5. Make your items accessible to cashier
6. Use Dividers
7. If you break an item let employee know
8. Treat your cashier respectfully
9. Take special care with large carts
10. Don’t block traffic in aisles
11. Don’t dash back for more items while in the checkout line.
12. Don’t push the items of other customers
13. Don’t put your $ on the conveyor belt
14. Don’t overuse cell phone in store
15. Don’t leave cart in parking space

Today’s Rudest Behaviors

Today’s Rudest Behaviors
(Emily Post’s Etiquette, p. 39)

1. Telling ethnic or rude jokes
2. Using 4-letter words in public
3. Loud cell phone conversations in public
4. Treating service industry people without respect
5. Allowing your children to run wild
6. Road Rage, aggressive, unsafe driving
7. Abusing coaches, referees, or other players
8. Fouling sidewalks with spit, dog poop or trash
9. Charging thoughtlessly through crowds
10. Butting into checkout lines or parking spaces
11. Lighting up in a room full of non-smokers
12. Not giving up your seat for a needy person

Walking Etiquette

Walking Etiquette
(Emily Post’s Etiquette, p. 21)

1. Be aware of others when pushing stroller, or pulling suitcase.
2. If you must, talk quietly on your cell
3. No sudden stopping, pull off to the side
4. No slow, meandering walking
5. Large groups should allow others to pass
6. Move to the side if you want to stop and chat
7. No Spitting!
8. No texting, pull off to the side.

Smart Shopping

Smart Shopping
(Emily Post’s Etiquette, p. 31)

1. At the cash register, get your money out before you are rung up. It keeps the line moving.
2. Keep children under control!
3. Keep cell phone use to a minimum.
4. Never talk on cell phone when you are paying for a purchase, it is disrespectful to the cashier.