So you appear well-raised

Month: December 2018

Baby Showers and a Drought of Good Manners

I don’t know where it got started, this thing of having multiple baby showers, but it has to stop. Let me explain.

Baby showers are in place to give the new mother things she didn’t have, whether that be onesies or advice. You heard me. This is when it is appropriate to have a baby shower:

  1. Your first baby. You have nothing, likely. This is a chance for everyone to shower you with things they find helpful and advice and love.
  2. Subsequent babies of a different sex. Your first was a girl and now you’re having a boy. Fabulous. Have a shower! This is especially useful if you have gender-specific toys, clothes, and decor.
  3. Multiples. You find out a subsequent pregnancy is going to be a bigger bundle of joy than you anticipated. You get to have a shower. You’re going to need a lot. In fact, you might just want to register for diapers.
  4. It’s been more than 5 years since your last child. Presumably, with family planning, you keep baby supplies anticipating you’ll need them for your kids. Sometimes babies take us by surprise. Go ahead and have a shower, since you likely don’t have any supplies from your other children.

So you see, there are very few instances where a shower is necessary. Recently, I’m hearing people talk about “sprinkles”. I don’t agree with them. Why? Because baby showers are not a celebration of the baby, necessarily. They are for the mother to get advice and stuff. So unless it’s one of the aforementioned circumstances, no shower or sprinkle needed. People will argue that every child should be celebrated. You’re right. On their birthday, celebrate them. That’s not what a shower is for.

Also, can we talk about how expensive it is to have a shower (done correctly) in the first place? Very. I’m leery of events looking like gift-grabs, so I’m vehemently against putting out some cheese and crackers while asking for big ticket items like strollers and car seats. Something about that just seems wrong. And if you’re having a shower for each and every child and doing it correctly, you’re running into quite a bit of an expense. So, let me save you some money. Stop.

I’m well aware that folks will disagree with me. That’s fine. But put it like this: older family members – who predated all this sprinkle business – may conveniently forget to send you a gift for violating baby shower etiquette. And now you know why.

Merry Everything, Happy Always

        Once again, the holidays are upon us. Overall, it’s a happy time of year. People spend exorbitant amounts of money on presents for those they love. There’s tons of delicious food and you get to see people you haven’t seen all year.

For me, this time of year is a minefield of egregious etiquette violations. All sorts of foolery going on and I’m just doing my small part to put a stop to it. Of course this is not an exhaustive list, but here’s what’s coming to mind right now.

  1. Not RSVPing to parties. Y’all, we’ve talked about this. You show up to an event, not having told them you were coming and you have sent your host into a tizzy! If you and several other people did that, your host is now in the kitchen lamenting the fact that they need to make a little extra to put out, lest they look cheap, running out of food.
  2. Entertaining in a dirty home. So there was this one time I was invited to a Thanksgiving dinner at an ex’s friend’s house. I showed up and the house was in a terrible state of disarray. Cat hair and clothes everywhere. I’m aware that there’s some dummy reading this that might say, “Well, be grateful you were invited.” To that I say, “HUSH!” Accept nothing less than the best! That mess of a home could not have been this person’s best. Give a little bit of a damn when you invite folks to your space. If you don’t want to clean, just don’t have people there.
  3. Showing up empty-handed. If someone invites you to their home or office party, you better show up with something. I don’t mean one of those dried-out, flavorless, store-bought cakes. Or some bottle of wine that you clearly don’t want to drink. Make something. Buy a decent bottle. Show your host that you are glad to be there and want them to enjoy what you’re bringing.
  4. Bah-humbugging your way through happy times. This time of year can be a sore spot for some. Grief. Loneliness. Social anxiety. The prospect of having to put out so much money. It can be a lot. So, personally, this time of year is a little difficult for me. But you know who it’s not difficult for? Little kids. Look at ’em! They are super happy and love everything about the holidays! So when a wave of unhappiness hits me, I remember back when I was a kid and the holiday was magical. Sometimes, you have to reach back to move forward. Be gentle with yourself and others. But please don’t ruin the season for anyone else.
  5. Getting HR-memo drunk.  You know the sort of behavior I’m talking about. The junior associate getting handsy with Brenda from accounting. The guy who has a few to many and tells the marketing department to kiss his whole ass and makes copies of it for their desks. That guy or gal. Holiday drinks are delicious. That much we know. I’m a fan of a well-spiked eggnog myself. So many delicious flavors and warm yummies. But please, know when to switch to seltzer. Office parties are notorious for that one person who imbibes just a little too much. You really don’t want your holiday party hijinks to be the talk of the office, because it will definitely negatively affect you in the end.
  6. Talking about your calories. I mentioned before that the holidays come with lots of delicious food. Eat it. Or don’t. Look, being health conscious is great and I appreciate your efforts. But no one wants your damn light eggnog. That stuff is vile and you know it. And then, no one wants to hear about how you feel so bad because of what you ate or how you’ll basically have to run to hell to burn the calories off. Eat it or don’t. Work out or don’t. But please do shut up about it.
  7. Regifting bad gifts. If its a candle in a scent that’s lovely,  but just not your style of scent, that’s one thing. But passing along something truly horrid is bad manners. Get rid of it. One year, my grandmother (the queen of “What the hell were you thinking?” gifts) gave my mother salt and pepper shakers that were in the shape of deer. They were brighly and hideously colored. They were way past quirky and just ugly. My mother, faced with gift-giving occasions soon after this horrible gift, did not regift. She quietly tucked away those two ugly deer, only to come out when we all need a laugh. The buck stopped there, thank God.

Please, think about your actions this time of year and govern yourselves accordingly. Don’t make the holidays crappy for someone else just because of your carelessness in adhering to the basic rules of decency.

Just Say No: Don’t Do What Displeases You

Have you ever been asked to take someone to the airport at an ungodly hour (or just in the middle of rush hour), agreed to do it, and loathed everything about it and them? 

Buddy, you should have said no. You can do that, you know. Often, people forget that they have this magical power; the ability to refuse. They run around gleefully accepting tasks and then walk away fuming. WHY?!?! 

Look, I know you can’t reject everything that comes your way, but you can skip the stuff that puts you out or otherwise causes you misery. You have enough obligatory stuff that you can’t do anything about. What I want you to stop doing is accepting tasks that you hate and then talking shit later. I don’t want you doing me any favors while cussing me out under your breath. 

A lot of you think you need a special reason to say “No”. You don’t. I love to tell people, “‘No’ is a complete sentence.” Meaning, you don’t owe anyone an explanation. Of course, if you want to keep things friendly, you can offer up an explanation. It can be as simple as, “I’m busy at that time,” or “I just don’t have the bandwidth to get that done.” That’s it. Don’t make up elaborate stories; you’ll just have to recall the details later and then you’ll look like a schmuck when you get them wrong. 

People who ask favors of others should be aware that the ask is just that: an ASK. The person could say yes or no. Be prepared for either one and deal with it. 

I think the world would be a much happier place if we stopped agreeing to things we didn’t want to. If you want to sprinkle a little Biblical flavor into this, God loves a cheerful giver. If you can’t be happy about it, simply leave it alone. Life’s too short for muttering obscenities under your breath whenever you’re asked to do something. 

Office Etiquette: Rules Not Mentioned in the Employee Handbook

The high cost of real estate, traffic, and emerging technology have caused lots of jobs to be able to be completed from the comfort of one’s home. But while a large percentage of the workforce can literally work in their pajamas, this morning’s commute tells me that there are still lots of folks that must exit their respective domiciles to earn a paycheck.

If you are one of the unlucky ones, there are some things that can make work more bearable. I’m not talking about trendy office supplies (though, that helps!) or a work husband/wife. I’m talking about etiquette. The unspoken rules by which we should all function in order not to claw each other’s eyes out by happy hour.

Here are some things that I thought were pretty basic, but every office has their offenders. Basically, here’s how not to be THAT guy/gal in the office.

1. Can you hear me now? Ringtones are very 2009. So at most, you have that annoying old-timey ringing or maybe some duck sounds. Either way, not everyone in the office needs to hear every time you get a text from your buddies or you get a random call from Sallie Mae. Put the phone on vibrate. If you’re anything like most people, the phone is still close to you and you can still answer it.

2. Your personal jam session. It should be just that – personal. I get that music makes some of us more productive, but no one else in the office may care to hear Yanni At the Acropolis or the entire works of Weird Al Yankovic. Use headphones or earbuds. And then, even those can be so loud that others can hear them. Keep in mind that what gets you going can be a total production killer for someone else. Be respectful and keep it low.

3. Scent sense. We appreciate that you want to smell good. Because trust me, I’ve been in situations where someone obviously didn’t care about how they smelled. The opposite can be just as offensive though. I love smell-goods – perfumes, soaps, lotions, candles, etc. on my own personal time. An office is typically a small space and people can’t escape your smell if they find it unpleasant. Sometimes it’s a matter of quantity. A little dab’ll do ya, but basting oneself in whatever pop star’s latest and not-that-greatest bottled pet project is just bad form. Go easy on the scent at the office and save it for date night.

4. Your kid is not employed there. So why are you forcing their Girl Scout cookies/wrapping paper/overpriced candy on everyone? Look, I want your kid to win that grand prize of a pencil sharpener as much as I want world peace. Really. However, coming around to my desk or sending me an email to cough up money is just awkward. Leave the order form in a common area and walk away. Don’t guilt anyone into buying stuff from your kid.

5. Funky lunch. Again, the office is a small space, shared by many. Last night’s curry salmon might be delicious. But if I’m not the one eating it, it just smells vile and that smell lingers. I can’t tell you what to eat for lunch, but you could try for less smelly foods if you want to be invited to sit with the cool kids at lunch.

None of these infractions will necessarily get you sent to HR, but you can bet they make people think something of you. So while you won’t get fired, you likely won’t be the favorite come promotion time if you’re a bad office mate.

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