Tuesday, July 1, 2014

What You Should Have Learned at Cotillion: Modern Manners

Cotillion.  For many, it probably brings back awkward memories of trying to flirt with boys who were simultaneously tripping over your feet whilst trying to perfect their foxtrot.  Remember when “if he’s mean to you, that means he likes you” was the mantra? Or still is...funny how that works.  Middle school flirtation strategies aside, cotillion sought to instill in us manners and social grace: which knife to use first, how to confidently introduce yourself to adults and how to properly write a thank you note.

Well, I have a confession: I never went to cotillion.  My mother deemed it an out-of-date tradition that she could teach me for free.  “Fork left for Florida!  See, you’ll never forget,” she instructed.  And she’s right, my table setting skills are unparalleled.  I never did learn the foxtrot, though. Regardless, I think it’s time we brush up on our etiquette skills.  It seems some people never learned.

How to Write a Thank You Note:
First step: Actually write one.  Yes, this might sound like the Middle Ages, but people notice and people respect hand-written thank you notes.  And not just for your interviewer.  Write a thank you note when someone gives you a gift -Christmas, birthdays, graduation presents- or simply goes out of their way to do you a favor.  No one is obligated to bestow you with presents, so go ahead and take five minutes to show a little gratitude.  Now if you’re getting fancy, I’d suggest having personalized stationery made, an extremely nice touch and acceptable for any letters.

How to Drive:
If you’re not driving 10+ mph over the speed limit, get out of the left lane.  If you happen to be driving in this acceptable range but notice a speed demon rapidly approaching in your rear view mirror, get out of the left lane.  If you’re changing lanes, accelerate.  No one likes to have to jam on their breaks to avoid Mr. I Haven’t Quite Mastered the Art of Switching Lanes.  Now, these might sound like aggressive demands.  That’s because they are.  But trust me, everyone will benefit.  Other common driving courtesies: waving your hand when someone lets you out of a tricky spot, not stealing someone’s parking lot who has been stalking it out.

How to Be on Time:
Buy a watch.  Set alarms.  Leave early.  Just get there when you said you would.

How to Treat Service Workers:

In the age of the internship, many people seem to have eschewed the typical first job. I'm talking hostess at Olive Garden, cashier at Tutti Frutti and juice connoisseur at Pressed Juicery. Yep, that's me. What these minimum wage jobs will teach you is gratitude. Those serving you are human beings who actually do have lives outside of their shift, so treat them as such. No ordering while on your cell phone, no demanding to speak with the manager after waiting merely five of the twenty minute estimated wait time and finally no letting your children run rampant in the middle of a busy store. Get it? Got it? Good.

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