Open Thread

by epi on December 13, 2011

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeanne December 13, 2011 at 12:55 am

I have both “Emily Post’s Etiquette,” by Peggy Post and “The Etiquette Advantage in Business,” by Peggy Post and Peter Post, and refer to them frequently. I have a question, however, on something that has puzzled me for years.

On page 380 of “Emily Post’s Etiquette,” the informal place setting diagram includes a teaspoon and the following description: “Spoons go to the right of the knife. A soupspoon (used first) goes farthest to the right, and a teaspoon (and sometimes a dessertspoon) between the soupspoon and the knife.” This is confusing because it belies the select-utensils-from-the-outside-in rule, as the dessert course is last, or at least after one would use one’s table knife. Would you kindly clear this up, as I am not the only one baffled by this table setting.

Thank you very much.

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Winifred Rosenburg December 13, 2011 at 11:39 am

The teaspoon and all other utensils intended to be used during dessert should not be part of that table setting at all. After the main course is complete, the host would collect everything on the table and pass out all the dessert-related plates, utensils, etc. If for some reason you don’t want to pass out the tea cups later, I would recommend leaving the cups with the spoons on the saucers to the upper left of the plate.

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Melissa December 13, 2011 at 4:44 pm

I was at a seminar for parents of children with anxiety. During the question and answer period, where some people were asking personal questions regarding their child, I noticed the lady two seats over was recording the seminar on her IPhone. Afterwards, I let the lady running the seminar know in the hopes that she would request her to delete her recording. I believe she did, as it is definitely a privacy violation, but is there any way I should have handled it on my own? I can only imagine this sort of thing happens often these days, with many people having devices that could be recording conversations without anyone knowing.
Thanks in advance for your input.

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Just Laura December 13, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Melissa, I think you did everything correctly. Approaching the person in charge is best.

Recording conversations where one or both parties is unaware of the recording is illegal (of course it varies by state). That said, in this case, one party knew about the record (the woman using her iPhone). However, if this was a public seminar, there appears to be no rule against recording the meeting since theoretically anyone could have attended and witnessed those parents asking about their children (public meetings aren’t protected by HIPAA or FERPA).

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Elizabeth December 13, 2011 at 5:21 pm

I think you did the right thing by taking your concern to the person in charge of the seminar. It could have escalated if you approached the recorder yourself, and it’s better of a person in a position of authority delivers that kind of request. I think in the future, you could ask the person in charge to make an announcement that recordings are not allowed, or they are only allowed with the express permission of everyone in the group. Or, you as a participant could raise your hand during or just after the introduction and say something to that effect – “I know people in the past have recorded these sessions, and I just want to make it clear that I am not comfortable with being recorded, so if anyone is, please identify yourself or turn off the device.”

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Zakafury December 14, 2011 at 10:39 am

Legally, it is not a privacy violation. The people giving the seminar, for instance, could have recorded the entire thing for publication without informing silent audience members. To use a recording of someone’s questions in published material would require expressed consent – a youtube post of this video would be questionable, but I do not think someone speaking publicly about their child would be protected.

The best legal footing for requesting the recording be destroyed is on copyright, not privacy grounds. This is a good reason to go to the organizer, rather than as the person to stop recording.

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Karen December 13, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Typed or handwritten Thank You notes. I am a mother of a ballet dancer for a company. We send out Thank you notes to vendors that have supported the ballet. I am old fashioned whereas I do believe Thank you notes should be sent out. However, is it improper to run these through my printer, with the names of the supporter and amount and then actually sign them? Or should I hand write everyone of them??
There are approximately 50. I just like things to be neat but didn’t want them to be insincere.

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Pam December 13, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Ideally, they would be handwritten. Perhaps you and your daughter could split them and you would each do 25?

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Just Laura December 13, 2011 at 8:49 pm

…or son. ;)

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Alicia December 14, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Do 10 a day. 50 notes all at once is a hard and dificult chore that at the end is hard to be still thankful but if you write 10 a day even break it up 5 in morning 5 in evening it is easy to still be greatful while getting the thank you notes writen and not having writers block. You will have them all done in five days or less. Additionally your son or daughter helping with half would briong that number even smaller.

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cas December 14, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Recently went to a wedding reception, with assigned tables. We were assigned the same table as my brother/sister in law. Next to them were 2 name tags (I did not recognize the names). My husband and brother are very close. We waited awhile and the other couple did not come to the table, so I moved the purse and name tags one seat to the right. We did not sit yet, but waited until they did show up and asked if that would be okay. The woman seemed a bit flustered (80 year old), so I offered to move back. She opted to stay there. I have since been told that she told everyone how rude I was and that it ruined her whole evening. Mind you, I had offered to move back. Also, since she was elderly, and I realized it flustered her, I was extremely nice to her throughout the dinner, pouring her tea, and passing everything to her before I took anything. Did I do something so terrible that it should be talked about for a week now? I was very sorry to hear she has been talking about this with such anger…I am pretty well known for being kind and very low key and quiet. I had no idea I had made such a faux pas. Your thoughts?

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Winifred Rosenburg December 14, 2011 at 3:57 pm

A week of complaining seems excessive, but yes you shouldn’t have done that. Since seats were assigned, as a good guest you should go with the seat that was assigned to you. It’s possible the host placed you in that arrangement for a reason and you shouldn’t question it. If it makes you feel better, it is just as rude if not more so to tell everyone that you ruined her evening.

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Country Girl December 14, 2011 at 4:49 pm

You committed a no-no, but this woman must be a very lucky person if the worst thing to happened to her in an entire week was this small inconvenience of sitting over one chair at a celebration. Sounds like a good week in my book! =) I do feel for you though as she has now made you the antagonist of her stories. One of my grandmothers tends to pull this same little “trauma” routine with what most people consider small incidences. She once made a point to bring up to me that one of my cousins didn’t dust her toilet paper holder, as it it was the worst thing she could do. (I sometimes wonder if she doesn’t actually secretly appreciate having a “controversial topic” of conversation to bring up since she lives alone and doesn’t have much else going on.) Don’t worry though, I’m sure when this woman is telling her story will be more revealing of her than of you. Her conversation partners will likely do as I did with my grandma; listen, smile and think to themselves “What a silly thing to take issue with.”

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Elizabeth December 14, 2011 at 6:54 pm

From your letter, it doesn’t sound as though the actual seats were assigned, only that they got there earlier and claimed seats next to where your in laws were sitting. If they hadn’t moved, it sounds like you and your husband would have been separated at the table, which doesn’t make sense at all. Moving down one seat is no big deal, and as you said this woman’s age probably has a lot to do with her being flustered (or maybe she’s been a pill her entire life). I wouldn’t give it another though. If anyone brings it up to you, just say “Yea, I’m really sorry that Mrs. X reacted so strongly. We just really wanted to sit near our in laws and we only moved her down one seat.” Then shrug and drop it.

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kris December 14, 2011 at 7:51 pm

I have 2-3 friends come to my house every week with their children for a 3-hr playgroup. We’ve known each other for over 2-1/2 years. The one friend picked up knitting about a year ago, and knits nearly the entire time she is here. I find this rude, and finally commented on it today. It was a little awkward, and she laughed it off slightly, but off and on proceeded to knit. What is your take on this? For me, it’s a little like “half” watching a TV show when friends are visiting.

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Winifred Rosenburg December 15, 2011 at 11:54 am

Are the adults socializing part of this event? If so, then it is rude. It’s sort of like texting while having a conversation, which is a pet peeve of mine.

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Alicia December 15, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Well I am not sure I agree with Winifred. It sort of depends a bit on the situation. If you are all just kinda sitting around very casual and she is knitting without having to look at her knitting much and she is effectively sitting chatting while figiting with her knotting then that is not rude. There is long history of women socializing while knitting or sewing.
If you guys are not socilizing but just sitting blandly watching the kids it is not rude.
Now if she is not a good enough knitter to knit mindlessly while having a conversation or if she is avoiding the adult socilizing by focusing on the extra knitting rather then being part of the social group then it is rude.
So a lot depends on how exactly things are going on.
I’m not sure what Emily would say but I suggest this second half of this Miss Manners article.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/miss-manners-not-every-rite-of-passage-is-supposed-to-be-fun/2011/07/14/gIQAcUOvjI_story.html

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Rosie December 17, 2011 at 12:19 am

What do you advise regarding thank you notes when somebody has given you a card. I am a teacher and get many fun trinkets for Christmas from students, as well as gift cards, and also a few plain cards with messages. Do I write thank you notes for those who gave just a plain card?

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