Post Emily Post: A Few Thoughts on Modern-Day Manners

Post Emily Post: A Few Thoughts on Modern-Day Manners

The other day my mother was reminiscing about the first time she saw someone (gasp!) eating fruit salad with a fork.

Apparently, this sight was seared into her brain. Thirty-five years later she could tell me exactly where she (and who the offender) was.

These days, social rituals have changed quite a bit. That said, I do think good manners still have infinite wow-potential.

With this in mind, I thought back on the last few days during which I noted a few modern-day missteps that seemed worth a post.

On the wow-side, I also found everlasting manner-nirvana in Home Depot (Yes, it’s true!) where a well-phrased response to an offhand question had me smiling for days.

So, first the mis-steps, then the manners:


Last Friday I was in the quiet car on Amtrak and everyone was, indeed, being quiet. Everyone, that is, but the group in the seats next to me: they were having a loud conversation on why you never see anyone doing body shots off of plump people on TV or in the movies.

Now on the one hand, it was a riveting conversation (in that conversational-rubbernecking kind of way) On the other, it’s the quiet car.

What to do? In situations of this kind, I recommend sticking to facts, not feelings. So, instead of “This conversation is preposterous—not to mention this is the quiet car,” I went with, “The quiet car has a no-conversation policy.”

Please Don’t Flick My Pics:

A close friend recently went on a first date on which the gentleman very kindly asked to see a picture of her dog. After looking at that, he began flicking through the other photos on her phone.

While his intentions may have been good, the result made her uncomfortable– compelling her to say, “Um…please don’t flick through my pictures.”

Flicking through others’ pictures without first asking if you may is not endearing, it’s invasive. If you’d like to see additional photos, hand back the phone and ask, “Do you have any other pictures you’d like to show me?”

Sometimes Second Place is the Winner

This past weekend my friend, David, and I loaded up the dolly at Home Depot in the most preposterous way imaginable. As we humped and bumped through the sliding doors—cabinetry parts slithering in all directions—I commented to the Home Depot gentleman at entrance,

“Can you think of a worse way to load a dolly?”

He considered for a moment and said,

“Well, there’s probably one worse way to load a dolly. Let’s say this is the second worst way.”

The tact! The diplomacy! I was charmed. My dolly might have gotten second place, but I thought this response was a winner.

I look forward to your thoughts on the modern-day mishaps, and marvelous manners, you run into.