Thursday, July 5, 2012

Thar She Blows!

Just as I was pondering what to write about this week, I received this question from a reader.

“This happened yesterday, in fact. I was having lunch with a friend from church (albeit, he reached out to me in despair so I'm hardly going to judge him right now). But, it’s still gross.

“My partner's mother thinks I "don't like tissues" because I don't have boxes of them around my home, other than in the appropriate bathroom spots! His family thinks nothing of giving a good blow and putting the tissue in the pocket for another time -- and then going ahead with a meal! Nice people, but, again, still gross.

“Thankfully, I raised my children to respect manners and other people's feelings. When my daughter was 13 she told me she was going to open a restaurant where, on the door, she would post a photo of a nose and tissue with the red circle with the line through it, and other with a picture of a bratty kid crying with the same circle and line. It makes me smile.”

Let’s face it; no one finds the sight and sounds of someone blowing one’s nose attractive. In fact, most of us find it off putting. I have always suggested that if one needs to catch a surprise sneeze, then one has few choices. However, excusing oneself and repairing to privacy should be the very next move. This is a function of personal grooming and should not be shared.

I was at an airport today waiting for my plane and watched a man walk over to join a friend in the waiting area. Bad enough that he showed up with a smelly breakfast sandwich, but prior to eating that he pulled out a napkin and blew his nose just inches from his friend. Before pulling the food out of the bag, he jammed the used napkin in it. I was grossed out. I can only imagine how is friend must have felt. Lucky me got to sit next to this man on the plane! Needless to say, I did not strike up a conversation.

While on the subject of eating in public waiting areas, I can’t believe I am the only one who finds the smells that come from those closed Styrofoam containers, when opened, offensive. I don’t like them in movie theatres and although I understand that with the advent of no food served onboard airplanes these days, I find it annoying for someone to plunk him or herself down next to me, and start eating take away food. Perhaps I am just an old stick in the mud, but I think it is an invasion of my space. I have the same objection in shared office space.

In another even more overt display that left me utterly astounded, a man excused himself from a conversation with two friends. He was sitting in between them. He returned with a container of salad replete with stinky dressing, plunked himself back down between his two colleagues and proceeded to gobble down his salad as though it was de rigeur. Sensing he may have been offending them, he did make the effort to lean forward so they did not have to speak through him. He wasn’t going to let munching his meal stand in the way of joining right back into the conversation, chatting with his mouth full. Somewhere along the way, he had missed a few manners lessons. These three people were on their way to a conference and were employees of a well-known brokerage firm.

This is an example of how one can damage a company’s reputation even when they are seemingly off-duty! I was so close to opening up a conversation about business etiquette, but not wanting to break rules of decorum myself, I refrained.

I hope people will take the time to be more aware of the impact they have on those around them. I wonder if this man were traveling with his boss, would he have behaved like this? I would hope not. Are we moving at such a high speed that we have lost all concept of the effect our interactions with other people has on them? If so, we need to slow down and smell the roses, but sans used hankies and smelly eats!