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100DC Day 82: Etiquette and Civility

100 Day Challenge: Etiquette and CivilityMy husband and I like movies. After a hectic week of working, we love to grab some popcorn and settle down in a theater to watch a great flick.

Enter the modern age of incivility.

Almost without exception, watching movies in a theater includes other patrons who:

  • Talk out loud to their friends.
  • Talk on their phones.
  • Text or otherwise shine their phones in your face.
  • Come in late, leave more than needed, climbing across you.
  • Make loud crinkling or munching noises with non-theater approved treats.
  • Kick seats in front of them.
  • Let their kids make noise, talk, or cry.

Look, I have six kids. I know the score. I’ve missed more than my share of movies while out pacing the halls with a restless infant or toddler. But here’s the key: I missed the movies out in the hall. I didn’t make all the other movie patrons miss the movie because my kids were being disruptive.

When you have a child who may not make it through a movie with appropriate etiquette — and you take him or her to the movie anyway — you run the risk of not seeing the movie because you need to take them out. That’s the appropriate response and if you’re not willing to take that chance, get a babysitter!

A couple of years ago, Sam and I attended a movie in a nearly empty theater. About ten minutes into the main feature — long after the trailers were done — a group of five elderly women came in. They were talking full voice, continuing a conversation that began in the hall. They bantered about where to sit. They sat and moved and changed seats multiple times. After about two minutes of the commotion, I turned around and asked them to speak more quietly.

How did the grandmas respond? They threw popcorn at me. True story, I swear.

How did I respond? I turned back around and said, “Seriously?”

That ended it, but I would not have hesitated to get the management if it had continued. (Thank you, Betty White, for proving that senior citizens can be just as idiotic and crass as any teenager.)

Etiquette is a powerful, practical, and profitable skill that you can use when it counts most: to get a job, to keep a job, and to succeed at a job.

My husband is an engineer. To be more specific, he has a PhD in electrical engineering. To be clear, he’s a nerd who’s usually surrounded by other nerds. Now there’s nothing wrong with being a nerd — I married one, after all — but very often with there is an inverse scale between science intelligence and social intelligence. Read that to mean that sometimes geniuses have no clue how to talk to people, how to eat around them, how to dance, or how to appropriately respond to typical social cues.

While these intellectual giants/social misfits may have the ability to solve extraordinary problems, they often don’t get the chance until they can overcome their problems with ordinary human interaction, including following a typical set of good manners. If you gross our your potential employer during the interview dinner, you may never get in the front door.

Fortunately, my husband seemed to have escaped this geek malady for the most part. But he kind of stood out in his graduate school class. In a good way.

Join me in the 100 Day Challenge!

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