A DICTIONARY OF ALTERNATIVE
Etiquette is something else. Etiquette' that is a screening device to distinguish who are the Top People Who Know and screening out the 'Utter Dregs' usually makes life more uncomfortable all round. The Top People are condemned to complicated tricks with knives, forks, napkins and who sits where. Those who would like to be Top People get nervous or angry about which fork goes where, and how to address a local knight. Others become inverted snobs and deliberately eat peas with their knives, which is not any easier. Fussing is not real manners.
There is pleasure in being thoughtful and considerate, and pleasure in receiving thoughtfulness and consideration. But young and old have often not thought this through.
The aim of manners is to oil the wheels of living together. You be thoughtful about me, and I am thoughtful about you. But this has not really been thought through by young and old, and it is to young and old that this Book of Manners is directed. Write to me (politely!) about how it needs to be corrected and improved.
Since Behavior is everywhere, all around us, the index is alphabetical rather than listed according to situations, such as Ascot or Buckingham Palace. Where special protocol exists and you want it, turn to another book, for this is not it.
This is the manners book that reaches the behavior that other books don't touch.
Manners are needed all around us, so the index is alphabetical, not listed according to social situations, such as Government House or aerial weddings. If you want special protocol, turn to another book.
Everyone could read the index with profit. Then they could think out for themselves what sort of manners would make life easier for every entry in the index. Students who have been told that Manners is Not Running in the Corridors can pick dozens of topics to discuss and make projects about.
The rest of the book gives further ideas to flesh out your own. Some may not have occurred to you; some are part of your everyday assumptions and behavior. Some attack current assumptions - calling them myths and mistakes (see MYTHS).
Non-sexist language (q.v.) is used in the book, regardless of grammar, e.g. mixing singular and plural pronouns. Many of the ideas in this book may not have occurred to you. Other ideas you feel you were born knowing.
Other ideas attack current assumptions about how to behave, and call them myths and mistakes (see MYTHS).
In a short peppy manual there would be about 3 items per page, but in a full-scale reference book, many items would be one page - but no more. The selection of items would be determined by length of the book.
Some CONTENTS of the Book of Manners for 2000 AD © with some controversial examples
Some examples of entries for Manners 2000, to discuss and amend.
General rules of manners apply - such as waiting to be served in turn, behaving honestly, and being thoughtful and courteous to children.
It is hard for sales staff to tell who are the shoppers who feel neglected if nobody offers to help, and shoppers who resent the interference if anybody does. Shoppers should recognize staff have this dilemma and respond courteously when spoken to.
Do not react to rudeness with rudeness. It is easier on your own nerves and you win points if you stay polite.
People who show off are showing that they are ill-at-ease, and trying to impress as a big feller or a peacock girl - for example youth clowning to each other on trains.
If you feel the urgent need to show off, think of
something constructive to show off (shoff) with, e.g. making model trains or
helping at a club. It is bad
manners to show off when others are upset by what
Some people suffer more with shyness than others.
It can be made an asset - for example, a quiet listener can be appreciated by talkers, and many quiet people have high reputations for good sense that actually talking might spoil.
Thinking about other people can direct attention from your own feelings, or you can enjoy being by yourself. Good manners to shy people is not to tease or make them worse or leave them out in the cold.
Some sorts of social events such as discos seem made for shy people, since nobody can be seen or heard or talked to, and nobody cares what sort of jigging around passes for dancing.
If I could take my own advice about shyness it would help
me a lot.
If you feel the need to sin, it is good manners to pick something that does not hurt anyone else.
It is bad manners to stay away from work you are paid to do, and it may help your organization to go bust and you to lose your job.
If you dislike your work and can't get another job, get the work done as well and as quickly as you can. This can put some interest into the work, while lazing makes it more boring. Some people think of the money they get to add zest to the work.
A sick person should moan and complain as little as possible, except when someone can do something to relieve the problem when they know how you feel. Make it clear when you like to be left on your own and when you desire company - other people cannot guess easily. Say what you like. A sick person should try to be cheerful so that others will feel happy from visiting them and looking after them.
That is their contribution to society.
Well people should be tolerant, since individuals differ in pain thresholds. Neurotics who say they have aches and pains do have them, and a doctor's diagnosis may be wrong. Psychological methods can often help with illnesses of any sort.
Some sick people like to be left on their own, others desire company or to be asked after, at least. It can sometimes be tricky to be aware of what they want unless they say so. Morale is helped in an organization if sick people are contacted and sent good messages or visits.
If a sick person is socially unattractive because sickness changes their appearance, smell or behavior, try to be cheerful if it is you, and try to be friendly to others and help them to be cheerful and bright if it is them. Soured personalities are worse than sicknesses or physical or mental handicaps.
It is not good manners to plead sick to avoid responsibilities. Read Eric Berne on the Wooden Leg game. ('I can't do that because I have a wooden leg.)
It is not good manners for doctors and others to talk about patients as if they cannot hear, even if there appears to be a coma.
It is not good manners for nurses etc. to call elderly people by their first names or nicknames unless they ask for it. Otherwise they are infantilised and will respond by acting more like babies than they need be.
It is not good manners to treat sick people like objects that can be woken up to be given sleeping pills, and organized for the convenience of staff in ways the staff themselves would not like happen to them.
The manners of shoplifting are a controversial topic. Think it out for yourself. All property is theft if you steal it.
Stealing from shops is regarded here as bad manners because it raises prices for everybody else and can send shopkeepers out of business and even bankrupt them.
It is not a good argument to say that the big supermarkets are thieves and robbers and your need is greater than theirs. They do not lose from shoplifting, because they add the costs on to the prices for other shoppers. It is the small shops that go broke. They are the shopkeepers that is often easiest to steal from because they cannot supervise as well, or even pursue because others will steal while they chase.
If 'everyone' is doing it, all the more reason not to add to the collection.
It is particularly reprehensible when people who are not hungry steal rather than pay.
People who get a kick out of stealing should work out other forms of surreptitious excitement - for example, how to do good turns to others without being found out. As a last resort, tell someone else, who can then be like a 'mental police' in your own mind to stop you.
Everyone should get into the habit of never touching goods in shops more than absolutely necessary. Never pick them up over the edge of the shelf. Then you can avoid shoplifting absentmindedly if you have a memory lapse, particularly as you grow older. If everyone does this, it is easier to spot those who are actually thieving.
If you see someone shoplifting, tell them to put it back and watch that they do. If you suspect someone, e.g. a loiterer, tell a shop assistant. If you know someone is a committed thief, think for yourself what you should do that is fair both to them and to everyone else, including yourself.
If your social group steals as a matter of course, or as dares, keep out of it. There are better ways of staying alive. (See The Alternative Householder for what you can do with or without the smell of an oil rag.)
If you as a shopper is asked to show the contents of their bag, agree happily. The shop is trying to keep prices down by preventing stealing, and you show your honesty by your friendly co-operation. Showing resentment suggests you may have something to hide, as well as making unpleasantness for the unfortunate staff, and encouraging others to try to get away with it by being unpleasant too.
Shops suffering from stealing can help to reduce temptation by the way they display their wares. It is very bad manners to tempt into wrong-doing. Large stores can even have plain signs DO NOT STEAL which are psychologically deterring.
Advertisers can reduce the climate for stealing by not having commercials which show people snatching or stealing rather than buying a product. Good manners can be sent up and overdramatised for fun - but bad manners should never be shown.
Here are some of the areas in which
Manners 2000 can set a
that is useful and oils the wheels, instead of setting snobbery, to show up those who don't know the silly ropes.
Commonsense-Community-Conservation-Conservatism- Coughs- Courage-Courtesy-Cowardice- Crime-Culture- Cynicism
Drinking- Drugs-Drunkenness-Duties- Dying
Findings-Football-Foreigners-Freedoms- Frustration- Fuss
Hitch-hiking-Holiness-Home- Honesty- Hospitals- Hosts-Housework-Human Nature-Humour-Hypocrisy-Hysterics
Martyrs- Masculinity- Meals-
Meetings- Mistresses- Mobs- Mocking- Modesty- Mothers-
Planes- Playground-Pleasure- Police- Politics- Poverty- Pregnancy- Prigs-Privacy- Promises- Property-Psychiatry-Punctiliousness-Punctuality-Pupils
7 Deadly Virtues
7 Deadly Sins