We Need a Refresher on Manners

It's been so long since I've gotten together with other people for a social event, I've forgotten most of the rules.

There are so many etiquette niceties I need to reacquaint myself with; I'm worried I'll commit some small faux pas the next time I'm with friends.

Like, when I'm at a dinner party, can I just hop right up on the table and forage through the food, or do I have to wait for the hostess to jump up first?

Also, when I run outside to relieve myself in the backyard, should I knock before I re-enter?

Apparently, I'm not the only one who's forgotten the rules. Kia Motors recently surveyed 2,000 adults in the UK and found that many of us are in a similar situation.

I knew a guy, the CEO of a large multinational company, who would regularly fart in other people's homes. Everyone just ignored it and pretended they hadn't heard anything, sort of like "The Emperor's New Fart." Since no one said anything, he assumed he got away with it and continued to do so, no matter whose house he was at. He's probably still doing it for all I know.

Even though we've learned the rules, there are a shocking number of people who don't think they need to follow them.

For example, of the 2,000 people surveyed, 20 percent of them think it's acceptable to walk into someone else's house without removing their shoes (#15 on Kia's list). I never thought this was a big deal when I was a kid. But my parents would yell at me if I took a single step into the house with my shoes on.

(They never knew I used to wear my roller skates inside when they were at work.)

As I got older, I started thinking about the things we all step in — animal deposits, toxic waste spewed out of cars, and mysterious wet spots in public restrooms — and now I understand why my parents were so neurotic about it.

Now I have no problems telling people to take their shoes off when they visit. No exceptions. I don't care if you have a hole in your sock.

Another statistic that surprised me is that only one in four people say you should never poo in someone else's home (#13).

Seriously? That's rule number two in my house (pun intended). Rule number one is no shoes, rule number two is no poos. That's a personal activity that needs to be done in the sanctity of your own home and never, ever in anyone else's, especially mine.

I can allow a small breach of etiquette if there's an emergency, however. If you're experiencing gastrointestinal distress, it's perfectly acceptable to excuse yourself and drive to the McDonald's a mile from my house.

What about showing up at your host's house late? That clocked in at #12 on Kia's list, placing one higher than the poo thing.

(I still find that shocking. More people would rather you. . . "left something behind" than showed up late for their dinner party?)

British etiquette expert William Hanson — a British expert on etiquette, not an expert on British etiquette — said in a statement, "Nothing is more annoying than guests who turn up late — possibly ruining the host's timings for the meal and protracting their effort."

Seriously, nothing is more annoying? According to Kia's list (which is on my website at ErikDeckers.com), there are 11 things more annoying, including wearing your shoes, wiping your slimy hands on my sofa, and going upstairs without asking, but you, William Hanson, think the top item on everyone's list is showing up 20 minutes late to dinner?

That's a given when you invite people over. You assume people will be late, so don't expect to serve dinner right at the appointed time. Build a one-hour buffer in there.

Besides, if you're inviting people who wear shoes in the house and put their feet on the furniture, you're probably not hosting a fancy meal in the first place. Just call up the pizza delivery guy and ask them for extra pepperoni.

Only one in ten have no problem asking someone for the wifi password within 30 minutes of arriving.

"Asking for the wifi password is a modern manners sin," said Hanson. "Unless there is a very good reason to use your host's wifi, you are there to socialize with your host and their family, not the people on your phone."

The Sun article suggested that it's more appropriate to wait 50 minutes before asking for the wifi password.

Why "50 minutes?" Why not just round up to a full hour? Nothing critical will happen in those ten minutes. If it does, just use your phone's cellular data to check it out. If it's not worth using the cellular data, then it probably wasn't that important.

There aren't many rules you need to get reacquainted with as the pandemic restrictions are lifting. Think back to the rules you had when you were a kid, and follow those.

Because I'm completely serious about the no poo rule. I'll let you wear your shoes in my bed before I relax that rule.


The worst things to do as a guest (according to Kia Motors):

  1. Wipe their greasy hands on your sofa
  2. Put their feet on the sofa
  3. Go upstairs without asking
  4. Brings dog without asking
  5. Go through the medicine cabinet
  6. Come in without knocking
  7. Break wind
  8. Change TV channel without asking
  9. Not take hints to leave
  10. Ask to stay the night
  11. Turn up unannounced
  12. Turn up late
  13. Go for a ‘number two’
  14. Ask to plug the electric car in
  15. Walk in without taking shoes off
  16. Put a drink on a table without a place mat
  17. Make themselves a drink
  18. Leave the toilet seat up
  19. Ask for some food
  20. Ask for the Wi-Fi password

Photo credit: PXHere.com (Creative Commons 0)

My new humor novel, Mackinac Island Nation, is finished and available on Amazon. You can get the Kindle version here or the paperback version here.