We are in this together…

A slight departure from the regular tone of this site, though perhaps not.

Today is the first day of the rest of our lives.  That is true everyday, but here in the States, today has a little more gravitas than usual.  Because yesterday, one of the most divisive election cycles finally came to an end with the inauguration of Donald J Trump as President of the United States.

Say what you want about the outgoing commander-in-chief, but he and his family were shining examples of class and elegance.

And say what you want about President Trump, but civility and decorum are two words even his most aligned allies will never say about him.  But I digress…

I am an American.

Above most other things really. I am a woman, true to myself.  I am a wife and a mother, and a friend. And by a lucky accident of birth, I am an American, instead of Polish, or Kenyan, or Russian. I feel a tremendous amount of pride when I hear the Star-Spangled Banner. The story of our founding father speaks to me and though I know we are not a perfect union, we strive….

I think that America is a grand and beautiful experiment that is unique, and wonderful and greater than the sum of its parts.  Yes, we have failed.  So many times on so many fronts.  We will fail again, and again.  But we will also try again, and slowly but surely we as a united people form a better nation.  So #notmypresident, while I understand the spirit, for me is not true.  Because I am American, he is my president.  We are in this together.

We are the same you and I, fellow Americans. It doesn’t matter if your brown and I’m white. It doesn’t matter that you’re a man and I’m a woman. It doesn’t matter that you arrived here last week and my family arrived in 1637. It doesn’t matter that you voted for Trump and I voted for Hilary. It doesn’t matter. We are in this together.

The funny thing?  The stereotypical white guy Trump voter in the “Make America Great Again” baseball hat and the newly arrived Muslim Syrian refugee have more in common than not. We all want this country to thrive and prosper. We want to be safe. We all want basic needs, for ourselves and hopefully to have enough grace to hope the same for our neighbors.  We want to leave a better world for our children (we want to leave a world for our children).  We want our taxes to mean something, and not fall into a black hole of fiscal irresponsibility.  We want a job we can take pride in.

When you consider that the majority of our life goals are the same, the name calling and vitriol seems a bit silly, on the face of it. When we label our neighbors as confused, or uneducated, or worse, it does us all a disservice. As Americans, it is time to come together. What is a libetard?  Your neighbor who supports the ACA because cancer runs in their family and she is scared to death of lifetime insurance caps?  Perhaps that perspective is what is needed, the hearing of our individual stories, so that you, gentle reader, can overcome your distaste of said neighbor’s “I’m With Her” bumpersticker.

I can’t believe that President Trump and his rhetoric represents America. I know that it doesn’t represent me. Do we really hate each other as much as Trump, and the media, say we do?.  Our government represents us, the people.  Make your voice heard.  Ditch the labels.  Think independently. Heck, color outside your party lines.  Democratic leaning citizens can want fiscal conservatism.  Republican leaners can support healthcare for all. We are complex beings living in a complex world.  Rarely does one perspective represent a person completely.

Show what is important to you.  And, I am fine with whatever is important to you being something that I am against.  Please show me the same courtesy. It is not a lost cause. We need to see an outpouring of activism, of being involved in the choices that are happening in Washington, at the state level, at the local level.  The world is big enough for all of us to passionate and involved, without stooping to racism and name calling.

Over half of registered voters in the US didn’t vote in this very contentious and very important election. Say what??!? For God’s sake, now is the time! Whatever you are passionate about, get involved.  Volunteer time. Write a check.  Make a sign. Talk to someone at your local level in government. Attend a school board meeting.  Support the Alderman’s race or the city council.  Find out what your local arts commission needs and spread the word.

We are in this together. We always have been, and by the luck of birth or by the sweat of your brow you are now in this country and part of this vast and wonderful experiment.  So, let’s act like we are in this together.  Everyone deserves respect and a voice.

We are in this together.  United we stand.  Let’s unite.

Is ‘guys’ an offensive form of address?

I live in Seattle, and the reputation that we are cooler, more casual, and less ‘obnoxious’ (unless we are talking football) than other areas of the country is sometimes well deserved.  However, as this little blurb that appeared today in the Seattle Times, the polar opposite is also true.

In the Rant and Rave column, this gentleman well, rants, over the behavior of his server in (apparently) more than one unnamed restaurant:

“To the wait staff in supposedly sophisticated restaurants who habitually address my wife and I as “guys” as we sit down to dine. I assume they’re not blind and this insulting address is part of Seattle’s legendary and puerile informality. How gauche! Next time this happens we’ll call out the fool and leave.”

First off, I want to thank this gentleman for today’s self improvement; I had to look up the word ‘puerile‘ to determine that this person considers informality ‘childish, silly and trivial.”  How Downton Abbey of him! But to the point, is using the word ‘guys’ really insulting?

Officially no.  According to Merriam-Webster, the word ‘guy’ used as described above is perfectly correct.  The actual definition: “used in plural to refer to the members of a group regardless of sex” fits this scenario. That being said, as a server, I have to admit I would probably not use the word, unless I was addressing a particular demographic, say 20-something males at a sports bar, casual dinner, or otherwise obviously just having a good time.  If it was the same 20-something men at a business or formal function, I would say gentlemen, and if it was a mixed group…this is where the northern climes of the United States have a distinct disadvantage compared to our southern cousins, as in: What is the northern equivalent of y’all? Or folks?  To say either of these words north of the Mason-Dixon line is to invite a query about your ancestry, and if you don’t have answer that includes southern heritage, some odd looks.

For the particular situation above, that so incensed this “ranter”, I would probably just use the collective you, as in, “What brings you in tonight?”  Said to the table, with eye contact to both individuals, shouldn’t cause any outrage.

All that being said, is “guys” really insulting?  Emphatically no.  It may be a bit lazy, socially speaking, and there may be situations where an alternative is definitively the better way to go, but guys (see what I did there), in today’s social and etiquette environment, guys is a more than acceptable stand-in for addressing a mixed group.

What are your thoughts on this?  Please start a conversation in the comments!

 

It Must be Sunday…

…which is football day in The PRIMcess’s house.

And this week’s big story is the bullying of Jonathan Martin by Richie Incognito down in Miami.    Of course, this is an incident between two grown men that weigh 300 pounds, so labeling it with something we now think of as the provenance of middle school kids might be a mistake.  Martin was harassed.  The question, I suppose, in the macho NFL, was if Incognito went over the line.

The NY Times, as always, has an interesting take on the situation.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/10/sports/football/civility-need-not-be-excluded-from-the-culture-of-the-nfl.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&smid=tw-nytimes&_r=0

My thoughts?  Above the constant harassment that Martin went through, what does it say about the people in Miami when a white guy comes into a locker room that, by my guess, is at 60-70% African American and throws around the n-word like its cool?   Above manners, above etiquette, above civility, that word is loaded with history, all of it bad.  Especially bad in the mouth of a white man in the south.

What do you think?  Is this part of sports?  I would love to see your comments.

Speaking of “Those People”

In my Monday Manners quote this week, I had mentioned “those people.”  You know, those people who glow.  That feel like your best friend five minutes after you’ve met.  In the words of Helen Keller, those people whom you can feel their eyes twinkle via a handshake.

Today we are not talking about “those people.”  We are talking about the other type of “those people.”  Those people who judge.  Those people who think they know all about you, based on your color, or economic status, or the clothes you wear.  Those people who speak without their tongues attached to their brains.

I was scanning the ‘net today, and saw this blog post from the people over at Scary Mommy.   In it, the author talks about the surprising judgement coming from a colleague at the school where she works.  Check out the post here:

http://www.scarymommy.com/those-people/

And tell me what you think in the comments below.

Manners in the News: Should Corporations Have Etiquette?

Hmmmmm…..I think most people these days think no.  This is the time of no brand loyalty, everyone in it, companies and consumers alike, for the bottom line only.

What if a customer had been your client for over 60 years?  What if this client had been with you as the built and grew, became a force in life, and is now on the decline of their years?  What if this customer had been with you through mergers and name changes?  Do you owe this customer anything?

Read this article about a local woman who has been with the same bank since 1951:

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2021871054_westneat22xml.html

Let me know what you think.  Does this big ol’ bank owe this client anything?  Does this client have any right to expect different behavior?  Let me know what you think in comments.

 

Manners in the News: Those Chinese Tourists are at it Again

Oy!  These are not the days to be Chinese and visiting the world outside your borders.

The Chinese have officially bumped the U.S. into second on the “Most Obnoxious Tourist” list (never fear, I am sure one of my countrymen are doing something RIGHT NOW to get back the top spot–we hate coming in second, you know).

I thought this little article about the growing economic power of touring Chinese was interesting on many levels.  First off,  the sight of real rice will often move me to tears as well.  The crap that many Americans call rice is inedible, even to me.  But seriously, the cultural differences always amaze me, and I devour these little tidbits with nerdy abandon.  What is it about putting people from Beijing and Shanghai on the same bus?  Is it the same as putting Alabama/LSU fans on the same transport?  Inquiring minds want to know!

I thought it was interesting that education was sited as the reason these tourists are having these issues.  After living their lives closed off from the rest of the world, they just don’t know how to act.  What we might see as adventu rous, they just see as weird.  What we see as etiquette, such as standing in line, they are just clueless.  But they bring enough money ($8.8 Billion in the U.S. alone, per the article) that an industry is popping up to support them, and as it says, tour owners, hoteliers, and others will always “bow to” their cash.

 

http://seattletimes.com/html/travel/2021843553_chinarudetouristsescapesxml.html

Manners in the News: Cyber Bullying

Oh my God.

Recent news has reports that a 12 year old girl killed herself in Florida over bullying, including messages on her social media sites from classmates asking “Why are you still alive?” and “Go kill yourself.”

What, on this earth, could this girl have done that would warrant such disdain from classmates, which I assume are other 12-ish year olds?  She wasn’t wearing the right jeans?  Spoke to the most popular girl’s boyfriend? More than a dozen girls participated in this demonstration of cruelty that has ended a life.  Not sure if this is really manners (as in what the heck were these parents teaching these kids to make them think saying these kind of things was okay, or dare I imagine…funny?) or an example of group think and mob mentality.

What I will say is this; use this as a teaching moment, moms.  Encourage your kids to think for themselves.  Encourage them to be brave.  Encourage them to stand up for the weak.  Encourage them to report.  Educate them on what is acceptable behavior now,  and do it again tomorrow and again next week.  Make it an ongoing discussion.  It is never okay to tell someone to die.  I don’t care if this is your sworn enemy, the guy who stole your girlfriend, the kid from the opposing rival high school that crushed you in football, the girl who acts like she is better than everyone else.  NEVER. OKAY.  If a dozen kids were taunting this poor girl, you can bet there were others, on the sidelines, that weren’t participating, but knew something awful was happening.

I actually do have sympathy for these dozen girls.  They lives have been changed forever.  There will always be a “before” and “after” marking this day.   Let’s work hard, to make sure the next victim isn’t a kid from YOUR son’s school, that the next bully isn’t YOUR daughter, that YOU don’t get the visit from the local police that no one deserves to get.

To read the article:

http://www.seattlepi.com/news/crime/article/Bullied-12-year-old-Fla-girl-commits-suicide-4809364.php