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Ask the Expert

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Louise Elerding: How to stay civil in the summertime

Posted: July 22, 2010 8:08 p.m.
Updated: July 23, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 

Since manners don’t take a summer vacation, it’s helpful to think about how we can manage through these warm months.

Proper etiquette can help you maintain a cool attitude and treat the people you come in contact with in a favorable way.

Traveling tips
A positive attitude can go a long way in determining how successful a trip will be. By treating the people we come in contact with kindly, you’ll attract more of the same good energy.

Packing takes planning and preparation, so traveling as light as possible can help you be less burdened.

Not only will you move more quickly when not encumbered by a lot of gear, you’re likely be on time more easily as well.

Remember to be responsible for your own gear and luggage — don’t expect others to drop what they are doing to help.

Less is always better when filling the suitcase. Use the three-time rule — each garment you pack needs to be worn three times or it’s not going in the suitcase.

Tipping time is always at your discretion. Customarily, however, allow $2 per bag for baggage handling. At times, you will find that you need to tip the doorman and the bell man both.

A valet dry-cleaning tip can be $5 and up, depending on how much service was rendered. If you depend on the concierge to do a lot for you — acquire theater tickets, arrange tours and transportation, find and make dining reservations — then likely you will tip him upwards of $20 upon checking out of the hotel.

Another consideration is to leave your housekeeping person a tip — usually calculated at $2-$5 per night. The best place to leave the tip is on your pillow or near the bathroom sink. Placing the money in one of the hotel envelopes addressed to housekeeping, or using the person’s name if you’ve been given that information, will be sure to get attention.

Wearing your robe when receiving room service is not only acceptable, it’s often expected. A 20-percent tip is a respectful room service gratuity.

When asking for help with hailing a cab or having your car parked, pay the tip at the time — do not wait until you are ready to check out of the hotel, as the person who assisted you may not be on duty that day.

Some cities will tell you cab tips are not necessary, but check with your hotel for what is the accepted gesture. A good minimum guideline would be 10 percent.

Never throw anything out of the window while riding in or driving a car. The law allows only water to be tossed out.

Otherwise you will be cited, and it’s an expensive ticket.

At home

Be the neighborhood watch dog. Offering to watch someone’s house while the homeowner is out of town is a very kind gesture. Just don’t sublet your duties to another friend if there’s a scheduling conflict, and don’t let anyone else use that family’s key.

If pets are involved, you will be responsible for any noises and messes that occur. Making the time to give them due attention will be greatly appreciated by both the pets and their owners.

Squelch the attention-getters. You can always pick up newspapers and flyer-advertisements for people who are not home — even if you have not been asked to do so. When you notice these piling up, which could attract attention for crime, put them aside in an out-of-view place that neighbors can easily see and have access to when they return.

Outdoor living
Warm summer weather encourages neighbors to spend more time outdoors, sitting on a shady porch, barbecuing outside in the cool evenings, taking more walks or playing games on the lawn.

It’s nice to have a pleasant relationship with the people who live around you so remember to consider noise control, junk control, parking control — not parking a car in front of a neighbor’s mailbox or blocking the sidewalk entrance to the house — as ways to keep life amicable. Refrain from picking other peoples flowers or running over lawns, lighting fixtures and gardens with bikes, skateboards, and any other wheeled object.

If an accident does occur, immediately knock at the door of the homeowner with an apology and an offer to help remedy the damage.

If there isn’t an answer at the door, return later and come prepared with a pencil and paper to leave a note if there is still no one at home.

If you are in a public picnicking spot, leave the place greener than when you arrived. Put all trash you have created in the designated bins and pack along at least one good-sized trash bag in your gear for collecting throughout the day.

If you can, take care of more than what is your own mess. If you see some other trash forgotten, spilled, or piled around, dispose of that, too, and leave the area nice for the next people who come along.

Louise Elerding, a manners, etiquette and personal appearance coach, is the author of “You’ve Got Manners!” an illustrated series of children’s books. For information on table manners classes held at Salt Creek Grille in Valencia or to submit questions for the “Ask Louise’ column, call 1-800-326-8953 or e-mail MannersA2Z@aol.com. Website: www.youvegotmanners.com.

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