Manners, please…

Hello everyone.  I hope you are all having a great day thus far.  My morning has been good.  I have been having some incredibly odd dreams has of late, though.  One involved the number ten and the other involved toe nail clippings.  And on that note I will let you use your sweet little imagination and won’t go into further detail.  Let’s just say I woke up with a very perplexed expression on my face.  I had a great workout this morning and will be running after work.

We had an incident at the gym this morning.  Nothing major.  Many gyms are now enforcing that cellphones can no longer be used in the gym or the locker rooms.  The only use allowed would be for listening to music.  Many are clamping down on phone calls and texting as it can be distracting.  Not only that, the majority of cell phones now have a camera on them.  It makes sense that this could be used inappropriately.

A woman came into gym this morning just as I was finishing up.  She began doing lunges back and forth through the area set aside for mat work, ball work, free weights, you get the idea.  She was rigged up with earphones and had her smart phone held out before her and was conducting what sounded like a conference call.  She was loud when she spoke.  I don’t know what it is with those phones, but it seems to me people tend to talk  louder when they use them.

I just find it rude.  I wonder what happened to our manners and why we seem to schedule our life around work.  She could have easily sat in the lobby on the sofa and conducted her call.  When I left I mentioned this to Pandora to let her look after the issue.  Perhaps the woman didn’t know, so we will give her the benefit of the doubt.  Even though there are signs up, not everyone reads them I suppose.

Still what got me thinking is many people really don’t take into consideration where they may conducting business or just having a conversation.  It does not occur to them in a public setting that their conversations can be rather invasive at times.  As stated, people using these devices tend to speak louder.  I am no exception.   But then I seldom talk on the thing, particularly in a public setting.  I know that when I do, I tend to raise my voice.  Perhaps it’s because the device is so small.  They have amazing microphones on them yet it can be deceiving.

I guess my point in all this is we should really try to practice a few common courtesies when we are in a public setting.  This isn’t a lesson in etiquette either, far from it.

It is interesting that at times, someone who has been, shall we say ‘raised proper’ can in fact come across very rude despite their practice of manners.  There can be an aloofness, a practiced and insincere quality in the delivery of such niceties.  I suppose I just try to be honest and genuine.

Etiquette sometimes confuses me.  Why we need a million forks and knives and spoons to eat in a formal setting has often been a sticking point for me.  There is an indication that if you don’t follow the rules of etiquette that you are somehow lacking in the social graces.  I use this as an example, as I was not raised or schooled on such things, so when I found myself in these situations in my youth I was usually a wee bit intimidated.

What I used to do when I got nervous was to shoot back a few shots of whiskey to ‘settle my nerves.’  Yikes!  Now if that isn’t a recipe for things going sideways, I don’t know what is.  Many years ago, I was taken to a French restaurant for the first time.  I had never had escargot but was willing to give it try.  My date told me it tasted ‘just like chicken’.  (I am curious why we always use this bird to convince someone to try something?)

In any case the dish came in the shell floating in garlic butter.  I was given a small pair of tongs to pick up the shell and a small two-pronged fork to dig the escargot out.  The first time out the gate I was quite successful and it was very delectable in taste.  The second time out, I didn’t quite have a good hold of the shell and when I went to dig the fork into it I squeezed the tongs and my escargot became airborne. And could that mother move!   It whizzed across the room smacking a woman in the side of the head.  I was mortified.  I went over, picked up my escargot and apologized profusely.

Let’s just say she wasn’t very forgiving. The good thing is they no longer serve this dish in the shell.  At least the times I’ve had it since, it has been served without.  And you know, it could have happened to anyone.  A slippery shell and a pair of tongs…hmmm. What could possibly go wrong?

So I just try to conduct myself in a pleasant and presentable manner now.  I try always to be polite though sometimes my humour does get the better of me.  A few months back, and I may have mentioned this in a prior post, but I entered a restaurant, dressed to the nines…looking about as classy as you can possibly make me look.  It had been raining and the floor to the restaurant was polished cement.  The host came to seat me and I took one step onto the floor and it was like stepping onto ice.  My foot kept going and I flew up in the air and fell flat on my ass.  My dress was now well up over my thighs exposing my thigh high nylons and I was pretty much spread eagle.  My purse had gotten tangled up in one of my heels.   Yes, a wee bit embarrassing.

The host apologetically scraped me off the floor.  I finally managed to get myself into an upright position and I smiled graciously at him and said, ‘You’re good!  It usually takes at least 10 minutes to get me on my back.’  For the briefest of moments he stared a bit dumbfounded then burst into laughter.  Yes, I could have gotten my tail feathers all ruffled and gotten into his face about the wet floor.  I could have really copped an attitude, but you know at the end of the day, you fall, you get back up.  Yup.  Got a pretty good bruise out of the deal and a free drink.  What more could a girl ask for?

At the end of the day I am mindful of everyone around me and this space that we share collectively.  May we all share in good spirit and good will.






An interesting thing transpired the other day.  I recently took over a meet-up group that I have been an active member of  since February of this year.  It is structured as a critique group.  We upload the work we want reviewed and we review the other submissions,  then we get together and offer up our thoughts and ideas as to what is really strong in the piece and where perhaps it may be improved.  This is done in a very supportive and encouraging manner.  I have found this group so beneficial in the completion of my book.  Now that I am doing the edit, the thoughts and suggestions have been invaluable.  It is great to get a sampling of people who write in a variety of genres and all come from different backgrounds.  This creates a fantastic test audience.

The gentleman who started this group is moving to Boston with his wife and baby and since he lives just two blocks away from me I offered to take the group over.  I changed the evening and extended the meetings by an additional hour.  Other than that, the format remains.  A discussion began on the site the other day with members discussing adding additional meetings at other locations.  Currently we have the meetings every second Wednesday in my home.  This was bounced around and by days end I simply stated that I would keep the meetings as they were but encouraged other members to look for additional writing groups (I myself belong to two) and suggested that they may want to develop another group apart from this one.

I just didn’t want the additional responsibility of adding meetings and managing where they would be held, etc.

I left work and went running with my group.  Had an awesome run.  My energy has been a little low as of late, but its coming back.  I got home about 7:45 PM and showered quickly then the phone rang.  One of the women in my writing group wanted to know what my take on the ‘discussion’ that was occurring on the meet-up site.  I had not viewed it since posting my comment about maintaining the current setup.  We chatted for a bit, then I went to check out the comments that had been made.

It became a bit of a battle between two members, one of whom had just joined and had only attended one meeting.  His comments were becoming increasingly condescending and held the note of insult to them.  His last entry that he posted was crude and vulgar and very insulting.

I got very hot under the collar.  I emailed him directly and told him that posting such comments on this site was unacceptable and suggested that an apology was in order.  I got an earful of ‘respect has to be earned’ and ‘if you give in to whiny shit disturbers then you are no better’.  You get the idea.

So I suggested that someone of his advanced years should not feel the need to be reduced to the sandbox mentality of calling names to other people and suggested that if amends were not made then perhaps this was not the group for him.

I just wonder sometimes at the lack of manners a person feels they can display with such an arrogance.  I did point out that respect in my mind is a platform from which to work from.  It is not, in mind, something that needs to be ‘earned’.  It is something that should be afforded to everyone.

I respect many thing.  I respect the earth, the air, the trees, the grass, all life forms, be they animal, human, bird or sea creatures.   I respect a point of view, an opinion, a person’s belief, etc.  And whether I agree with another person or not they are entitled to their opinion.  I might walk away shaking my head because it is so at odds with how I view things, but hey? Healthy debate can be a good thing.  But I will not tolerate name calling and aggressive behaviour.  And in this case, the new member weighed into an area that really did not concern him.  Fine to make your comments, but don’t target someone and this is what occurred.

I had people who were scheduled to come to the next meeting actually cancel after they saw these comments.  So yes, I went in deleted them from the forum and will make if very clear that if no apology is forthcoming, then he is not welcome.  The group does not tolerate or accept this type of behaviour.

So that was my introduction into taking over the writing group.  Let’s hope it settles down a bit.



The Look

I had a great run last night with my group.  I am really starting to work on my speed and I am getting faster!  I can now do one revolution of a 400 metre track in about 2 minutes…give or take 15 seconds added on.  We met up at a school here in Vancouver and did Intervals.  These are great for building up your speed and stamina and you get a very good workout to boot.  This is the format if you would like to do this.  All you need is access to a 400 metre track.


4 x 400 metres (warm up)

Do some stretches then drills.

2 x A’s (A marching step with a skip to it)

2 x B’s (Resembles a canter, much like a horse would do, with a skip to it)

2 x C’s (Kicking your heels back with a skip to it)

2 x Strides (25 moderate steps, 25 medium, 25 fast)

On each of the above you jog back to the start to begin again.

Then the Intervals are as follows:  6 x 400 metres

How this looks as you will actually be doing 12 laps around the track,  is that you run the Interval counter-clockwise around the track.  Depending on your level of training you could be shooting for 1.5 minutes to 2.5 minutes to complete your revolution of the track…then you turn and go at a slow pace in the other direction for recovery.

Repeat this 5 more times.

Once this is done you will do 4 x 400 metres for your warm down at a nice easy pace.

So there will be a total of 20 laps completed.  It is a great workout.

After my run last night, I met with my writing group and got home around 10:00 PM.  I found it really hard to go to sleep last night because I just could not turn off the grey matter.  So I never fell asleep until about 12:30 AM.  Consequently, when the alarm went off at 4:45 AM for me to get up for the gym…I opted for the extra 1/2 hour.  Hey, a girl needs her sleep.

On the drive in this morning through a very wet and grey day, my daughter and I were discussing some of the really bad areas that just seem accident prone.  The majority of accidents are caused by people who are impatient and don’t pay attention to what is going on around them.

Case in point, we were looking to merge onto Boundary Road.  The traffic was coming in on their green light.  The traffic lightened and a car that was approaching, I was not sure if was turning as he did not have his signal on, yet he was slowing down and he did begin to turn left so I knew I could proceed and turn right.  Before I could do this, however, the guy behind leans on his horn…then shoots out beside me and goes past and in front of me.

For the next few blocks he is in front of us and every time he changed lanes he did not signal.  To my daughter I said, “Those are the people that cause accidents.”  She agreed then smiled and said, “When he went by us he gave me a dirty look and I gave him a really dirty look right back.”

I smiled at this.  “You can give one hell of a dirty look.” I said, and this was stated with much pride on my part.

One thing I developed being a mother, was the ability to bring the world to a stand still with THE LOOK.  There is something about a woman when she is pissed off…no words required.  She will give you THE LOOK.  And each and everyone of you reading this knows what THE LOOK is.  Think back to your own mother when perhaps you did not heed her warnings…then you glanced up and caught her eye…and then you shrank back in utter fear for your life!

Okay, okay…yes, I am being a bit dramatic.

To relay my point I am reminded several years ago as I was shopping on East Hastings Street in some of the little shops there what happened during a fender bender.  A woman driving a van did not stop quite fast enough and rear-ended the car in front of her.  It was not a serious accident by any means.  The guy in the car got out and walked over to the van and started screaming at the woman.  He was calling her all sorts of extraordinarily bad names that I will not repeat.  He was a big, burly guy.  The woman in the van had been visibly upset to begin with and now she was reduced to tears.

Collectively everyone who witnessed this began to move forward to intervene but before we could get there this little Italian woman who runs one of the shops and stands about 4′ feet 9″ inches in height burst through at a frenetic pace.

She marched up to the guy reached up and grabbed his ear.  “You!  Come with me!”

She dragged him curbside and had he tried to get away I am sure she would have torn his ear right off.  The look on that woman’s face made all of us stop breathing.  She had daggers coming out her eyes with fire attached to the blades.

She pulled his face down to her and in a voice that would make the Devil himself squirm she hissed at him with a strong Italian accent and  rather loudly I might add, “You never talk to a woman like that!  So your stupid car got a stupid dent!  You call her names that are blasphemous!  You should burn in Hell for saying such things!  And look…” at this point she drags his ear around to look back at the woman still seated in the van crying and she gives the ear and his head a good shake…”And look what you have done!  You make her cry!  You bastard!  Now…you go over there right now and you apologize!” Then she grabbed the other ear and pulled his head down so that she could look him square in the eye and said with deadly resolve…”And mean it!”

Then she let go.  He walked over to van looking quite contrite and quietly made his apology to the woman and we who had witnessed this cheered and clapped our hands as this small demure woman made her way back into her store.

We all learned a thing or two about fender bender etiquette that day and we witnessed the very definition of THE LOOK in all its glory.

Enjoy your day everyone and remember, Mother’s Day is fast approaching.