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The Plight of a Rules Girl in an Unruly Society

The Plight of a Rules Girl in an Unruly Society
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As a baby boomer, sometimes I long for those days when things were a bit more formal and there seemed to be a level of respect we gave each other across the board. Strides in technology have certainly made our lives easier, but at what cost? I’m afraid to say that I think it’s taken its toll on manners and etiquette.

Is it just me or are you also noticing this shift too?


Remember your job search back in the day (before the internet and emails) when you sent a typewritten thank you note after your interview? I remember in the 1980s how I thought writing a personal, handwritten thank you (instead of typing one) seemed so unprofessional. Now, I hear stories of candidates sending thank you notes via text!

Am I that old school to think that is a bit odd?

On the subject of thank you notes, it was a given that my siblings and I would always write them soon after we received gifts. These days, after sending gifts and not receiving the requisite thank you, I find myself wondering if the gift arrived or if it is sitting in a landfill with some of my resumes from the 1980s. Is it too much to ask that a gift be acknowledged?

Where is Miss Manners when I need her most?


I was recently reminded of Miss Manners and ‘etiquette’ on a train ride home on the Long Island Railroad (known as LIRR to locals). No sooner had I settled into my seat when I caught a whiff of a familiar scent. The woman directly across from me was polishing her nails! I wondered if the LIRR was now doubling as a nail salon.

I abruptly changed my seat.

I’m beginning to think Miss Manners might have to add some new chapters to her book.

When did we turn into a society where etiquette, manners and social graces seem to have gone by the wayside? It seems as if the bad behavior and lack of accountability are so commonplace now. And what’s worse is that there are those who enable the lack of accountability.


Does anyone else receive ‘reminder’ phone calls from their doctors’ and dentists’ office staff when they have an upcoming appointment? My dentist’s office staff used to call AND text me until I finally told them that I mark down my appointments, so it’s really not necessary for them to send me that many reminders, along with a request that I call them back to confirm my appointments!

As adults, isn’t it our responsibility to keep track of these appointments and then show up for them? I find it ironic that with more technology, we’ve become less reliable, not to mention more self-absorbed.


Speaking of self­-absorption, I’ve lived in NYC for 18 years now. Do you know what I’ve had twice since I’ve moved here? Eye contact on the street! That’s right. Everyone is either staring straight ahead or looking down at their phones. I must live in a city filled with very important people who receive very important messages all day long.

When we were younger, how did we ever manage to get by without being accessible by cell phone 24/7? I kid of course. Somehow, we all survived.

Speaking of the phone..


A recruiter (a woman in her 20s) called me recently about a freelance position. During our subsequent meeting, the recruiter told me that she didn’t have time to eat lunch that day. While I appreciated her honesty, I was waiting for her to start chewing on her arm during our interview. I chalked it up to TMI.

A few weeks later, I missed a call from her and called right back. “Am I catching you at a good time?” I asked, to which she replied “I’m multi-tasking”. I felt like I was interrupting her (perhaps she was reading a food delivery menu) and that her attention was obviously elsewhere. It concerned me that I was relying on this person for my next freelance assignment. I admit, I was a bit taken aback by her casual stance.

I don’t recall ever reading about this type of recruiter behavior in “What Color is Your Parachute” during my early job hunting years – do you?


I have a feeling many of you share my sentiments and also long for those simpler times, where manners were something that were instilled in us at a young age and formality seemed more the rule rather than the exception. But the times have certainly changed. How do you cope with how different the rules are now in your personal and professional lives?

What more can I say? Call me a rules girl. But please, don’t call me late for dinner.






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