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Newport Manners & Etiquette: Bullies, Rumormongers + Pizza Manners

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Etiquette questions about bullies, a false but potentially damaging rumor, and eating pizza with your girlfriend's parents from a 10th grade honors class at Chariho Regional High School. Didi Lorillard's answers at Newport Manners.com this week.

Bullied in the workplace

I have a part-time job in a restaurant on weekends as a bus boy. One of the other guys in the kitchen whacked me twice with a wet towel. I need the job to help pay for college and my mom is a single working mother, so I don't want to cause trouble. I don't want to get anyone fired, but I don't know how to work this out. Name withheld, Chariho Regional High School, Wood River Jct.

Guys have been snapping towels at one another forever. It is supposed to be playful. Nonetheless, it is a form of harassment, especially when the other person doesn't engage in the "game" by snapping a wet towel back at the predator. Talk to your supervisor. Ask him for advice. Say you don't want to be a complainer, but the situation is intolerable. Chances are he's bullied others and, unless he's the owner's son, the supervisor has gotten wind of his bad behavior.

As to how to work it out, the next time that wet towel comes at you clasp your hands behind you and step away. That's the signal that you're not fighting back. You're taking a non-confrontational stand. While calmly but sternly saying, "I don't appreciate being snapped at with a wet dishtowel. Please, don't do it again." Keep your hands behind your back and wait for his reply. He'll probably walk away. ~Didi

Squelching a rumor

At a party on Saturday, a 12th grader was making fun of my best friend, trying to ruin her reputation by telling people she's pregnant. I stood up for her and said she wasn't. I said as her best friend I would know if she was. He laughed and said she was. I went outside and texted her. She texted back that she wasn't. I went back and told him. He laughed again. Then I asked my date to get me out of there. What should I have done? Name withheld, Chariho Regional High School, Wood River Jct.

Actually, you did everything possible perfectly. You confronted the upperclassman with his allegation and then confirmed that you were right. You took the drama out of the rumor and left the party. The rumormonger will no doubt be looking for verification of her unborn baby bump. When he doesn't see her looking pregnant, he should apologize. ~Didi

Meeting her parents

I've been invited to my girlfriend's house for pizza to meet her parents. Pizza is so messy. Do I use a knife and fork and cut it into bite size pieces? Or do I fold it over and eat with my hands. I want to make a good impression. Name withheld, Chariho Regional High School, Wood River Jct.

When you arrive at your girlfriend's home introduce yourself so they clearly get your name. Especially if your name, for instance, is Rob and some people think it is Bob, O'Connell when it is O'Donnell. Look them in the eye as you shake their hand, with your right hand vertical and thumb pointing upward. Hold for one second, two seconds, three seconds as you say, "My name is Rob O'Donnell." Let go. Then say, "Thank you for inviting me." When eye contact seems being too familiar, focus on the tip of his nose or chin. He won't know the difference and you'll feel more comfortable.

If the table is set with a fork and knife, cut away. Otherwise grab a couple of napkins and tuck one in under your chin, fold the slice, and bring it to your mouth. Don't put your head in your plate, elevate the pizza to your chin and dig in. A slice of pizza isn't heavy. You only need one hand to maneuver the slice up and down.

Make conversation with the person to your right and then the person to your left between bites when it isn't a group conversation. But don't talk with your mouth full. Ask about sports. Always an icebreaker, even when they don't like sports. Don't forget, out of respect for the women in the family, put the toilet seat back down.

Ask if you can pitch in, "What can I do to help?" Be sure to thank everyone, and you'll be invited again. Exiting: open the door, but leave facing the family to say your goodbye. Never turn your back to anybody, whether you're sitting next to them or leaving the room. ~Didi

Bullies in the mall

What do I do when I'm at the mall and harassed by upperclassmen, who pick a fight or try to argue some stupid point? Name withheld, Chariho Regional High School, Wood River Jct.

Whether in the mall or the halls at school, agree to disagree. Say, "Let's agree that we can see things differently. Let's agree it is OK to disagree." Again, with your hands clasped behind your back, make "Eye contact" on his chinny-chin-chin as he walks away. ~Didi


Do you have a question for Didi? Visit her at NewportManners.com. We can withhold your name and location. Didi researches etiquette and all matters of manners for her book,"Newport Etiquette." Previous weekly GoLocalProv.com columns may be found by typing in Didi Lorillard in the above righthand search. Or scroll down for a list of topics below. 


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