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Newport Manners + Etiquette: Flirtexting + More

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


It's open season, romantically speaking, when it comes to flirtexting--make sure you do it right.

What is the etiquette when Stinky Cycling Gear creates a problem in the workplace? Telling the deceased's son his dad was not his biological father. Can flirtexting lead to romance? What's the skinny on pregniquette? Wow! Didi Lorillard answers questions here and at NewportManners.

Stinky Cycling Gear In the Workplace

Dear Didi,

I have an employee who bikes to work and lives in a motor home. He leaves his cycling gear hanging in the hallway outside one of our offices and the smell is nauseating. I have talked to his boss and my boss about the smell, which neither of them have to smell all day. They tell me to just leave the guy alone. As the HR manager, I feel that the situation should be addressed for the employees that he affects. How do I tell him to hang his clothes in another designated area? Name Withheld

Dear HR Manager,

Have someone obtain a plastic storage box from one of the box stores and designate it as the cyclist's own storage space. Have his name nicely displayed on the box. Tell him there was an anonymous complaint about the odor from his cycling gear permeating the hallway and so from now on he has to store his gear in the hallway box. If he can find another area in the office that doesn't get foot traffic and he would rather store the gear there, then make the compromise.

This is not up for discussion. You, as the Human Resources manager, have to deal with this stinky problem. Unfortunately, it is part of your job. You of course could say that there were a couple of anonymous complaints—should you need a stronger reason. If he asks the nature of the complaint, be candid. Then thank him for cooperating. ~Didi

Telling the Deceased's Son His Dad Wasn't His Dad

Dear Didi,

This is a bit beyond etiquette but you have given me very good guidance in the past. This is regarding the same family members I wrote to you about before. My son passed away a year ago at age 47 (pancreatic cancer). He and my daughter-in-law have two children. The son is 22 years of age. He is not my son's biological child and his parents have never told him. He was raised as my son's child. He is a very wonderful young man. He is somewhat sheltered and young-minded. I know it is not my place to tell the son he has a biological father and perhaps more family somewhere. However, I feel like he should have been told years ago. Shouldn't he have the opportunity to explore another side of his family? Can you give me any guidance on this? Thank you so much for your time and consideration. Sincerely, D.C., Springfield, MA

Dear D.C.,
He is not a child. At twenty-two, he can vote. Although it is not up to you to tell your son's stepson that he has a biological father somewhere, he should be told. Talk to his mother. Yes, he will be angry that he wasn't told before, but he will be even angrier if he finds out in some random way. In anger, he could turn on his mother and whatever family he has, including you. He will become resentful as well. Plus, he will feel betrayed and alone, which is why the sooner he finds out the better.

This really isn't your business except for the fact that you are the only one thinking ethically. Tell his mother that if she doesn't tell him that his dad will always be his dad even though he isn't biologically his father, you will feel morally obligated to do so. Try to get her to put herself in his shoes. Give her, say, two weeks to tell him. No longer. Nevertheless, I'm not telling you to tell him. As his mother, it is her job to set the story straight with her son. If she refuses, can you do some snooping on your own to see if any of her friends or family know who is biological father is? If you find out that his father, say, is in prison for life, you may decide it would be better for him not to know. Even so, you would tell the mother what you know and where to find his real father in order for her to give her son the information about how to find his father. If she decides to contact him first, fine. Support your daughter-in-law in her difficult position and be mindful of the fact that she may not know who her son's father is. Or her son's father may not know he has a son. ~Didi


Dear Didi,

How long do I wait to text back my new boyfriend?  A.V., Warwick

Dear A.V.,

Respond to his text within twenty-four hours—but not immediately. It takes practice to get into the rhythm of flirtexting. Establish standards if you want him to treat you seriously. If he's looking for a last minute date, you're not available. If he's courting you, waiting will feel sexy. Don't return a text after 11:00 pm because you could be giving the message that you're just looking for sex. Never text over 160 characters because you want to save the funny stories to tell him in person. Starting out, don't use abbreviations because he'll think it is so 'middle-school.' He wants to know that you can spell. Be creative. Show off your personality by writing something clever or humorous that will make him smile while he's reading your response. ~Didi


Dear Didi,

Are there any boundaries as to how to treat a pregnant woman? Recently a woman in my yoga class asked me when my baby was due and put her hand on my belly. I'm not pregnant, I just put on a couple of pounds over the holidays. K.S., Providence

Dear K.S.,

First and foremost, keep hands off the belly. Ask for permission or wait to be invitedif you just must touch. Most expectant parents wait at least three months before letting close family and friends in on the good news. And of course, even if you found out you wouldn't congratulate someone until the baby is ten weeks along. It goes without saying you would never stare at the mother's belly or breasts. Whether you're a man or woman, offer your seat or make room on public transportation for a pregnant woman. ~Didi

We like hearing from you at NewportManners.com and if we use your question, we're happy to post it anonymously. Your important questions help other readers make better choices. Didi researches contemporary etiquette and all matters of manners. Or you can ask them on Didi Lorillard's Facebook page or Twitter. Earlier GoLocalProv columns are listed below or can be accessed with a search. 


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