Just Behave

Just Behave: Sounding Off

Advice from our etiquette expert

BY February 6, 2017


My husband and I recently attended a concert at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. After the concert started, a couple arrived and was seated within earshot of us. The woman directly behind her was so offended that throughout the remainder of the concert she made a point to make noise right behind their backs (ruffled candy wrappers, clapped loudly, etc.). I’m certain she was trying to irritate the late arrivers, and she succeeded in annoying us as well. What should I have done? — Kelly, Cape Coral


Dear Kelly,

It sounds as if you had a drama playing in competition with the entertainment on stage. You might have avoided the acting out if the ushers had kept the couple from being seated until intermission. But two wrongs don’t make a right. You might have kindly asked the fussing woman to tone it down, but it appears as if she wouldn’t take direction well. Grant her one retaliatory message noise to signal her displeasure, but why keep on? It upstages the original villains by being a yet more rude one. Just hope this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and pass on the rules of being a good concert attendee: Arrive on time, never sing along with the soloist unless invited to do so, and wait to clap until the end of the piece. And wish you can turn off noisy guests the way you can turn off a cellphone.


A friend got married last year and I’m still waiting for a thank-you note. Should I ask her if the gift got lost in the mail? I’m embarrassed to ask. I know she’s been really busy—she’s working full time, helping with her husband’s business, volunteering at her child’s school and writing a book. I know it’s the 21st century and they say it’s OK to wait a year to receive a thank-you note, but I’m a little upset and partially concerned. What should I do? — Kimberly, Marco Island


Dear Kimberly,

It’s fine to ask her if she received the gift. At least you’ll have one issue solved. Maybe it will even prompt her to write a note. Let’s hope so. Your generosity should be acknowledged. It takes only a few minutes to write a note.

People, please—I beg you. Take a moment and write a quick but thoughtful thank-you note. FYI: In the time it took to read this column, you could have written a note. 


I work with someone who has terrible body odor. What should I do? It’s really horrible, especially in the summer when it’s so hot outside. Should I leave deodorant on his chair? — Sandy, North Fort Myers


Dear Sandy,

I’m sure you don’t want to hurt his feelings, but find it awful to work in close quarters with him. Have you discussed this with the manager of the department? If it’s something others have noticed, too, perhaps the manager can step forward and have a discussion. Maybe the co-worker doesn’t realize he has a problem, and this conversation could be helping him in other areas of his life as well. I certainly wouldn’t leave deodorant on his chair. He’d wonder who left it and might not understand why. Or if he did, then he’d wonder who did it and that could lead to other issues at work. Bad feelings might be worse than bad body odor. 


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