Friday, May 29, 2015

An Etiquette Ferry Tale

A few trips between here and Oakland will perhaps open your eyes to the fact that there is room for original interpretation as to what constitutes manners.

The old adage about one half of the world not knowing how the other half gets away with it, does not apply to commuters. Settle down in almost any part, of any ferry boat going in any direction and before the gentleman from Denmark or thereabouts says: "All ashore," you can get first hand ideas on many points of view on many subjects.  

Take etiquette, for instance. From the fact that its rules have been codified, as it were, one might think that etiquette was in the nature of an exact science. A few trips between here and Oakland will perhaps open your eyes to the fact that there is room for original interpretation as to what constitutes manners. 

It was on one of the morning boats from Sausallto. She sat on the after deck and told a girl friend the story of her life from a date in the past, when, it appeared from the conversation, their paths had separated. "No, I ain't seen May sines I was married. She'n me had an awful fallin' out. You see 'twas this way: May sent me a wedding present. I'd acknowledged all my engagement presents, but didn't think it would be etiquette to acknowledge weddin' presents till I was married. I had all my acknowledgments written and was goin to mail them the minute I was married. The day before the weddin May rings me up. 

"Oh, you ain't dead?' she says, sarcastic, when I answers the 'phone. '"Why. the idear. May! What's the matter?' says I." 'Nothln'!' she says with a sneer. 'But if my present aint worth acknowledging you'd best send it back.' '''You mis'rable contemptuous cat." I says. 'If I had you here,' I says, I'd scratch your eyes out. Don't you dare to tell me nothln' about etiquette!' 

"I slams down the 'phone. I returned her present, but she come to the weddin' all right an' enjoyed herself makin' sneerin' remarks about the furniture. No, May an' I ain't been friends since."— From the San Francisco Call, July 1912

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Moderator for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia