Saturday, May 14, 2011

Is It Still a Faux Pas if You Really Don't Know Better?

A few evenings ago Steve and I were enjoying our daughter's lovely orchestra concert. Before the performance, it was announced that all audience members should silence their phones and pagers. Steve and I both left our phones at home, so we were good. (We also left the camera at home, so no chance of committing the flash photography faux pas either...but we committed the parental faux pas of not taking any photos of our child's last 5th grade strings performance. You can't win.)

We had been sitting near the aisle, but a family of 4 came in late, so we scooted in, with me sighing about being so inconvenienced! (How self-centered am I?) About midway through the concert, just before a piece was to be performed, one of the family member's phones went off, loudly. Faux pas number 1. This person then went ahead and answered their phone. Faux pas number 2. This person then had a conversation. Faux pas number 3. I didn't move, like a deer in the headlights, I was stunned, and then torn. Since I was sitting rather close to this person, I could tell, from a few factors, that this person was not being a jerk, not being rude on purpose, not trying to let the world know that their time and conversation was more important than anyone else's time and efforts. This person was sweetly ignorant of our 21st century rules of etiquette. They did not take a phone call during our children's performance out of an elitist, entitled arrogance that surpasses an awareness of others. This person just did not know better.

Now, most people in our world today do know better. If you know better, please do not carry on a loud and personal conversation next to me on a city bus. Don't drive your car while talking, nearly swerving into my car because you cannot multitask. Don't glance at your phone every ten minutes while we are having dinner (glancing once might be ok, especially if you have small children and you're worried the babysitter is calling...). Do realize that sometimes, just sometimes, a person commits a faux pas out of ignorance, not out of rudeness and there is really no need for your comments and remarks, which are like the loud sshhhhhes of children in a classroom - louder than the chatty offenders. I am guilty of both offenses - the cell phone faux pas and the remarks, but that night, I learned my lesson. Don't assume.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. What a pain, the whole cell thing drives me nuts. Do people just not understand common courtesy?

  3. I don't understand how people cannot know that. I think it comes to whether or not they were taught manners...a child telling someone they are fat doesn't mean to be rude, but it still is and we correct them. Something should still be said, maybe nicely, but still said.