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Monday, September 3, 2012

Have You Seen Etiquette?

I haven't seen her lately.

This is the new norm?
(Courtesy of

1. Taking the escalator upwards, we noticed a family in front of us: two adults and three teenagers. They looked excited to be having a meal, animatedly discussing options for their gustatory adventure. 

Reaching the top landing of the escalator, they decide to hold a family meeting right then and there: should we go left or right, asked the mom. Maybe we should try Japanese, quips the younger daughter.

Of course, we bump straight smack into them because the escalator doesn't stop operating just because you decide the mall is your "personal" space. And for something we couldn't help, both parents look at us and deride us as bastos.

"You decide to stop here because of your cluelessness and we're the ones who are rude? I'm sorry, is it Opposite Day?"

It went right over their heads. I was right: Clueless. And I mean in life.


2. A public bus driver decides that since he is on EDSA (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue), he can swerve from the rightmost lane where he just picked up passengers, to the leftmost lane because it is the "fast lane", which is precisely the reason why I'm on it, so I don't have to deal with the homicidal driving techniques of those directly in charge of public transportation and the riding public's safety.

I slam the brakes so hard, the screech could rival the wail of an ambulance siren, and I feel the rear part of the car slightly elevate, almost causing me to slam my face into the windshield despite my seatbelt.

And just for fun, the bus driver decides to go right back to the rightmost lane, as his "birthright", because we all owe him the right to pick up passengers whenever and wherever.

If looks could kill, a dozen private car owners/drivers would have been charged with first degree murder.


3. In my usual coffee shop, there is a long mirror that is accessible only from a seated position. (Or if you're willing to curve your spine to the point of stooping. Or challenging your core after your first Pilates class.)

 A lady dressed in her power suit enters, sits at the table in front of me, decides it's a good time to do her makeup and her hair while everyone is eating. For good measure, she also takes out her appliances (cellphone, tablet) and charges them simultaneously with her extension cord. 

When one of the cafe personnel approaches her (after waiting for 15 minutes to assess her) to tell her that she should at least order something so she can be considered a customer (a nice way of saying hello, you think all this is for free?!?) she has the audacious gumption to reply back, "Hello! I'm a potential customer! So rude! Just because of that, I won't order anything. You can blame yourself!"

We all thought she would leave in a huff. She stayed on charging her appliances, for thirty more minutes, without ordering anything. I guess we can at least say that she's true to her word?


4. While walking along a narrow sidewalk, a bunch of call center agents (you could tell by the identification cards and the out-of-workplace twang in their accents) were on the sidewalk across the street, all four of them practically occupying the entire width of the walkway because they insisted on walking side by side. I assume it's because they only share a single brain and it only functions in that specific lateral position.

They come across a construction worker (carrying his tools with him) on the same sidewalk but in the opposite direction, walking towards them. There was no room to budge towards the street because the jeepneys in Makati have appropriated it as their personal parking space - any comments, Mayor Junjun Binay? - and are parked front bumper to rear bumper so I thought the best solution was bigayan (giving way) among pedestrians.

Maybe the call center agents have a better solution, which was to disregard anyone else who passes by from the opposite direction, and claim the sidewalk as their own. They proceed to run smack into the construction worker, and they all gasp in American expressions, with the loudest of them going, "Oh my gosh! That is so rude! Hello, we were, like, walking here! Can't you see?!? Are you blind? Couldn't you just, like, move? I mean, like, hello! There's only one of you and four of us, duh! Do you have to take up so much space? Gosh!"

Maybe they were trying to finish their English requirement for examples of irony?


5. Fil, a friend who has moved to Singapore, relays this occurrence on social media. Apparently, being a resident of a First World country doesn't automatically mean you have manners.

Well known for their efficient public transport system, Fil takes the buses on a daily basis. On one such trip, his bus came to his stop and so he already positioned himself near the bus door so he could exit quickly. When the door opens, a nun is waiting to get on. Seeing Fil by the entrance/exit of a crowded bus, she sarcastically says: "Would you like to move?"

To which Fil replies, "Would you like to wait for the passengers to alight?"

You can also see this on a daily basis here. Just check out the MRT train stations. Watch how incoming passengers push their way in the moment the train doors open, preventing passengers who want to disembark from doing so.


If you've seen her, tell etiquette she's desperately needed.


  1. Your story of the bus driver made me LOL - literally! But only because I've had the same experience :)

    It's an all too common problem with our roads. In a country where everything can be bought, it's not difficult to imagine that some of them may have had their licenses professionally made in "other" branches of the LTO. But speculation aside, public transportation drivers must be reminded that we do not belittle their occupation. In fact, they should be reminded that they play an important role in country development. After all, they bring workers to their place of employment in the most economical way. But if only they could get it into their heads that they can do better by being respectful of other drivers too - and by that I mean not weaving around like a snake on EDSA or on every other road for that matter. With that, there would be less traffic, people would get around faster, it would decrease tardiness in the workplace and alleviate stress, and would eventually make people more productive. Now tell me, isn't that their way of contributing to the societal reform?

    1. I agree wholeheartedly. And it's also why we should demand more from this sector, they hold lives and opportunities - of others - in their hands. I do not take their profession lightly. They, however, mostly see us communters as their meal ticket. And other cars and trucks as obstacle courses to overcome.

  2. oh dear etiquette, where art thou?

    love this blog entry. more please! i would like to share my own "dear etiquette, please come home" moments.

    I myself is a victim of the jeepney drivers - not as a driver of a private vehicle but as a passenger of the jeepney.

    Even as a passenger, I too can't help but complain (inside my head) about the driver. True they recklessly swerve lanes anyway and anytime they want without taking into account the vehicles beside them or their passengers. This is especially true (based from my observation) among young jeepney drivers. Their dictum is to get passengers as much as they can. They don't care if their passengers get tossed around because of their driving. Heck, they can have elderly passengers and still won't care.

    As a pedestrian, I've noticed that there are less and less of drivers who actually give way to pedestrians even as they cross on the pedestrian lane. Number 1 culprits? Jeepney drivers. I live near a school and across the school is a pedestrian lane. If there are no traffic enforcers around, drivers would just drive by along recklessly without thinking that the area is a school zone. Students are therefore forced to cross "recklessly" as well since motorists are not even giving them the opportunity to cross.

    As for MRT commuters, ayayayay yayay. People would kill just to get inside and won't let alighting passengers go first. It's stupidly hilarious. This does not happen on MRTs anymore, this happens to LRT commuters as well.

    And talk about "personal" space. I have recently been into (almost) the same scenario. I was in a coffee shop to study. Then four women sat beside me while their children play across them (approximately 6-7 feet away). The four women talked to each other as if they were six feet away from one another. I don't mind the noise since I am not even entitled to complain because I am in a public place. But c'mon! Is it necessary to talk at the top of your lungs when you're seated next to the person you're talking to? Talk about class. And they claim to be the rich and classy. The would also shout to call on to their kids as if they were inside their house.

    I wish etiquette was still taught at schools.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience, Delbee. As you also observed, we practically share the same experience, and if you multiply this over millions ofpeople who feel frustrated and despair at our collective situation, you won't wonder anymore if people start being snarky or irritable,

      Etiquette is viewed as an "elitist" pastime, but really, I see it as a way to co-exist with others because we are not alone in this world. When you hold your place in line, when you slow down before a oedestrian lane, when you give the exact change, all these are indications that you realize you have to respect the rights of others as well. It's not so much knowing which fork to use - that is the part etiquette "schools" focus on - but knowing you have your own things, so don't be getting someone else's.

  3. such a nice read!
    came here to your blog via that lucy gomez post, happy to have clicked that link. i like how you write. kudos!

    1. Thank you for the kind words, please feel free to share this and any other posts you like :)