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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013 6 years ago

The early bird gets left alone


So get this. Apparently, there’s this unspoken list of social rules governing how we’re all supposed to act in public. They’re called “manners.”

No, really. I was as shocked as you are.

But I do think it’s important to formalize decorum and get it down on paper, so that we’re all on the same page. Before last week, for instance, I never wore a top hat and tuxedo to dinner once. Imagine my humiliation when I found out that not only should I be getting dressed up, but — get this — I shouldn’t be talking on the phone in movie theaters or passing gas in crowded elevators.

I was a mess.

But what got me researching etiquette in the first place is when my friend Cody, who’s always sure to formally excuse himself and bow before leaving a room, informed me that if students at his college arrived to class before their professors, they’d have to wait a certain grace period before assuming class was canceled, and that period was based on the professor’s degree.

This was a game-changer.

For years, like an uncultured brute, I’ve been arriving places on time. But apparently, if you have a bachelor’s degree, you’re allowed 15 minutes leeway. Twenty minutes for a master’s. And if you have a doctorate, forget about it, just arrive the next day (we all know that sampling wines, playing polo and picking out the right sweater to drape over your shoulders after games of polo takes time, and we respect that).

But just think how much extra time I could have spent in my life eating gummy bears and playing video games if I had known all this. We’re talking lots of 15 minute chunks, and an absolutely obscene amount of gummy bears. But I suppose there’s no use crying over wasted R&R.

The real winners here, if you ask me, are currently out-of-work college graduates — namely the ones with post-graduate degrees.

It’s true: Maybe these poor saps do have mountains of debt with no escape in sight. And sure, they’re unemployed without work experience smack in the middle of The Great Recession. But, while all us suckers with measly B.A.s or less are sitting at bars like chumps, waiting for our friends to arrive, they’ll be at home, eating gummy bears and playing video games and waiting for their grace period to start.

Cynics might say these bright-eyed academics were lied to, and that all they really bought with their student loans are more time under their parents’ roofs. But that’s not true. They also bought a much more relaxing way to get to their appointments — you know, at places like employment centers and debt-counseling seminars.

NOTE: This goes without saying, but let me know you read this whole column and I’ll send you a thank you card. But know: I will be expecting a thank you card in response to my thank you card. Whoever stops this cycle first is impolite and owes the other an apology card.


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