Minding your manners while you travel
Yesterday I had the “pleasure” of being on the receiving end of another “what not to do” example of social skills. I was on a flight back from LA to Seattle, coming home from my speaking engagement in Grand Cayman. This was the last leg of what turned out to be 20 hours of travel, so I was trying to get a bit of a nap.
Only, the two ladies sitting in the row behind me wouldn’t allow it. Throughout the entire 2 1/2 hour flight, they kept up a steady chatter about every topic under the sun. Problem wasn’t just what they were discussing, but the decibel level at which this dialog was being conducted.
When you consider that, in the average commercial airliner, you have probabaly 12-20 people within 8 feet of you, you do not need much volume to be “overheard.” The two ladies in question were separated by a mere 6 inches, I’m betting, yet they were using at least (what I call with our young students) a “six foot” voice. And, the more alcohol that they consumed, the bigger the voices got. And, the less “appropriate” the topics.
I learned all sorts of things from these chatty passengers. For example, apparently two of the students my kids go to school with are on a “free ride” at their school. Why? Well, it appears their dad was caught participating in an elaborate Ponzi scheme, is now in jail, mom has to fend for the family and the only “hope” these poor kids would have for any stability in their lives would be to attend this school. I heard how the mom threw herself on the mercy of someone in the school (no name mentioned, but by the title I know EXACTLY who was consulted) and I now even know which family has been so afflicted.
I don’t want to go into further details, but I had to make the point: all sorts of “personal” info was spilled by these two, and loudly enough that probably 15 people heard their stories. It wasn’t even “eavesdropping” because, short of putting on headphones and plugging in an iPod (which I didn’t have with me), you couldn’t have tuned them out if you wanted.
My word of advice is this: when you are in public, carrying on conversations, whether with others in-person or on cell phones, etc., do us ALL a favor and take your circumstances into consideration! It’s a small world and not everyone needs to know what you are gossiping about or wants to hear about your neighbor’s liposuction which she refuses to admit she’s had “although everyone knows she did.” I know of people who have been literally fired from a gig because their catty remarks were overheard by someone influential, and the gossiping was reported to someone within the organization being “shared” about.
I just wrote about that the other day: “if you can’t say something to someone’s face, don’t say it behind their back.” Even more importantly is to use some discretion in what — and how loudly — you are saying it. I know more about these two ladies than I ever would have needed — or wanted. I don’t even KNOW them, but I can guarantee now that they aren’t people I would want to know. They behaved crassly, rudely, inconsiderately and anyone within 4 rows of that flight knows it.
Summer is coming and with it comes summer travel. Use your travel opportunities to leave a positive impression on your fellow road-warriors. Use the same policy for your social skills and manners that the old American Express commerical used to recommend: “don’t leave home without them.”