On Etiquette, Or The Lack Thereof

April 19, 2012 § 4 Comments

This is something that I’ve seen more than a few times in my life, and most of the time it’s (sadly) been in China or perpetrated by Chinese people. Sigh. I hate to post a rant about my own people, but this is just embarrassing and most of all RUDE!

I went to another press event this afternoon — it was a very intimate affair, with only seven media people and about just as many of the brand’s employees flitting about. We were tucked in the corner of the cosmetics department behind the counter of the brand whose launch we were attending, seated in folding chairs almost elbow-to-elbow. It was scheduled to start at 2PM but didn’t begin until around 2:30, which is an issue in itself, but I’m slowly getting used to this delayed timekeeping. (The only thing that worries me is that I’m not sure if I make a good impression by showing up on time — and first — or if I just look like a huge n00b. But mother would be proud.)

Once the event was ready to begin, the general manager started her welcoming spiel and was half a sentence in until she noticed that two of the attendees were still on their phones, so she paused to let them finish. One of them quickly ended her conversation, while the other literally kept going for a full minute while the rest of us waited. I was like, are you serious?? Do you not see us sitting here waiting for you? (Cue dramatic eye-rolling from me.) She wasn’t speaking loudly or anything, but obviously they wanted everyone’s full attention before beginning. After all, there were only seven of us in the audience.

As the event went on, we got to watch a demonstration of one of the brand’s new facials, conducted by one of their professional international trainers who had a British accent. About five minutes into it, as the therapist was explaining the process, the lady sitting next to me received a phone call and actually picked it up. I was flabbergasted. Like, who is so important that you can’t miss one call? (I wouldn’t know because both these women spoke Cantonese into their phones.) Do you not know that there’s this thing called texting that allows you to communicate with other people without blatantly disrupting what’s going on around you?!

She carried on her conversation quietly, but since she was sitting right next to me, I was distracted both by her talking and my ire, so I just side-eyed her as demeaningly as I could without appearing unprofessional. There aren’t many other options for reacting to this situation.

This is seriously a problem, guys. I remember during class one time at HKU, a girl actually picked up the phone during the lecture (it was in a regular-sized classroom) and ducked behind her laptop so as not to be noticed. (I might have blogged about this before.) I was shocked. I mean, these people can’t all have a relative on his deathbed, right?? Or a friend flying in from overseas who is calling from a pay phone? Those are the only acceptable scenarios I can come up with.

Anyway, I might just be particularly sensitive about this. I even hate it when I’m with a friend and she constantly checks her phone or texts someone without telling me what she’s doing. Like, are you with me or are you with your phone?? Can you give it a rest or at least let me know what’s going on that’s so interesting over there? Ugh. People and their phones need to learn some manners.

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§ 4 Responses to On Etiquette, Or The Lack Thereof

  • moses11 says:

    If I may offer an explanation (not a justification) for why this might be. It is actually a cultural thing and something you will see from many collectivist cultures ei not European cultures. Basically if I remember my Sociology teacher correctly, people from these cultures have a tendency to put relationships and such as the primary focus. As a result work is listed as secondary, meaning that lateness or picking up a phone is not considered rude per se since the person could be held up by family member or friend.

  • kaiti says:

    I think that’s just inconsiderate and not professional. I don’t care what their society’s norms are, it’s a very basic level of respect to give a speaker as an audience member. And it did happen all the time at HKU lectures, and it certainly didn’t seem like the professors appreciated it. Some students were even called out for it. If it’s a cultural thing, then why are the native professors bothered by the behavior?

    RUDE END OF STORY. UGH

    and in that small of a vicinity?!?! people have some thick skin!

  • kaiti says:

    i like the new layout btw. more mature but also cute!

  • kaiti says:

    haha and yes! if a friend is on the phone or messaging when she’s with me.. i always wonder…what’s so interesting?!?!

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