It's been a long time since Etiquetteer did a column on Random Issues, and some readers have, with Delicious Irreverence, provided some interesting queries: Dear Etiquetteer:
Could you please address adopting local customs when traveling. When in New Orleans, how proper is it to return your breakfast diner waitress's greeting of "Hey, baby" in kind?
After the second coffee refill seems safest.
How do you handle office mates asking for donations?
With kid gloves that come nowhere near Etiquetteer's wallet, if you're really asking how to decline colleagues asking for donations. It's always possible to say, with a tone of Infinite Regret, "And it's such a good cause, too, but I have other charitable priorities right now." They don't need to know what that other priority is - indeed, it could be You Yourself - so don't volunteer the information.
Dear Etiquetteer: When the real estate agent arrives to show your house two hours late, and you've already scheduled the rest of your afternoon, what is best to do: order him off the stoop, or bow to his and his client's inability to pace their time properly?
Dear Intruded Upon:
Etiquetteer knows some lovely realtors, and has heard stories about the rest. Long story short, your time is just as valuable as theirs, and if they aren't able to adjust to your schedule, then they need to go back to the drawing board. Gently but firmly explain that visiting hours were determined in advance for a reason, and that no accommodation can be made at the last minute.
How about rainy day etiquette? Where to stash the umbrella, boots, and what-not.
Dear Rained Upon:
Umbrellas and boots go in the places provided for them, which one hopes are close to the entrance where one removes them. It's not always possible to unfurl an umbrella indoors to dry it, so it's especially thoughtful of homeowners to provide one of those marvelous umbrella stands that can hold about a quart of water if necessary.
Victorians always kept their whatnots in the corner, which is really the best place for them.
When one runs over a tourist during Mardi Gras in New Orleans, is it permissible to leave the dried tourist on the car until you can get to a car wash, or should it be washed away at once to prevent damage to the paint of one's car? I realize that this is more of a practical question, rather than an etiquette question, but I have always wondered . . .
Dear Laissez Les Autos Roulez:
It's queries like this that make Etiquetteer glad that New Orleans doesn't have an open carry law. But seriously . . .
Unless you want to be mistaken for a float in the parade representing Cemetery No. One, Etiquetteer advises immediate, respectful removal.