Mrs. McVeigh's Manners
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Good Manners and Volunteer Work


            I had a reader tell me she went to her child’s school the other day as a volunteer cashier in the cafeteria. The volunteer sitting next to her talked to her the whole time about how terrible her life was going. The reader said it was so depressing to hear this woman go on and on, she had to go talk to a friend during a lull just to get a break from this woman. Is it rude to bring your personal life to a volunteer job? Here are some things to remember when volunteering.


·      Treat a volunteer job just like a real job. You would not bring your personal problems to the office, so do not do that when volunteering.

·      Take the volunteer job seriously. If you have a deadline, then meet it. If you are supposed to make phone calls, recruit other volunteers, or stay within a budget, then do your best to accomplish what others are expecting you to accomplish.

·      Show up on time, and if you are running late, have a phone number handy to call someone to let him know.

·      If you cannot fulfill your volunteer commitment, then find your replacement. Do not put it back on other people in the organization. Do you best to find someone who can do the job as well, or better than you could.

·      Feel free to turn down a volunteer job. Saying yes out of guilt or because it is your best friend and she really needs your help could lead to disaster. Someone rather have you say no then do a bad job, or quit in the middle of it. Feel free to ask a lot of questions first, ask to speak to the person who had the job before you, and make sure the job meets your other goals in life.


            Being a good volunteer is important. Complaining or being negative during a volunteer job, or about a volunteer job makes it a lot less fun for the other volunteers. Use it as a fun distraction from your everyday life, and feel good that you are helping others.



Text-speak affects thank you notes

My sons are writing their thank you notes for Christmas presents to all of the relatives. I look them over before we mail them off, and I noticed one wrote “Thx” instead of “Thanks”. Before I could give him a lecture on how inappropriate this is, he replies, “Sorry Mom. I did not mean to, and did not even notice that I wrote that.”

“Text-speak” has become integrated into our lives. Adults who have been alive long enough typically do not have a hard time with abbreviating everything in more formal correspondence, but younger people are being raised with this form of communication. It is affecting their everyday writing, and I have heard of teachers really struggling with getting students to stop using this form of language.             

Let’s review the rules of when text-speak is appropriate. If you are truly texting or emailing a friend, then it is fine. If you are emailing a friend asking him to forward your resume on, then I make it more formal. You never know if someone is going to copy and paste the part that is appropriate for anyone else to see, or if he will just forward on your original email. If it is an email to anyone at work, then formal is better. Texting a co-worker with abbreviated words is fine if it is a personal matter, but not if it is someone higher than you.   

Explain to any students living in your household that teachers and professors expect complete sentences and correct grammar and punctuation. Tell your child to proof read his emails to make sure the tone is clear, and that misspelled words and bad grammar are a distraction from the point that he is trying to get across.

Last, but not least, when you are hand writing a thank you note, use complete words and sentences, and double check that there is not any “text-speak” in the note. 

To Re-gift or Not to Re-gift – What is the Etiquette?

 The holidays are over, and you may have a few gifts that you are not pleased with. My theory is if I am not going to use something, I should be nice and pass it along to someone who will. Is it okay to re-gift our unwanted holiday gifts, and what do you do if you get caught?

            My favorite place to re-gift is Goodwill. It is safe because there because it is highly unlikely that anyone I know would likely walk into a specific Goodwill where my gift is, and know that it was given to me from her. Giving your gift to a charity may not be an option to you. You may think your gift would be appreciated by someone you personally know, or that the gift is too nice or new to give to a charity. If this is the case, a good option is to be upfront with the person you are passing it along to, presenting it as just giving them something, and not as a “gift”. When you do pass it along, obviously make sure the original gift-giver will not see the item given to someone else if you think it will hurt his feelings.            

            I had an item re-gifted to me as a house-warming gift. When I opened up the gift’s box to get out the item, I found a card that said “Happy Housewarming Mary and Jim - From Sue and Dan Smith”.  Make sure you check and double check that the original gift does not have any type of personalization in it, such as writing in the inside cover of a book, or an inscription on the bottom of the item. In my situation, I was insulted, and it made me think twice (and sort of paranoid) about re-gifting. What to do if you get caught re-gifting? Try to make light of the situation, be upfront and explain why you are re-gifting, such as it was a duplicate gift, and knew the person would enjoy it as much as you have.

To be safe, consider being honest about your re-gifting, or give it to a charity. If you are given something that is obviously re-gifted, never mention it to the gift giver, no matter how much you would like to her that she is “busted”. Unfortunately that is bad manners.

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