Q: On a recent flight, I was seated in front of two women who, although they were apparently strangers, spent the entire flight talking. I mean the entire flight. And it wasn’t just the usual airplane chit-chat about where they were from or where they were going—they discovered their mothers had similar stomach conditions and discussed this in great detail. (I won’t go into it here—suffice it to say that if either of their moms ate dairy, there were disastrous consequences. The word “mucus” was used repeatedly.) Isn’t it kind of rude to talk for two and a half hours if everyone around you can hear you, especially about topics like this?
A: Absolutely. There are two issues here: how loud these people were speaking and what they were talking about. Obviously, a plane is not a library, so you’re allowed to talk, but there’s no reason you need to speak so loudly that people seated in other rows can hear you. Keep your voice down as much as possible.
And secondly, even if you become instant BFFs with the person seated next to you, some topics are off-limits for public conversation. If you meet someone whose mom is going through the same difficult medical ordeal as yours, I can certainly understand wanting to open up about all sorts of things, but you still have to be considerate of the other people around you. Medical issues, particularly anything gastrointestinal and/or involving the word “mucus,” are best discussed in private.
Q: My hotel has a business center—it’s just a couple of computers with internet access and a printer. Is it okay to use it to check Facebook? I know that’s not really “business” but I would really like to use the computers.
A: Yes, but keep it snappy. Remember that you’re using the computers recreationally—it would be very rude to make someone wait 20 minutes to print a boarding pass because you’re deeply engrossed in Farmville.
Q: Is it tacky to bring a picnic lunch into an amusement park instead of spending big bucks on the greasy fast food they sell there?
A: It’s not tacky to bring a picnic—just make sure the park you’re visiting allows it. They all have different policies. Disney, for example, says in their online FAQ that it’s fine to bring snacks and “foods that do not require heating” into any of their parks. But you can’t bring any food to Six Flags Magic Mountain unless it’s for an infant or someone following a special diet. Before you go to the trouble of packing a lunch, check with the park.
by Lesley Carlin
© 2010, originally published by Scripps Howard News Service