Mind Your Pints And Quarts

Historians can’t agree on the origin of the phrase “Mind your Ps and Qs” but I like the one that suggests they are referring to pints and quarts in the pub. The bartender would holler out for a rowdy crowd to mind their Ps and Qs. Don’t be a bunch of jerks. Use your manners.

Maybe it’s because I work with young children who are not prone to listening all day, or because my teenagers come home and use up what little patience I have left, but I have very little tolerance for adults who do not use their manners and even less restraint when they are blatantly rude. I am so appreciative to the parents I work with because sometimes the few minutes we converse at drop off and pick up are my only reminder that I deserve to be listened to, not because I am asserting my authority, but because I am interesting. I deserve and engaging conversation because I am an engaging person.

I don’t want to give you the impression I spend the day with naughty kids, but I spend the day with two 2 year olds, so I’m not going to try to convince you that this is easy. It is a constant challenge to remind them that there are expectations and rules and consequences for their behavior.

An actual conversation from yesterday:

Me: The couch is for your bottom, feet go on the floor.

Sharkboy: *jump jump jump*

Me: Your bottom goes on the couch.

SB: I can’t want to sit my bottom.

Me: The rule is, feet go on the floor.

SB: I can’t want the rule.

And today:

Me: It’s time to go in.

SB: I can’t want to go in,

Me: We are going in.

SB: I can’t want to go in.

Repeat until exhausted. Not really. I just go in and he follows me because after two and a half years he knows I am not, in fact, going to wear myself out playing two year old games. With anyone.

So, my patience level wass about topped off when speaking with Oldest Daughter’s school. (I’m still working on clever nicknames for everyone, sorry.) I have no idea who they transferred me to. I know her name but not what her function is or exactly why I’m being redirected to her office. She answers her office phone, “Hello?”

I’ve worked in an office. I answered the phone with the name of the business and my name so often that I sometimes said the whole spiel in my sleep.

Me: Er, hello, is this Mrs. Bungleface?

MBF: Yes.

(This is where her boss should shoot her a look for not saying, “How may I help you?” I can only assume Bungleface works in a void with no boss and no pleasantries.)

Me: I was calling about a discrepancy in my daughter’s attendance report.

MBF: Ok.

(Long pause as I wait for her to confirm I am on the phone with someone who can help me. I was not.)

Me: *explain issue* *ask question*

MBF: I can’t fix that.

Me: Oh. Can you…

MBF: If you would have called a week ago maybe.

Me: Oh. Sorry. Then can…

MBF: But nothing can be done now.

Me: You can’t even…

MBF: No.

(I wish I were kidding, but I’m not.)

Me: *too quickly and much too loudly* Youcan’tevenanswermyquestion?

MBF: Which question? No.

Maybe I just got punked. Some random teenager just happened to be in Mrs. Bungleface’s office waiting for her return and decided to answer the phone. That would explain the unruly teenager type talk we had. It wasn’t that awful, I haven’t gotten to awful yet, but it certainly wasn’t professional.

When I was 20 I was promoted to a quality control position in a carpet cleaning business I had just joined and knew nothing about. I knew nothing about our products, our services or quality control. I knew I was a young mother who needed a job and could not turn down a promotion. After two weeks of training, mostly on the telephone, answering calls from irate customers, I was given a raise. No one else wanted to talk to these people and it turned out I was well suited for it. The complaints didn’t offend me because they were not about me or my services and I could knock any call out in about 5 minutes with my bag of tricks. I’m going to share my secret with you now.


Please, thank you and the ultimate get down to business and get off the phone conversation ender, “How may I help you?” Now, in troubled times, like say the carpet cleaner kicked a poodle when he though the owner wasn’t looking, I had to pull out, “What can I do to make this better for you?” Which is the same thing but it sounds more serious. Commit that line to memory. Make it a habit. Next time someone is in your face about something simply ask, “What would you like done about this?” Most of the time you will find they just wanted to bitch about it for awhile.

This brings me to Ms. Awful. I called her to return some tiny doll sized swim diapers I bought for my normal sized children.

Me: Hi, I am calling about the email form I was asked to fill out for returning these diapers. Your return policy does not indicate that I must make an even exchange but that seems to be the only option on the form.

MA: Uh huh. I know.

Me: So, what do I do to get my money back?”

MA: If there wasn’t nothin’ wrong with ’em you can’t get your money back, you have to just send ’em over for a new pair the exact same.

Me: Well neither of these pairs fit and the bigger sizes don’t come in the same print so I…

MA: Now you just hush and wait. Too small ain’t our fault so the policy says if there’s nothing wrong you need to exchange them.

Me: The policy I was sent in an email after I requested help returning them indicates they must be exchanged, your return policy, though…

MA: I know what our return policy is, I work here.

The whole conversation went pretty much the same until I asked to be connected to a supervisor who was quite helpful. You can argue that this isn’t about manners, but rather poor business practice, and I would have to agree, but I think manners are a part of sensible business.

I try not to judge people based on their fashion sense or lack thereof, even if they are wearing black socks with tennis shoes and shorts. I try to ignore weird habits, close talking, bad breath and many of the other small indicators we often use to pre-judge one another, but I can’t go around just automatically liking everyone. I used to do that and it got exhausting. I need some indication of who is worth getting to know and who should remain a  friend of a friend.


Good people have good manners. I know it’s not really that simple but… yes it is. Say please and thank you, don’t interrupt, chew with your mouth closed and hold the door open, for everyone, not just women and the elderly but especially mothers with a load of children and groceries and the elderly. Listen and respond. Take turns. Share. Cover your mouth when you yawn or sneeze and say excuse me if you burp or bump into someone. All of these things indicate to me that you have a sense of decency and the ability to form good habits and interact in society. If you can’t handle that, I don’t want to share my pints and quarts with you.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ninja Mom
    May 19, 2012 @ 02:33:11

    Yes! Awesome! I agree. Except when I sometimes, really only after being extremely annoyed by the same company, lose my mind on the phone with a representative. I know I should aim higher, take the ethical path. Alas, I am but human and the Ms. Awfuls of the world get under my skin . . . Sometimes.


    • razfabulous
      May 19, 2012 @ 18:49:24

      Oh yeah, I go from professional and courteous to batshit crazy customer in the blink of an eye. Like I say, my patience level is usually hovering above the empty line by the end of the day and I have to save all of that for teenagers. I can’t use it up on people who suck at their job.


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