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Wait for the Whistle

Posted by Peter Post November 26, 2013 07:00 AM

I was attending a University of Vermont men’s hockey game Sunday afternoon. The second period was only a minute old. Action on the ice was fast and furious. Then, suddenly from my left I hear, “Excuse us, excuse us.” And my view was blocked as this couple was trying to work their way across our row to get to their seats. All of a sudden my view was blocked and my attention was diverted from the game to trying to accommodate these latecomers.

“Unbelievable,” I thought to myself as I tried my let them pass as quickly as possible.

Seriously, they couldn’t wait for a whistle to blow and the action to come to a stop? That’s the considerate, fan-appropriate behavior. Whatever the sport, wait for a break in the action before crossing in front of people who have gotten to their seats on time. Better yet, make a real effort to get to your seats before game time.

The problem of late arrivals isn’t just limited to sporting events. I hear the same complaint from people attending concerts, the movies, a play, a wedding, or the opera. At some events, once the program has started ushers will keep latecomers from going to their seats until there is a natural break just so people already in their seats aren’t disturbed.

Regardless of the event, if you arrive late be considerate of the people already seated and wait until a break in the program before making your way to your seats.

By the way, when you do climb across in front of people already in a row at the movies, the theatre, or a stadium, you should face away from them. It’s one of the few times it’s okay to have your back to someone. That way if you do stumble, you don’t fall right into a stranger’s lap but instead can catch yourself on the back of the seat in front of you.

Limit the Negative Effects of Smoking On and Off the Golf Course

Posted by Peter Post November 18, 2013 07:00 AM

I was driving down the fairway at my local golf course last week when I noticed something that didn’t belong there. One of the things about golf courses in general is they tend to be relatively litter-free. The closer I got the more it became apparent that the object was a cigar butt.


I have been known to smoke an occasional cigar and I have even tried smoking one on the golf course. Frankly, I found it disruptive to my concentration on the course so I’ve stopped. But when I did smoke one, I, as well as the others in my group who smoked, took great pains 1. to extinguish it completely, and 2. to deposit it in an appropriate receptacle. Cigar butts, and for that matter cigarette butts, should not litter the golf course.

If you do want to enjoy a cigar or cigarette on the course here are seven tips to make sure your enjoyment doesn’t come at other peoples’ expense.

  1. Before lighting up, ask the others in your foursome if they will mind you smoking. It is especially important if you are sharing a golf cart to ask your fellow rider if he or she minds.
  2. If you are sharing a cart, you might consider walking while you indulge yourself.
  3. Pay attention to where your smoke is blowing. Try to position yourself downwind of others so your smoke doesn’t waft across them as you puff away. In particular, puffing away while standing upwind of someone who is about to make a shot is the height of discourtesy.
  4. If you decide to hold a cigar or cigarette in your mouth while you make a swing, be careful that you don’t inadvertently end up burning a hole in your shirt or sweater.
  5. Take care with where you deposit ashes. Special attention should be taken to avoid dropping them on the green.
  6. Don’t drop your lit cigar or cigarette on the green, either.
  7. Always dispose of butts safely and in an appropriate receptacle.

By the way, the advice for on the course is a good starting point for any time you light up a smoke: Ask first, position yourself so as not to bother to others, take care with your ashes, and extinguish and dispose of it appropriately.

The Selfish Funeral Selfie

Posted by Peter Post November 12, 2013 07:00 AM

I first came across what will hopefully be a relatively short-lived phenomena while reading a Huffington Post blog, “The 8 Selfies You Must Absolutely, Positively Never Take.” I had seen the title in a news item and decided to follow the thread.

And then I saw the first item: The Funeral Selfie. “You have got to be kidding me,” I thought to myself. People don’t really shoot a selfie of themselves at a funeral and then post it.

Sure enough, they do. Right there in the copy was a link to Tumblr where a post titled “Selfies at Funerals” shows a whole series of examples.

The girl in the first one posts a sincere message, “You never appreciate what you have until it’s gone. R. I. P. Grandpa, you will be missed.” Unfortunately, her selfie seems at odds with her message. Her short shorts seem out of place for the seriousness of the occasion and her expression is dubiously sad, but at least the message is sincere.

“Maybe,” I thought to myself, “I’m being quick to judgment. Maybe funeral selfies really are thoughtful, heartfelt tributes to the recently deceased. So I scrolled down to check out the others.


As I scrolled down, I spied the third selfie in which the writer seems more concerned about her hair than the funeral she is attending: “Love my hair today. Hate why I’m dressed up. #funeral.”

By the time I got to the “On our way to a funeral selfie” I thought I couldn’t be surprised by anything anyone posted in this genre, but again I was wrong. Tongues wagging out of gaping mouths lack any semblance of respect. The message: This is all just one big joke We’re here because we have to be.

The funeral selfie is simply outrageous. It is not about respect for the person who has died. As the term implies, it’s all about the self, the person shooting their own picture, and that is the antithesis of the purpose for attending a funeral or expressing one’s condolences. The title of the Huffington Post blog was right on: the funeral selfie is one selfie you absolutely positively should never take.

Finally, Flight Attendants Can Stop Being “Hall Monitors.”

Posted by Peter Post November 5, 2013 07:00 AM

"We're frankly tired of feeling like 'hall monitors' when it comes to this issue," Laura Glading, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, said in an article titled “FAA loosens rules for electronic devices during flights” in USA Today on November 1.

I’ve often wondered how the flight attendants felt about having to enforce what was a seemingly foolish directive. It’s readily apparent that the devices don’t affect the aircraft in flight. All one had to do was look around at nearby passengers and see how many devices were simply closed rather than shut down to realize planes have been flying safely with devices turned on for years.

I applaud this common sense change. The next step is for the airlines to certify that their planes will not be affected by devices being on, and I’m pleased airlines are moving quickly to get FAA acquiescence to change their in-flight passenger directives, and let people use their devices throughout the flight.

Along with privilege comes responsibility: responsibility on the passengers’ part to use their devices in a manner that does not negatively impact those around them. Here are four guidelines to make your use of your electronic device pleasant not only for you but also for your fellow passengers.

  1. Make sure content on your device won’t offend your seatmates or passengers walking up the aisle who may see your screen.
  2. Be careful about showing confidential information on your screen. You should assume the people next to you and near you can see anything on your screen.
  3. Use ear buds or headphones to listen to a show, movie, or music.
  4. Put your device down while the cabin crew makes its safety announcement at the beginning of the flight and take a moment to identify your closest emergency exit. That one moment of precaution could save your life.
I hope this FAA rules change will make the flight attendants’ jobs just a little easier. They already have plenty to do to make the journey safe and pleasant without having to be hall monitors, too.

About the author

Since 2004, Peter Post has tackled readers' questions in The Boston Sunday Globe's weekly business etiquette advice column, Etiquette at Work. The column is distributed by The New York Times More »

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