by Borderstan.com June 17, 2013 at 2:00 pm 5 Comments

From Fox Deatry. Email him at fox[AT]borderstan.com.

"Southern"

DC is to the south of the North, but in reality is a Northern city. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Now that DC Pride is over and the studs of Nellie’s could finally revert back to eating solid food without worrying about flabs on the parade float, I couldn’t help but wonder about the fascinating crowd that this town attracts.

As it seems, Southern ‘Homo’ Sapiens look at DC as though it is the Emerald City — a promised land of sorts with less prejudice and no Piggly Wigglies.

Now you would think that these cornbread-fed studs would bring their Southern gentility into this city. But after sheer observation, their transformation from a Fiddle-Dee-Dee to a Yankee Doodle Gal seems to have taken a bad turn in the spirit of fitting in.

Now, in my continuing public service, it is my duty to point out proper urban-DC etiquette that will certainly make our new residents fit in while not sticking out… in a bad way.

  1. The humidity levels might be the same, Robert E. Lee might be occasionally mentioned, but DC is more Northern than Southern whatever the Mason-Dixon Line says. This certainly brings more diversity, so my best advice is exposure — not indecent, the cultural kind. Check out the ethnic restaurants along 14th Street. Expanding your food palette makes you look more sophisticated. Besides, knowing these places makes you a sudden cultural attaché and it would impress certain dates.
  2. Carrie Bradshaw might have said love and labels, but I have to disagree with the latter. Wearing labels is fine if you’re earning dough from it. So boys, please tuck away those Abercrombie shirts with ‘Abercrombie’ on them. It doesn’t make you look fashionable, it makes you fashion road kill — opossum style.
  3. I know you want to be Metro Weekly’s cover boy — after all, that attracts more tail — but, sweetie darling, please don’t be on every photo-op for every DC event. It makes you an attention wh*** (bleep). Now, there are exceptions: if it is good for tourism, shores up the economy and lowers the unemployment rate then it’s acceptable.
  4. Washingtonians love to drink, as evidence of the many bars that line U and 14th Streets. We even have a place of worship dedicated to such (check Church Key). But when you get invited to a party, my advice is to leave that bottle of Moonshine at home. Go to Whole Foods or Trader Joes and check out a nice bottle of white wine. Vines from Napa and Southern America attract positive attention.
  5. This is no longer that massive Tara Plantation you are used to inhabitating. Space is a luxury. This brings me to bikes. Urban etiquette calls for biking on to those narrow, taxpayer-funded lanes. And it ‘ain’t fittin’ if you are not wearing those helmets. In the subway, remember to stay on the right side of the escalator if you will be idled to let those busy, oh-so-late folks rush to their K Street jobs (eye-roll). For driving, keep away from Dupont Circle. It’s more confusing than the first time you started liking boys. It is best to drive there early, early morning when only rodents are present – that way you can familiarize yourself with those one-way streets. Remember, a wrong turn in this city will make you end up in Virginia.

These are only a few rules. But my best advice to Southern boys is to never lose that gentility — maybe the parasol and the ivory mittens, which you can save for the annual Halloween Drag Queen Race. Regardless, this town needs politeness, and if that isn’t the case today then maybe tomorrow.

After all, tomorrow is another day.

This column first ran June 12, 2012.

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by Borderstan.com May 1, 2013 at 2:00 pm 0

"Borderstan""Smoker", smoking etiquette, urban etiquette, Luis Gomez Photos

Yes, dear reader, there is smoking etiquette for outdoor spaces, too. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Mike Kohn. Have an urban etiquette wrong that needs to be righted? Drop Mike a line at [email protected] or find him on Twitter @mike_kohn.

Here’s a (admittedly slightly over dramatic) letter I composed in my head as I was heading down 17th Street NW the other day:

Dear guy with the pipe who decided to blow smoke in my face as I walked by,

Did you know that that’s incredibly irritating? If you’re going to smoke on the street, pay slightly closer attention to where you blow it out so you can avoid pissing people off. I realize that it would’ve been difficult to either hold it for one extra second or turn your head, but it would’ve been nicer for me and the couple walking just a few feet behind me. Thanks for keeping that in mind.

Sincerely,

Vomiting on the sidewalk

Now, smoking isn’t my cup of tea, but I really don’t have a problem with it. There are plenty of considerate smokers out there who do it just fine. But then there’s the few crappy ones who really just ruin it for everyone.

  • Don’t blow smoke in other people’s faces. Okay, if that was new or a surprise to you, you really should just not be allowed to buy cigarettes. Seriously.
  • Along the same lines, consider where your smoke is going. Are you hanging with other people? Maybe position yourself so it goes downwind.
  • Avoid smoking in overly crowded public areas. So I’ve seen people smoking at the dog park on 17th Street NW, outside the playground of Ross Elementary on R Street NW and on the escalator going down to the metro. It’s just a courtesy to put it out when there are lots of other people (and cute puppies and kids!) in a densely packed area. Just something to consider.
  • Put it out in an ashtray. No, that doesn’t mean the street. I like seeing a clean sidewalk… which does not include stepping in tobacco from the cigarette that was split open.

Kapish?

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by Borderstan.com December 24, 2012 at 8:00 am 1,038 0

"lifestyle"

The No. 1 story in the Lifestyle section for 2012. (Luis Gomez Photos)

It’s that time again… a look back before we start 2013. Like last December, we will provide you with a list of the most-read stories on Borderstan by category. Today are the Top 10 from the Lifestyle section for 2012.

The web is forever, so they say. Posted stories continue to get hits long after originally going up on the site. As a result, some of the most-read stories for the year were sometimes published the year before — especially if they were published late the year before.

Top 10 Bordertan Lifestyle Stories of 2012

These stories were Top 10 most read in 2012 in the Lifestyle section on Borderstan.com. Former columnist Scott Thompson had 4 of the Top 10 stories with his musings about life and former pet-writer Tori Tyree had three of The Top 10.

  1. How to Succeed at Chipotle Without Really Crying (Scott Thompson)
  2. 10 Things I Wish I Had Known When I Graduated From College (Scott Thompson)
  3. Beyond Neverland: The Art of (Finally) Growing Up in Washington, DC (Scott Thompson)
  4. The Virtues of Pumpkin and Yogurt for Doggy Digestive Ills (Tori Tyree)
  5. Cat Scratch Fever: 5 Tips to Protect that New Sofa (Not Declawing) (Tori Tyree)
  6. The Great Migration (Fox Deatry)
  7. Urban Etiquette: Dudes, Don’t Show Your Junk on the Balcony (Mary El Pearce)
  8. Pit Bull Myths and Facts (Do You Fear Newfoundlands?) (Tori Tyree)
  9. DC Rent Prices: How High is Too High? (Rachel Nania)
  10. A Talk with The Greatest Generation: “I Would Like To Go Dancing Again” (Scott Thompson)

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by Borderstan.com October 24, 2012 at 1:00 pm 1,160 1 Comment

Borderstan, urban parking etiquette

A plethora of thoughtless parking pigs: Can you spot the problems? (Luis Gomez Photos)

Are you a parking pig? Do you park indiscriminately… without a care in the world… no thought given to your neighbors? Consider the following scenario.

It’s 9:30 pm. You’re driving home from a trip to a friend’s house in the suburbs. You slow down as you reach the block in front of your building, looking for a spot to park.

Then you see it: a car parked about 10 feet forward from the end of the legally marked parking zone. Moreover, the driver has left about seven feet between his car and the one in front. What should be room for three or more cars of most any size is now home to two cars. All the driver had to do was park the car at the very end of the legal spaces, leaving room in front for another car.

Cue the cursing.

(more…)

by Borderstan.com October 15, 2012 at 2:00 pm 0

From Mike Kohn. Have an urban etiquette right that needs to be wronged? Find Mike on Twitter at@mike_kohn or email him at mike[AT]borderstan.com.

"Networking"

Don’t be afraid to call. (Luis Gomez Photos)

With the job market as it is, any new contact is a good one, right? While it seems like that’s the case, burning a bridge with someone you just met doesn’t quite do what you’re looking to accomplish (obviously). As someone who works in human resources and has recently transitioned into a new job, I can vouch for the value of networking.

Despite my strong need to do things on my own, looking at it from the other side, if a highly valued employee is willing to put their reputation on the line in order to represent a contact of theirs, it stands to reason that they’re someone worth talking to. No, they may not be the best person to fill a particular job, but the point is to get a foot in the door — and then the rest is up to them from there.

The best time to do some networking is when you’re not immediately looking for a job. You’re looking for these relationships to be mutually beneficial. In other words, you want to avoid being the person who only gets in touch when they need a job or some other favor. That being said, if that’s the position you’re in, then that’s where you are, and you’ve just got to power through.

Some Steps to Remember

Let’s say you’re given the information of someone you would like to meet through a current contact. So what are some things to keep in mind?

  • Do reach out. You’ve got nothing to lose by sending a nice email or phone call asking if you can learn more about someone and their organization by spending 30 minutes with them at coffee or lunch, etc. While you’re naturally looking for a yes, don’t be hurt if you get declined. If that does happen, be sure to respond kindly — you never know when your paths may cross, not to mention this was a referral from your contact.
  • Don’t delay in responding to your contact’s connection. If you’re not interested, say so. If you are, don’t wait for three weeks. This is particularly important if your contact has given their connection a heads up, or if your contact sends a note to both you and the new connection.
  • Do plan ahead to make sure you get out of your conversation what you want. You’re getting in touch, so you’re setting the agenda. The new connection may have things they want to share, but you need to do your preparation in advance, including getting a basic knowledge of who the person is, and why you’re meeting with them so you both can be in the other’s network.
  • Do ask a lot of questions when you’re talking.
  • Do listen. And listen. And listen some more.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation by talking about yourself. That’s not why you’re there.
  • Maybe ask if you can pass along your resume in case opportunities crop up that are a good fit for you. If the vibe feels right like you’ve made a reasonable connection and it seems like this person can help, then go for it, but use your best judgment. Again, if you’re not in an “I need a job right now” situation, then you can relax and save this for a later time.
  • Do send a follow-up thanking the connection for their time. Seems like this would be common sense, but it’s not. This one goes a long way for someone you’d like to do you a favor.

The question of payment does come up frequently, particularly if you’re going for coffee or lunch. Personally, I’m indifferent. If you’re in a position where you can afford it, then go right ahead and offer to take someone out — they’re doing you a favor, so you might as well pick up their latte, and they’ll appreciate it. If you don’t feel like you can, then don’t sweat it.

If you’re unsure and feeling uneasy about what to do, plan on paying and at least make the offer to pay (and go for coffee, not a meal).

Any other networking tips you’ve found useful in your travels?

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by Borderstan.com July 9, 2012 at 8:00 am 1,504 1 Comment

From Namita Koppa. Email her at namita[AT]borderstan.com.

"Dancing"

Barcode: What does it mean?

Author’s Note: All stories presented are actual life experiences of male and female Borderstan residents. Their anonymity shall be preserved.

•  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •

I’ve lost track of how many bars there are in Borderstan. In the neighborhood, we literally have places to imbibe on every corner. It follows that we have a robust drinking culture here, too. Along with drinking comes merriment, of which we greatly approve.

However, there is a darker side to revelry. Since Stephanie Meyer published the Twilight series, I’ve noticed that human conduct (under the influence) has gone from fun and frivolous to well, more vampire-like. After asking around, I realized I wasn’t the only one seeing this.

Here are some similarities between Twilight and DC bar behavior

Every time he touched me, in even the most casual way, my heart had an audible reaction.
-Bella Swan, Twilight, Chapter 16, p.335

“I was chatting with a hot guy during happy hour one Friday. He reached up to point to something, only his hand grazed my breast in the process. He didn’t apologize. I covered my breast at that point. Less than 10 seconds later, he grabbed the hem of my dress and shook it. I told him to knock it off, he got angry and touched me again! I left pissed and uncomfortable.”

I’m feeling extremely insignificant.
-Bella Swan, Twilight, Chapter 15, p.326

“It was really late one night on 17th street. I was walking home, and out of nowhere, a guy came out and spanked me with his hand. Just like that! I ran home.”

Yeah, it’s an off day when I don’t get somebody telling me how edible I smell.
-Bella Swan, Twilight, Chapter 14, p.306

“I was out one night with a guy friend on U Street. We’re drinking and making jokes, it’s all good! Until he leaned over, hugged me and wound up putting his face in my boobs, and bit me in the arm…don’t think that’s allowed in The Saloon! Not to mention he made an obnoxious comment about how “if he didn’t have a girlfriend…” Let’s just say Dracula is not my friend anymore, and that I feel really sorry for his girlfriend.”

I tried to flirt — it worked better than I thought it would.
Bella Swan, Twilight, Chapter 9, p.184

“A year ago, I went out with a former friend. We had a flirty thing up to that point, but he had a girlfriend so I counted on nothing crossing the line. We had been drinking a lot…he started unbuttoning my top in the bar. I didn’t know what to do, so I just got out of there as soon as I could. Looking back, it was scary as crap. I don’t talk to him anymore, really.”

I’m not quite that delicate.
Bella Swan, Twilight, Chapter 10, p.197

“Went out dancing with my girls on a weekend, and somehow wound up with some guy trying to grind me into a wall. His hands were everywhere, so I slapped him and told him to back off.”

If you want to defend yourselves just in case your night of inebriated revelry turns Twilight on you, check out the self-defense classes at the Luminous Warrior studio in Chinatown. For even more resources, feel free to contact namita[at]borderstan[dot]com.

For those of you who don’t grope, grab, spank, bite or undress your friends or strangers without consent in public places, thank you for keeping our social lives and neighborhoods enjoyable.

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by Borderstan.com June 12, 2012 at 2:00 pm 1,187 0

"Southern"

DC  is to the south of the North, but in reality is a Northern city. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Fox Deatry. Email him at fox[AT]borderstan.com.

Now that DC Pride is over and the studs of Nellie’s could finally revert back to eating solid food without worrying about flabs on the parade float, I couldn’t help but wonder about the fascinating crowd that this town attracts. As it seems, Southern ‘Homo’ Sapiens look at DC as though it is the Emerald City — a promised land of sorts with less prejudice and no Piggly Wigglies.

Now you would think that these cornbread-fed studs would bring their Southern gentility into this city. But after sheer observation, their transformation from a Fiddle-Dee-Dee to a Yankee Doodle Gal seems to have taken a bad turn in the spirit of fitting in. Now, in my continuing public service, it is my duty to point out proper urban-DC etiquette that will certainly make our new residents fit in while not sticking out… in a bad way.

  1. The humidity levels might be the same, Robert E. Lee might be occasionally mentioned, but DC is more Northern than Southern whatever the Mason-Dixon Line says. This certainly brings more diversity, so my best advice is exposure — not indecent, the cultural kind. Check out the ethnic restaurants along 14th Street. Expanding your food palette makes you look more sophisticated. Besides, knowing these places makes you a sudden cultural attaché and it would impress certain dates.
  2. Carrie Bradshaw might have said love and labels, but I have to disagree with the latter. Wearing labels is fine if you’re earning dough from it. So boys, please tuck away those Abercrombie shirts with ‘Abercrombie’ on them. It doesn’t make you look fashionable, it makes you fashion road kill — opossum style.
  3. I know you want to be Metro Weekly’s cover boy — after all, that attracts more tail — but, sweetie darling, please don’t be on every photo-op for every DC event. It makes you an attention wh*** (bleep). Now, there are exceptions: if it is good for tourism, shores up the economy and lowers the unemployment rate then it’s acceptable.
  4. Washingtonians love to drink, as evidence of the many bars that line U and 14th Streets. We even have a place of worship dedicated to such (check Church Key). But when you get invited to a party, my advice is to leave that bottle of Moonshine at home. Go to Whole Foods or Trader Joes and check out a nice bottle of white wine. Vines from Napa and Southern America attract positive attention.
  5. This is no longer that massive Tara Plantation you are used to inhabitating. Space is a luxury. This brings me to bikes. Urban etiquette calls for biking on to those narrow, taxpayer-funded lanes. And it ‘ain’t fittin’ if you are not wearing those helmets. In the subway, remember to stay on the right side of the escalator if you will be idled to let those busy, oh-so-late folks rush to their K Street jobs (eye-roll). For driving, keep away from Dupont Circle. It’s more confusing than the first time you started liking boys. It is best to drive there early, early morning when only rodents are present – that way you can familiarize yourself with those one-way streets. Remember, a wrong turn in this city will make you end up in Virginia.

These are only a few rules. But my best advice to Southern boys is to never lose that gentility — maybe the parasol and the ivory mittens, which you can save for the annual Halloween Drag Queen Race. Regardless, this town needs politeness, and if that isn’t the case today then maybe tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.

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by Borderstan.com May 15, 2012 at 10:00 am 2,241 5 Comments

"Balcony""Borderstan"

Guys, don't show your junk on the balcony, and that includes ALL of your junk. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Mary El Pearce. Follow her on Twitter@CupcakesDC and email her at maryelp[At]borderstan.com.

When I first moved into my apartment, I was pleased with the courtyard view I shared with half of the other residents. My unit sits in the dip of the U-shaped building, so the view is really more of the neighbors than of a pretty courtyard. I imagined lounging on my balcony with a book and glass of lemonade and making light conversation with everyone else doing the same thing.

While it hasn’t been exactly what I imagined, the way I’m situated has proved to be quite pleasant and advantageous. More than once I’ve locked myself out and relied on my neighbors to let me balcony hop over to my apartment, and other neighbors have given me eggs and wine when I was in dire straits.

What hasn’t been pleasant are the neighbors across the way who have very loud fights on their balcony, slamming their sliding glass door again and again in fits of rage and screaming, “IT’S OVER!” (and we all desperately hope they mean it this time, but they never do). But this isn’t even the worst offense.

During peaceful times in their tumultuous relationship, they tend to their various plants in their underwear. And these are not the types of bodies one might enjoy gazing upon first thing in the morning. Their flabby, hairy, washed out and sagging skin is only briefly interrupted by ratty, tighty-dingies (cannot be described as “whities”) that accentuate their limp, bulging packages. Up until last week that’s the most I had seen of either of them.

Then — oh, help me — I was sipping my coffee last Saturday, admiring the stillness of the morning under the rising sun, when a motion across the way caught my eye. And there he was, in all his glory, pulling back the curtains sans anything. My mouth dropped open and coffee dribbled out — the shock sent me into a temporarily comatose state. Then I gagged. Where was this man raised, in a nudist colony?

Dude, Urban Etiquette 101: Keep your junk off the balcony.

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by Borderstan.com May 1, 2012 at 2:00 pm 1,746 1 Comment

"Borderstan""Bicycles and People"

It is not really easy to ride on the sidewalks. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Mary El Pearce. Follow her on Twitter@CupcakesDC and email her at maryelp[At]borderstan.com.

Bicyclers… we need to talk.

I know everyone and their tourist mother (including other Borderstan writers) have complained about people riding their bikes on sidewalk, but I want my voice to be heard as well. As a fellow bicycler, as well as pedestrian and driver, I feel I have a unique point of view on the topic.

I’ll admit, when I first moved to D.C., I rode my bike on sidewalks. Ever the goodie goodie, I did my due diligence and researched bike laws, which state that I can legally ride my bike on the sidewalk outside of the central business district, defined as 2nd Street NE and SE, D Street SE and SW, 14th Street SW and NW, Constitution Avenue NW, 23rd Street NW and Massachusetts Avenue NW.

Since it was legal in most places, I thought the responsible thing to do was ride on the sidewalk, the safer place to be versus the scary streets with the road ragers and hardcore cyclists whose shoes clip into their pedals. I ignored the scowls from pedestrians and rang my bell happily to let them know I was behind them and that they should get out of the way.

I was wrong (and not just about that annoying bell).

Turns out the streets are the much safer place to be when you’re on something with wheels — except a wheelchair, people in wheelchairs can go wherever they want and the rest of us can deal with it. Drivers are used to going around slow or stopped vehicles, and enough people ride bicycles that drivers have learned to share the roads.

When I’m driving it’s an inconvenience, for sure, to get stuck behind a cyclist, but I much prefer that to being a cyclist stuck behind pedestrians. It’s the safer and easier alternative, and you will avoid having random people develop rage anger against you, as I did the other day when a cyclist almost hit me on the sidewalk and I shouted behind him, “Watch where you’re going!”

Of course he was gone before I could do anything more than shake my fist at him, which is why I wanted to take this opportunity to remind you not to be inconsiderate and keep your bike on the street.

That also goes for Segways… don’t even get me started.

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by Borderstan.com April 18, 2012 at 2:00 pm 0

"Borderstan""Balconies"

Remember that we live very close to each other in this neighborhood. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Candida Mannozzi. You can reach her at candida[AT]borderstan.com.

Borderstanis, with the warmer weather upon us (and boy, are we getting some temperature spikes!) we are all pouring out of our homes to enjoy time outdoors. Be it sidewalk cafes, outdoor seating at our favorite restaurants, or, for the lucky among us, our own patio, deck or balcony, there we all are: enjoying the mild weather and the lengthening afternoons and evenings. The presence of more people and pets outdoors makes the city feel festive, alive and buzzing.

The warming of the weather does, however, bring with it a couple of possible drawbacks.

Noise Pollution

Let’s remember that in most areas of our ‘hood, residential units are located directly above, across the street, around the corner, or down the alley from our favorite haunts. While I’m not advocating everyone use “their inside voice” while dining or happy-houring al fresco, you may want to check-in on your volume, especially if the gathering you’re attending has consumed its fair share of un-inhibiting libations(!).

Your neighbors near and far will thank you for keeping the conversation limited to your table, rather than proclaiming it across the entire outdoor patio, or making it echo across the intersection.

Lights and Music

If you’re one of those lucky folks who can entertain in your own outdoor space, more power to you! Please think about your neighbors and their possible desire to have a quiet evening at home, or their need to tuck in because of an early morning conference call or departure on a business trip the next day.

So, especially if you’re entertaining or sitting outside enjoying a mild, breezy weeknight, consider taking your dinner guests indoors and turning the music and lights out or down, once the quiet hours for your building kick in. You’ll be raking in a ton of gratitude and that, especially among neighbors, always comes in handy.

All that said, I am just as jazzed as you about the longer evenings, warmer temps and the chance to sit outdoors without having to wear three to four layers of clothing in order to make it more than 10 minutes. Here’s wishing all of us many enjoyable hours in this lovely springtime and early summer weather.

Catch you on a patio or deck somewhere!

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by Borderstan.com April 17, 2012 at 8:00 am 1,390 2 Comments

"Borderstan""Subway""Orange Line"

Seats taken, some by Seat Hogs. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Mary El Pearce. Follow her on Twitter@CupcakesDC and email her at maryelp[At]borderstan.com.

It’s the little things in life that make me happy — flowers blooming, my dog greeting me at the front door when I get home from work, running into the Metro station to find I have one minute until my train arrives. It’s also the little things in life that make me rage with anger — left-side escalator standers, tourists who hold open Metro doors so all 15 of them can get in and perhaps the most serious offense, Seat Hogs.

The Seat Hog takes up two seats during rush hour or events that cause Metro trains to be crowded. This is super inconsiderate not just because people like to sit down, but it also encourages people to crowd doorways — which prevents others from getting on the Metro, which can cause people to have to wait for another train.

Examples of Seat Hoggery

Spreading your legs so no one can squeeze in next to you. You’re not in your office, you’re on public transportation. It’s not supposed to be comfortable. If you need that much room then you should just stand.

Falling asleep across two seats. I’ve fallen asleep on the Metro many times. You really only need one seat, by the window, where you can lean your head and others can utilize the seat next to you with ease.

Using one seat for your bag. You know how in airplanes you have to put your bag on the floor? Consider it the same for the Metro.

Sitting in the outer seat. Common courtesy calls for you to scoot to the inner seat if it’s available. There’s not enough room for someone to climb over you, and most people who sit in the outer seat avert eye contact with those who want to sit down. But I’m getting off at the next stop and I don’t want to make someone else get out so I can get out, you may think, assuming you’re being polite. You’re not being polite. Stand up if your stop is next and you don’t want to sit in the inner seat.

You should know that in any of these cases I will hover over you and stare you down until you acknowledge me.

If you don’t acknowledge me I will say, “May I sit down?” (Seat Hogs always look surprised, as if they have no idea they are occupying two seats. In reality, they’ve been quietly avoiding eye contact so they don’t have to move.)

Only once has this method threatened to be hazardous to my safety (that woman was having a bad day, but how was I supposed to know?), so the odds of successfully claiming the second seat from a Seat Hog have proved to be in my favor. I encourage you to claim your sitting rights as well.

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Related Posts

by Borderstan.com April 3, 2012 at 2:00 pm 1,004 0

"Borderstan" "People" "Street""14th Street"

Strangers are just friends I haven’t met. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Candida Mannozzi. You can reach her at candida[AT]borderstan.com.

Borderstan, since a few of my recent posts were a bit more critical of some of the behaviors I’ve observed in our ‘hood, I wanted to share this anecdote with you. I was recently all the way (!) out in West Falls Church, on my way to a conference at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), waiting to catch a connecting bus from the Metro station to get to the USGS.

Now, I am one of those lucky few who “commutes” to work on foot for less than 10 minutes, so I have no daily need for Metro, buses, cars or other means of transportation, be they public or private. This means I am one of those dinosaurs who does not own a SmartCard.

So here I was, a little before 8 a.m. at West Falls Church and I realized I did not have exact change for the connecting bus fare. In fact, I was one dollar short and had the typical $20 yuppie-stamp in my wallet. Of course, there was no vending machine, deli, coffee shop or anything similar available for me to break my $20. I walked up to the bus stop and asked the only lady standing there whether she could possibly break my bill. She didn’t have enough to do that, but she offered me a single instead. She just gave it to me.

I was so grateful and also very embarrassed at not having prepared for this commute properly, being forced to ask a complete stranger for money! It reminded me of the many times I’ve passed people on the street, panhandling for change and not getting very far.  And here I, on my first request, got the help I needed and a pleasant exchange in the bargain.  Our ensuing chat, as we waited for the bus, revealed that we’d both grown up in the same mountain range in the Alps, just on different sides of it: she in Austria, I in Italy.

My one “consolation” for being unprepared was to remember that I’ve done my share of good turns to total strangers (one of these developed into a friendship with a painter from Barcelona, whom I helped as she was trying to negotiate the ticket machines in the Dupont Circle Metro station). So perhaps my turn had come to be assisted, as I had done for others in the past.

All moralizing or conjecture aside, Borderstan, I wish all of us occasions in which to receive the kindness of strangers. May we also get some opportunities to practice that kindness on others. Happy Spring!

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by Borderstan.com March 27, 2012 at 2:30 pm 1,221 3 Comments

"Borderstan""Cherry Blossoms"

Tourists along the Tidal Basin (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Mike Kohn. Have an urban etiquette right that needs to be wronged? Find Mike on Twitter at@mike_kohn or send him an email at mike[AT]borderstan.com.

Given that Friday was the only beautiful day of the weekend, I thought I would take advantage and partake in my token annual visit to the Cherry Blossoms.

Unfortunately for me, I was not alone in that thinking. Everyone and their mother decided to drop by, so what should normally have been a casual walk around the Tidal Basin turned into a somewhat maddening journey that involved me weaving in and out of what I can only assume were several groups of tourists and fighting to make it across bridges in a speed that actually exceeded that of molasses.

I considered afterwards all of the things that I probably should have paid closer attention to, all of which apply to the Borderstan hood:

  • Everyone takes photos. I did actually think about this and managed to stop myself short, but I had to apologize for being in a couple people’s memories when I was walking too fast to notice.
  • There are WAY too many people traveling with pets and babies. I accidentally cut off a stroller. I did feel badly because the mother was clearly in distress mode, but I was distressing about feeling trapped behind her.
  • Many of these people have never seen these things (or been to the District for that matter) before. While this was my 7th visit to the festival, it still has that inaugural excitement to it for a lot of tourists, so naturally, they want to stop and admire, rather than powering through. I felt even more aggressive than I usually do in a city where things are generally more fast-paced.

Ah, things to remember for next year…

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by Borderstan.com March 13, 2012 at 10:00 am 1,134 0

"Borderstan"

Avoid sharing your sweat. (Photo by christaki from the  Borderstan flickr pool)

From Mike Kohn. Have an urban etiquette right that needs to be wronged? Find Mike on Twitter at @mike_kohn or send him an email at mike[AT]borderstan.com.

Featured image from christaki in the  Borderstan flickr pool.

Thanks to my sister, who is an avid yoga fan, I finally got on the bandwagon and started my own practice last summer. The athletic nature of it combined with the idea of locating your inner balance was incredibly appealing and got me instantly hooked.

Besides the practice itself, part of the reason I kept coming back for more was that the people at my studio, The Studio DC on Connecticut Avenue at R Street NW, had that sense of warmth and friendliness that made you want to come back — everyone seemed to know the etiquette of yoga already and they were more than happy to educate newbies like me who had no idea what they were doing. Their sense of etiquette was impressive even to me (and, admittedly, I’m a little high maintenance when it comes to etiquette, in case you haven’t noticed).

Since starting my yoga voyage, I’ve been to a couple of different studios and it’s not always the case that people have the sense of common courtesy that you just expect. I’ve seen people take up more than the necessary amount of space, like the jerk who takes up two parking spaces so no one can park in front or behind them, and it’s common to see people leave equipment scattered about. Come on folks, get it together.

So whether you’re a yogi or lifting or running at the gym, here’s some food for thought:

  • Make room. If you want a private gym, invite a trainer to your house. But otherwise, don’t leave your stuff strewn about, particularly if you’re at the gym or the studio or wherever you work out at high traffic times, like post-work or weekend afternoons. Moreover, don’t you dare give me a nasty look when I ask you to move your yoga mat six inches to the right so I can have my own space.
  • Clean up. Have you ever gotten on an elliptical and found it to be wet with sweat? If you have, you know just how disgusting that is. Yes, it’s a gym and I’m going to sweat myself, but I’d prefer to have a clean machine to start with for sanitation purposes. Every gym I’ve ever been to has a spray bottle with paper towels for you to give a quick wipe down, so be a pal and use what they’re offering.
  • Put your toys away. When I go to yoga, I always grab a block and a blanket that they offer. If I go to the gym, a lot of the times they’ll have a towel for me to use while I’m there. No matter what, I put away the stuff I borrowed. Do we need a Kindergarten lesson refresher?
  • Why are you there again? I remember my days at GW watching rows of runners who looked flawless in their tight fitting clothes (of both genders) and makeup (that one is mostly at the ladies, sorry). Are you taking up my machine because you want people to notice you?

Anyone else have any horror stories when it comes to your workout routine?

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by Borderstan.com March 5, 2012 at 10:00 am 1,939 3 Comments

From Mary Burgan. She normally reviews movies as the Borderstan Movie Fan, but sometimes veers into the area of urban etiquette. You can email her at mary[AT]borderstan.com.

cigarette, butts, sidewalk, environment, urban etiquette

There are numerous reasons to stop tossing your  butts on the sidewalk. (M. Rhoades)

Far fewer people smoke today than they did several decades ago. I believe that in the 1960s, about half of all Americans were smokers,

However, cigarette butts have not disappeared from our sidewalks — and some guests at your home parties are still going to want to smoke, somewhere.

But it is the butts on the sidewalk that are the real danger — to the environment, not to mention the risk of smoking for the individual. That is why there are more reasons than mere etiquette for smokers to stop putting out their cigarettes on the sidewalk.

Cigarette butts are an environmental hazard. They comprise almost a quarter of all litter in any year. And when they are flipped on the street, they get washed from the sidewalk to the sewer and then to local streams and then to the general water supply.

Cigarette filters are not biodegradable; they are made from cellulose acetate, a kind of plastic. As they disintegrate, slowly, in water, they can release toxic chemicals including nicotine, benzene and cadmium.

According to one study at San Diego State, one butt has enough poisons to kill half the minnows in a liter of water — a standard laboratory test for toxins — in 96 hours. Beach communities, like surfer groups in San Diego, are most likely to emphasize cigarette butt disposal.

In the meantime, they may be ingested by fish or other animals – even children.

So what to do about cigarette butts?

One solution: The city should attach fire-proof attachments to public trash cans. The fact is that public ashtrays are few and far between on the streets these days.

The first thing, of course, is to be aware of the problem. But smokers, already feeling under attack for smoking, may resist when scolded about keeping their butts to themselves.

As a former smoker, I speak from experience. And very few of us are going to challenge a friend or stranger, for putting a cigarette out on the sidewalk.

The Place for Cigarette Butts

urban, etiquette, smoking, parties, guests

Throwing a party at home? If possible, provide an outdoor space for smokers instead of making them go to the street. (M. Rhoades)

The first step is to put receptacles in the right places:

  • Homeowners should provide ashtrays for outside events, especially when a big party is coming up.
  • Restaurants should install outdoor cigarette receptacles as permanent features of their sidewalk cafes.
  • Multi-unit residences such as apartment complexes should have outdoor receptacles at their entrances.
  • The city should attach fire-proof attachments to public trash cans. The fact is that public ashtrays are few and far between on the streets these days.
  • Meanwhile, anyone can stub out a cigarette — making sure it’s no longer a fire hazard — and put it in some waste receptacle nearby.

And then … there are such things as personal ashtrays, though few people know about them. Google “personal (or pocket) ashtray” to see a display of possibilities; you can order online. One version actually looks like a human butt!

Most of us are not aware of the ecological damage caused by cigarette butts. Now that you know about it, though, it is time to stop flipping your butts on the street.

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