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Author Topic: Extremely random etiquette question  (Read 736 times)

empirestate

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Extremely random etiquette question
« on: December 29, 2018, 06:10:39 PM »

Is there any accepted piece of etiquette that says, when sitting at the bar in a pub (only place I can think of with this configuration, but I suppose it could also apply to a bus or train, etc.), that itís impolite to sit with your back to the person next to you?


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J N Winkler

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Re: Extremely random etiquette question
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2018, 06:18:48 PM »

Is there any accepted piece of etiquette that says, when sitting at the bar in a pub (only place I can think of with this configuration, but I suppose it could also apply to a bus or train, etc.), that itís impolite to sit with your back to the person next to you?

I would say not.  It is difficult not to show your back to a person on one side if you are turned to talk to someone sitting on the other side.  And there are people (I count myself one of them) who read while sitting at the bar.  But the bulk of my experience as a barfly falls into either of two scenarios:  the bar is at a restaurant and I am sitting there for quick service and to avoid the wait for a table, or I am having a quick drink while I wait for a takeaway order to be prepared.  I'd think that in a bar whose primary purpose is facilitation of social encounters, e.g. a singles bar, making oneself unavailable for conversation would be more likely to be seen as a snub.
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abefroman329

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Re: Extremely random etiquette question
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2018, 06:20:10 PM »

Is there any accepted piece of etiquette that says, when sitting at the bar in a pub (only place I can think of with this configuration, but I suppose it could also apply to a bus or train, etc.), that itís impolite to sit with your back to the person next to you?


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Itís not impolite to sit with your back to someone you donít know, no.
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empirestate

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Re: Extremely random etiquette question
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2018, 06:21:59 PM »

Well, you may be right that itís not, but I wouldnít expect difficulty to be the reason. There are a number of things prescribed by etiquette that require a modicum of effort. ;-)


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kphoger

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Re: Extremely random etiquette question
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2018, 06:42:44 PM »

In my estimation, it depends on the context.  If the person sits down, and then you purposefully turn your back on him or her, then that might be construed as discourteous.
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Re: Extremely random etiquette question
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2018, 11:21:33 PM »

It depends on how drunk you are.
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abefroman329

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Re: Extremely random etiquette question
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2018, 09:10:36 AM »

It depends on how drunk you are.
In that case, itís best to turn your back on someone, because facing them while you puke is extremely rude.
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J N Winkler

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Re: Extremely random etiquette question
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2018, 11:25:30 AM »

Actually getting drunk in a bar--let alone vomiting drunk--is extremely rude.
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jeffandnicole

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Re: Extremely random etiquette question
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2018, 11:38:42 AM »

Actually getting drunk in a bar--let alone vomiting drunk--is extremely rude.

So...quite a number of people are rude then!
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J N Winkler

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Re: Extremely random etiquette question
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2018, 12:04:47 PM »

So...quite a number of people are rude then!

Indeed they are.  At the societal level it is extremely costly to have a dysfunctional culture of alcohol consumption.
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wanderer2575

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Re: Extremely random etiquette question
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2018, 01:05:12 PM »

So...quite a number of people are rude then!

Indeed they are.  At the societal level it is extremely costly to have a dysfunctional culture of alcohol consumption.

"Drinking should be done in the privacy of oneís home -- where itís necessary."
-- Det. Sgt. Philip K. Fish (Abe Vigoda), Barney Miller
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empirestate

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Re: Extremely random etiquette question
« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2019, 10:58:59 AM »

Is there any accepted piece of etiquette that says, when sitting at the bar in a pub (only place I can think of with this configuration, but I suppose it could also apply to a bus or train, etc.), that itís impolite to sit with your back to the person next to you?
Itís not impolite to sit with your back to someone you donít know, no.

Is that your personal feeling about it, or is that the conventional thought on the subject (or at least the absence of any conventional thought to the contrary)?

I wonder if it's something else, then? Maybe just a violation of personal spaceóI only seem to notice it when it's the seat immediately next to me; three seats down and I wouldn't give it a second thought. It may also depend on the vastness of the specific back; I've had some fairly expansive dudes sit next to me, and it does really tend to block off that whole side of the room.

Perhaps it's just something as simple as failure to consider the effect of one's actions on others, and this is just one of the ways it's manifested.
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abefroman329

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Re: Extremely random etiquette question
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2019, 01:11:38 PM »

Is that your personal feeling about it, or is that the conventional thought on the subject (or at least the absence of any conventional thought to the contrary)?
Closer to the former than the latter, but I guess I'm envisioning a packed bar, where I might have my back to a stranger because I'm talking to my friends who are to the left or right of me, and/or a total stranger has their back to me because they're talking to their friends who are to the left or right of them.  Neither would be rude for me.
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J N Winkler

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Re: Extremely random etiquette question
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2019, 02:45:07 PM »

I wonder if it's something else, then? Maybe just a violation of personal spaceóI only seem to notice it when it's the seat immediately next to me; three seats down and I wouldn't give it a second thought. It may also depend on the vastness of the specific back; I've had some fairly expansive dudes sit next to me, and it does really tend to block off that whole side of the room.

The thing about personal space is that one's demands have to be calibrated to social expectation.  I would not expect to receive the same linear footage at a bar in New York that I do in Wichita or even in a much larger US city whose geography is not as constrained, simply because the unit cost of floor surface area is much higher.  People go to bars with some expectation of being able to maintain easy eye contact with a person sitting next to them in the context of a private conversation, turning in a rotating barstool as needed to accomplish this, and it is not really reasonable to expect them to look straight ahead and talk out of the sides of their mouths just to avoid blocking your view of the room.

In any case, encroachment on your personal space may not really be avoidable given the bar owner's decision as to how many stools to put in front of the bar, which inevitably is commercially motivated, and in areas with high floor costs can reflect a determination to push the envelope in terms of the physical proximity to total strangers that customers are prepared to accept.
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abefroman329

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Re: Extremely random etiquette question
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2019, 02:51:52 PM »

The thing about personal space is that one's demands have to be calibrated to social expectation.
It also has to be calibrated to the density of the bar.  There's always a maximum number of bar patrons according to local fire codes, but that may still mean others are standing closer to you than you want them to.
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empirestate

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Re: Extremely random etiquette question
« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2019, 04:18:25 PM »

Is that your personal feeling about it, or is that the conventional thought on the subject (or at least the absence of any conventional thought to the contrary)?
Closer to the former than the latter, but I guess I'm envisioning a packed bar, where I might have my back to a stranger because I'm talking to my friends who are to the left or right of me, and/or a total stranger has their back to me because they're talking to their friends who are to the left or right of them.  Neither would be rude for me.

And that's the thingóI wouldn't think it rude, either, if I were the person doing it. It's only by being on the other side of it that you even notice that it's objectionable, and that's why I wondered if it had actually been codified in etiquette somewhere, since you'd have no way of imaging the effect as you're doing it.

The thing about personal space is that one's demands have to be calibrated to social expectation.  I would not expect to receive the same linear footage at a bar in New York that I do in Wichita or even in a much larger US city whose geography is not as constrained, simply because the unit cost of floor surface area is much higher.

I wouldn't either (although I wouldn't go so far as to consider square footage cost; simply that it's crowded). However, in this case it's definitely something besides linear footage: the same person at the same distance, but facing forward, would not feel as rude. And it doesn't depend on the room being packed; it would happen just with your typical spacing of bar stools.

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People go to bars with some expectation of being able to maintain easy eye contact with a person sitting next to them in the context of a private conversation, turning in a rotating barstool as needed to accomplish this, and it is not really reasonable to expect them to look straight ahead and talk out of the sides of their mouths just to avoid blocking your view of the room.

And that goes to what I say above: I agree that the action itself is not at all rude; it just happens to have an inconsiderate effect. Do we have any social duty to consider the effects of our actions, even when the actions aren't themselves rude?

And one other thing I've so far neglected to ask: have any of you ever even noticed this effect? Or do you not even give it the slightest thought?
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J N Winkler

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Re: Extremely random etiquette question
« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2019, 05:34:10 PM »

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People go to bars with some expectation of being able to maintain easy eye contact with a person sitting next to them in the context of a private conversation, turning in a rotating barstool as needed to accomplish this, and it is not really reasonable to expect them to look straight ahead and talk out of the sides of their mouths just to avoid blocking your view of the room.

And that goes to what I say above: I agree that the action itself is not at all rude; it just happens to have an inconsiderate effect. Do we have any social duty to consider the effects of our actions, even when the actions aren't themselves rude?

Whether there is a general duty is a philosophical question that I suspect has ramifications we haven't yet considered in this thread, such as a possible distinction between actual and prospective constraint.  For example, if you stand on one side of a corridor and talk with someone standing on the other side--thus forming a gauntlet--I think many people (perhaps not most people) would agree that this is rude when there is foot traffic already in the passage, because it inconveniences anyone who has to walk past you.  But what about people who see you before they step into the hall, realize that they would have to get past you to get from point A to point B, and choose a completely different route?  Does it matter if the alternate route is of equal length?

And one other thing I've so far neglected to ask: have any of you ever even noticed this effect? Or do you not even give it the slightest thought?

I have noticed it not in bars, but when driving.  E.g., I find it really annoying to be stopped at a light behind a high-sided vehicle, even one as small as a CUV.  If it's a car in front, I can see the light as it changes; if it's a CUV or bigger, I can't.  But what can I reasonably expect the driver in front to do?  Would it be fair of me to take away his or her right to choose a large vehicle?

Another example:  unlike the vast majority of Wichitans, who nose into parking spaces, I back into them.  The other day an older woman was backing out of a space two stalls down from my target space, at exactly the same time I backed through 90į into the space (centering the car perfectly) at a fairly fast clip.  There was an empty space between her vehicle and me, so we both had plenty of room to maneuver.  But when I put the gearshift in Park and shut off my engine, I saw her car was still in the middle of backing out, because my abrupt movement had apparently terrified her into thinking I was going to run into her.  Did I do something wrong?  I would argue not.  Could I have done something differently to avoid disturbance to another?  Arguably yes.  Should I have?  I don't know; what I do know is that I would be very reluctant to give up the convenience and safety benefits of reversing into parking spaces.
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webny99

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Re: Extremely random etiquette question
« Reply #17 on: January 05, 2019, 11:50:08 AM »

Whether there is a general duty is a philosophical question that I suspect has ramifications we haven't yet considered in this thread, such as a possible distinction between actual and prospective constraint.  For example, if you stand on one side of a corridor and talk with someone standing on the other side--thus forming a gauntlet--I think many people (perhaps not most people) would agree that this is rude when there is foot traffic already in the passage, because it inconveniences anyone who has to walk past you.  But what about people who see you before they step into the hall, realize that they would have to get past you to get from point A to point B, and choose a completely different route?  Does it matter if the alternate route is of equal length?

I don't think the action of starting a conversation with someone on the far side of a hall is rude in itself, but once there are others approaching, the party(s) should move to one side to accommodate them, and it would be rude not to, in the sense that forcing foot traffic between you during an active conversation is likely to make them uncomfortable.

I consider myself fairly reserved in social situations; I would certainly consider alternate routes to avoid traversing through the midst of a crowd, group, or conversation. Are the participants in said activities at fault for causing me to go out of my way? I don't like to think so. I had a choice, and chose the path of least resistance, which happened to involve a different route altogether. I wouldn't like them to feel obligated to move; really all I care about is getting places efficiently and causing minimal disruption.

Same goes for the road: it is not an outright rude action  to pass another car at a low speed differential. It is, however, rude and disruptive to be unprepared to ultimately change your speed to allow other traffic to pass. If you are traveling with another vehicle on a four-lane freeway and ride along next to one another for several miles; I have no objections provided there is no other traffic. Once another car approaches, one car or the other needs to move right. Freeways are not like hallways, in that on a freeway one cannot expect passerby to simply seek alternate routes.

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Another example:  unlike the vast majority of Wichitans, who nose into parking spaces, I back into them.  The other day an older woman was backing out of a space two stalls down from my target space, at exactly the same time I backed through 90į into the space (centering the car perfectly) at a fairly fast clip.  There was an empty space between her vehicle and me, so we both had plenty of room to maneuver.  But when I put the gearshift in Park and shut off my engine, I saw her car was still in the middle of backing out, because my abrupt movement had apparently terrified her into thinking I was going to run into her.  Did I do something wrong?  I would argue not.  Could I have done something differently to avoid disturbance to another?  Arguably yes.  Should I have?  I don't know; what I do know is that I would be very reluctant to give up the convenience and safety benefits of reversing into parking spaces.

If I understand correctly, your nose would have (or could have) briefly interfered with her potential pathway. Perhaps if she was somehow made aware of your intention, she wouldn't have been so surprised. Of course, effectively communicating what you were about to do is easier said than done.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2019, 12:29:51 PM by webny99 »
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J N Winkler

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Re: Extremely random etiquette question
« Reply #18 on: January 05, 2019, 12:56:50 PM »

I don't think the action of starting a conversation with someone on the far side of a hall is rude in itself, but once there are others approaching, the party(s) should move to one side to accommodate them, and it would be rude not to, in the sense that forcing foot traffic between you during an active conversation is likely to make them uncomfortable.

I have wondered if the place where one spent one's childhood makes a difference.  I find Midwesterners are often oblivious to the idea that this situation could present a problem.  On the other hand, when I describe it to people who grew up on the East Coast, they know exactly what I am talking about.

Quote
Another example:  unlike the vast majority of Wichitans, who nose into parking spaces, I back into them.  The other day an older woman was backing out of a space two stalls down from my target space, at exactly the same time I backed through 90į into the space (centering the car perfectly) at a fairly fast clip.  There was an empty space between her vehicle and me, so we both had plenty of room to maneuver.  But when I put the gearshift in Park and shut off my engine, I saw her car was still in the middle of backing out, because my abrupt movement had apparently terrified her into thinking I was going to run into her.  Did I do something wrong?  I would argue not.  Could I have done something differently to avoid disturbance to another?  Arguably yes.  Should I have?  I don't know; what I do know is that I would be very reluctant to give up the convenience and safety benefits of reversing into parking spaces.

If I understand correctly, your nose would have (or could have) briefly interfered with her potential pathway. Perhaps if she was somehow made aware of your intention, she wouldn't have been so surprised. Of course, effectively communicating what you were about to do is easier said than done.

There was no conflict since there was the empty space in between.  However, she wouldn't necessarily have known I was not backing into that space; if I had been, she would have had to turn her steering wheel later to avoid body contact.

My method of backing up is designed to minimize tire scrub and is pretty unusual among people locally who reverse into parking spaces.  They tend to cock the car at an angle across from the target space, and back into it through a shallow angle.  My method is to drive past so that my rear bumper is at least one stall width away from the target space (I leave more space if the wheelbase is longer), start with the steering wheel pointed straight ahead, signal in the direction I am backing into, and back through a 90į angle so that the car is centered in the space and the steering wheel is returned to the straight-ahead position.
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Beltway

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Re: Extremely random etiquette question
« Reply #19 on: January 05, 2019, 01:11:34 PM »

Actually getting drunk in a bar--let alone vomiting drunk--is extremely rude.

What if you can't help it?
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webny99

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Re: Extremely random etiquette question
« Reply #20 on: January 05, 2019, 08:19:20 PM »

Actually getting drunk in a bar--let alone vomiting drunk--is extremely rude.
What if you can't help it?

There is certainly a point at which you can help it, and if you pass that point, your problem!
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Re: Extremely random etiquette question
« Reply #21 on: January 05, 2019, 08:30:48 PM »

Actually getting drunk in a bar--let alone vomiting drunk--is extremely rude.
What if you can't help it?
There is certainly a point at which you can help it, and if you pass that point, your problem!

Do you think that a drunkenspew could be grounds for a disorderly conduct charge?
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empirestate

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Re: Extremely random etiquette question
« Reply #22 on: January 06, 2019, 07:36:11 AM »

Whether there is a general duty is a philosophical question that I suspect has ramifications we haven't yet considered in this thread, such as a possible distinction between actual and prospective constraint.  For example, if you stand on one side of a corridor and talk with someone standing on the other side--thus forming a gauntlet--I think many people (perhaps not most people) would agree that this is rude when there is foot traffic already in the passage, because it inconveniences anyone who has to walk past you.  But what about people who see you before they step into the hall, realize that they would have to get past you to get from point A to point B, and choose a completely different route?  Does it matter if the alternate route is of equal length?

And the example I was thinking of is on a train: Someone is riding in a quiet car (but not the Quiet Car) and decides to take a nap. I and a friend get on at the next stop and sit down nearby, and we decide to chat. We speak in a normal conversational tone, but it's enough that it prevents the other passenger from falling asleep. My friend and I aren't doing anything the slightest bit wrong by having a conversation on a public train, yet it negatively affects another person who, likewise, isn't doing anything wrong. Everybody's in the right, but one person suffers the negative effect.

Quote
I have noticed it not in bars, but when driving.  E.g., I find it really annoying to be stopped at a light behind a high-sided vehicle, even one as small as a CUV.  If it's a car in front, I can see the light as it changes; if it's a CUV or bigger, I can't.  But what can I reasonably expect the driver in front to do?  Would it be fair of me to take away his or her right to choose a large vehicle?

And in my example, should my friend and I have taken notice of the passenger near us trying to sleep, and of the fact that no other passengers were talking? And if so, should we have decided not to converse, or to move to another train car where a number of passengers were already doing so? We have no duty to keep a train car quiet, but do we have a duty to avoid waking someone who's sleeping?
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Re: Extremely random etiquette question
« Reply #23 on: January 06, 2019, 01:04:42 PM »

Do you think that a drunkenspew could be grounds for a disorderly conduct charge?
Actually, it is.

(been there, done that ... what's next?)

 :cheers:
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Re: Extremely random etiquette question
« Reply #24 on: January 06, 2019, 05:40:14 PM »

I don't think the action of starting a conversation with someone on the far side of a hall is rude in itself, but once there are others approaching, the party(s) should move to one side to accommodate them, and it would be rude not to, in the sense that forcing foot traffic between you during an active conversation is likely to make them uncomfortable.
I have wondered if the place where one spent one's childhood makes a difference.  I find Midwesterners are often oblivious to the idea that this situation could present a problem.  On the other hand, when I describe it to people who grew up on the East Coast, they know exactly what I am talking about.

Interesting!

I have one parent who grew up here in Rochester and one who grew up in the Upper Midwest, and I suspect there is at least some truth to that. On the East Coast, "Mind your own business and don't talk to strangers" seems to be the rule of thumb. This, in addition to the fast(er) paced lifestyle means people are unlikely to have any use, or any time, for unnecessary conversing with strangers. It is not that people are nervous of social interaction, but rather that if such interaction is occurring in a corridor, it is either (a) too important to wait, and should not be hindered by passerby, or (b) unimportant, and thus should be occuring elsewhere!

In the Midwest, on the other hand, the slow(er) paced lifestyle and small-town culture means people feel much more obligated to stop and chat, and are also more likely to know one another (and any third parties!). In fact, it would be considered cold and unsocial (perhaps East Coast snobbery!  ;-)) to pass another without at least an acknowledgement and a spoken word or two. In essence, efficiency and accomplishment are prioritized in the East while relationship-building is prioritized in the Midwest.

Poorly put, I know, but having spent plenty of time in both regions, I have encountered this situation in both I knew exactly what you meant (and certainly gravitate towards the former, being introverted and having grown up in New York!)
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