We Teach People How To Treat Us (A story about etiquette)

I was at a cocktail party and a young woman walked up to me. “I really love your clothes” she said, touching my faded 35 year old silk blouse lightly.  “Tell me, how do you find your stuff?”


“Well” I said, trying hard to contain my embarrassment but noticing how my ego loved the compliment. “I guess I started to raid other people’s cupboards when…” I tried to continue.


But, the girl was lost inside her mobile phone. I paused for a second or 30 and looked at her properly. She had French acrylic-tipped nails and the screen of her iPhone was badly cracked.


She looked up at me and said “Yesss, yesss…” using a rolling hand gesture to urge me to continue to talk, while she continued to type on her phone and use her thumb to scroll through her Facebook feed.


Now look, I have a phone too. (It isn’t cracked but that’s beside the point.)

I have a phone.

I have Facebook.

I have friends.

They post things.

I like their posts.

There’s really no shortage of online action in my world.


But, I also understand that the biggest compliment we can give to someone in our midst, is to give them our full attention. It simply tells them that the people inside our phones are not more interesting than they are.




Before walking away from the girl, I had a moment of doubt. Yes, Doubt my old friend is always lingering around like that.  I thought to myself “Gosh, maybe she was sending an important email to her boss” and here I am acting all-insulted. So, I squinted past the cracks to see what she was doing and she was lazily scrolling through her Instagram feed, liking pictures of clothes, teeth and dogs.


Yes, I did walk away. And yes, I just kept walking.


Because look, although neither of us was “right”, the ball was in my court and I used that advantage  to apply an age-old tactic to make my move. I invoked the Serenity Prayer. 


Game over.


© A Heart Full of Stories, 2016


P.S.  Just in case you need a reminder, the Serenity Prayer goes:


The Art of War for Moms

My 3 year old locked himself inside a cubicle in the men’s bathroom. I can’t tell you how many times I said “do NOT lock that door” to him before he took the plunge and locked himself inside.


Why he was alone in the men’s room when he usually wees in the ladies’ one is a story for another day. One which includes “power struggle” as the predominant theme.


Actually, I think all he heard was “please lock the door to test your mother” when he committed the crime. And, I was adamant that he was going to “pay”.


Until I looked to my left and saw his 7 year old bodyguard with her arms folded, staring me down. They were united by a common enemy. Their army was looking strong.


I quickly tried to think back to The Art of War, to figure out my strategy while the men in blue overalls tried to knock the door down to rescue the felon. But, I drew a blank.


As soon as he was free, they both started crying like long reunited family on parole day. He was crying because he knew he had messed up. She was crying because she was overcome with stress about the situation.


I was just frustrated and exhausted. It was a crap day at Mama (Pty) Limited.


As I turned into the parking lot of their favourite restaurant, I saw my daughter in my rearview mirror “Ha Ha Ha! Shhhhh, she’s forgotten…” she laughed pointing forward towards my head. (I had threatened to go straight home after the fiasco but the lord knows that I needed the wine, so I played along and pretended I had forgotten my threat.)


That’s when I remembered The Art of War’s best quote “Appear weak when you are strong”. So, like a boss, I marched into the sushi spot and proceeded to use their pocket money to pay for the sushi (and wine).


Aluta continua, as they say.  All is indeed considered FAIR in love and in war.


© A Heart Full of Stories, 2016



P.S. Here are some more quotes from The Art of War by Sun Tzu.

Yes, I agree, many of them do apply to my little war too 🙂  Shhhh….

  • “Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him”
  • “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting”
  • “All warfare is based on deception”
  • “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity”
  • “The wise warrior avoids the battle”

Casting Call: Wicked Witch/Wizard

You know the funny thing about the people who behave the worst?
They’re the same ones who would like history to portray them as Mother Teresa. 
For me, your ACTIONS tell me your story.  You are what you DO, not what you pretend to you priest/Imam/grandmother that you do. 
My take is as follows:
  1. If you want the story to portray you in a better light, YOU need to behave better
  2. Fancying yourself the good guy/girl, but doing horrible shit means that you will be cast as the witch. Not Angel Gabriel or Gabriella. The witch!
That’s it, kids. School’s out.  You can thank me later.
© A Heart Full of Stories, 2016
(Disclaimer: I found the picture of this old lady smoking online. I do not know who she is but sure would love to.  Whilst I try and find her, I do hereby declare that all copyright and the utmost respect is hers and hers only)