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:


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