Monday, November 08, 2010

Working it and making it work

"There are times when I want to stop the world for a moment and ask certain people some probing questions, such as: All of these people are trying to get off the subway train. Why do you six people think you should enter before we leave?"

Introduction, Gunn's Golden Rules by Tim Gunn

It's the same question I ask myself whenever I use the elevator at our office buildingI don't understand the rush of those who bulldoze their way onto the lift when people are still trying to get off it. (What I do is bump them out of the way. That or I let them all enter and settle and just before the elevator door closes, I press it open and I make my way outside.) And don't get me started on those who wait for 5 minutes at the lobby, squeeze themselves among the crowd, even bumping off other persons to wait for the next lift, and lo!they get off on the second floor. (Our building's staircase is right next to the elevator.)


photo: www.simonandschuster.com/
You'd think this is pretty much common sense but apparently, it is not as Tim Gunn has an entire book's worth of other etiquette rules that needn't have been written about in the first place. (Too obvious.) Hence, the only persons I know who'd probably have a life-changing epiphany after reading this book are the barbarians who probably won't even give it a second glance in a bookstore.

I'm hard-pressed to cite new things I've learned from Golden Rules and I don't mean to say that I've my Emily Post manners down pat. (My perennial excuse is that it's better for me to stick to my own business. Sometimes it makes sense although I'm sure the Dalai Lama would think otherwise.) In any case, I guess etiquette can be best summed up in one of Tim's chapters about being a good guest, where he underscored one's "dangerous sense of entitlement."  And the more I think about it, the more it made sense! That Mai Mislang incident was an example; she thought she was entitled to speak her mind, particularly on matters pertaining to lack of taste, beauty and class. One time, I gave a Christmas present to a friend; I heard no thanks from him, or even the slightest mention of an acknowledgment. (And I'm sure he received it.) Perhaps, he knew it was only natural that he was bestowed the honor and felt no need to be grateful. And the elevator people who get off after one floor? They feel important enough to waste your time; the same goes for habitual latecomers.

Whenever I encounter people who break the rules, I attempt to relax myself and think, "Okay Jason, let this be your lesson in tolerance." However, in a country whose government has gotten by on its citizen's collective stupor, that lackadaisical approach to living ("Bahala na!"), I cannot make sense of my self-imposed, pseudo Eat, Pray, Love need to stretch my fuse. I'd have more fulfillment if I could break their skull! (Among many other things, this country is lucky I am not its President; our prisons would be way much more spacious as there'd be more people roaming the streets with no arms and legs.)

On a different note, I wish Tim Gunn had written an autobiography instead. I found it more interesting to read about his childhood, his early struggles with his sexuality, and his decision to be celibate. He also dished out on celebrities, peers, ex Project Runway contestants, and former employers who broke etiquette rules as examples for his book, a fact which I found ironic and slightly disconcerting for a man whom I've always found to have only good words to say on TV. I suppose it's his way of breaking a person's skull.


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