How To




In spite of what people say, this is NOT an engraving of me practicing my manners.

When I was in elementary school

Our teachers saw it as their mission

To civilize us since we were, some of us,

Uncivilized in spite of what you might

Have heard about the “good old days.”

We as students weren’t particularly good

All of the time. It was too much of a strain

And so we fell into wayward behavior.

To combat this, our teachers made sure

We took our hats off when we entered the school

(Boys only) and learned the order and style

Of introductions: younger to older, man to woman,

It was all so civilzed.

Also telephone etiquette:

Always identify yourself

At the beginning of calls.

When you answer,

Simply say Hello, or,

If you are ambitious,

State your name

After you say hello.

Use a pleasant voice

(The teachers called it

“the telephone voice).

Say only what you need to say

Unless it is a social call

And even then, don’t talk for hours.

Don’t let anyone interrupt you

While you are on the phone

Unless you excuse yourself

To see what the person wants,

And always say good-bye

When ending a call.

Saying “please” and “thank you”

Were absolutely mandatory,

As was excusing yourself

After a sneeze and saying

“God bless you” to the person

Who sneezed.

The boys thought we had it rough:

We were expected to rise when

Girls came into the room,

To hold doors for them,

And to walk on the curb side

So we would be the one

Who was splashed should

A car drive through a puddle

Right by us.

We learned to write friendly

And business letters,

Observing all the conventions

And niceties,

And I won’t go on any more

(Remembering telephone rule

Number three)

Except to say that,

For most of us,

The lessons took,

And we are

All of us (aren’t we?)



Dan Verner

April 20, 2017





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