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SCRC Behind the Scenes


August 7th, 2013 by Nicole Dittrich

I’ve always considered myself to be a reasonably polite person. I say “Please” and “Thank you” and “You’re welcome,” I hold doors open for others, I pick up things for others when they’ve dropped them, &c. But then I came across a little gem of a booklet in our American Book Company Records:

Cover of Politeness: A Little Book Prepared for the Children taught by The Sisters of St. Joseph

Politeness: A Little Book Prepared for the Children taught by The Sisters of St. Joseph by Frank A. O’Brien, 1912

This book taught me a lot about all the things I’ve been doing wrong in terms of being properly polite. The first problem is that I’ve been picking up dropped things for people:

"When some one drops a handkerchief, it is better to call his attention to it, unless he be an elderly person, when you may pick it up and hand it to him" (page 6)

I’ve also made the mistake of addressing my friends–by any name, at any time, ever: 

"In public, avoid making gestures, loud talking, or call your friends by their names." (page 5)

"When in company never call others by their surnames or pet names." (page 14)

My professional behavior is hopeless:

"Whenever you receive or hand something to a superior, always make a slight bow." (page 6)

And of course, the whopper for somebody who works in a special collections department:

"Never read another's letters or manuscripts." (page 3)

So I am most certainly doomed to perpetual impoliteness. Sigh…well, at least I’m doing one thing right:

 "Always say 'Please' and 'Thank you.'" (page 9)

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One Response to “Impoliteness”

  1. Michele Says:

    Ha!! I love it. Apparently we are all doomed to rudeness since we spend our entire professional lives reading other people’s stuff. Oh well…

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