We've Got Issues
Emily Post was basically the original Gossip Girl, attending fashionable, ritzy balls on Fifth Avenue and flirting with other popular debutantes until she married one. Her life was a fabulous whirl of elegant soirées, trips to Paris and summers at Martha's Vineyard. Post never attended college (and certainly not community college) and therefore could never understand the unpleasantries of the day-to-day life of a Santa Monica College student. While her many rules of etiquette span over a variety of topics, from how to host dinner parties to which fork to use during the salad course, she rarely addresses anything the class of 2009 might find useful.
This modern world is fast-paced but it is not too fast to practice decency. Post never gave any advice on proper bus-riding etiquette or how to handle awkward run-ins with ex-classmates, however, many of her social behavioral concepts can be applied to familiar SMC circumstances. Here are a few examples:
Chivalry in the Hallways
While some feminists may disagree, men should always open doors for ladies, regardless if that lady is your mother or just some random girl walking in the LS Building that you will never see again. Opening the door for someone is a small act of kindness but it says a great deal about what kind of man you are. And ladies? Make sure to say "thank you!"
Similar to seeing a movie, riding the bus is a shared experience with a group of strangers. Just as you wouldn't cut the ticket line or yell during poignant scenes, don't push and shove to get onto the bus first and don't loudly, unabashedly detail your weekend's sexcapades to your BFF. If you'd like, you can talk about your "rapid seven" AFTER you get off the Rapid 7. Also, offer your seat to the elderly, the handicapped and even the just really tired-looking. Have your change or SMC ID card ready while boarding. Don't glare or ogle strangers. And please, thank your driving as you exit! Taxi drivers get tips and the luxury of top 40s radio while all Big Blue Bus drivers get is a lot of nasty attitude.
The library computers are for doing homework, not social networking. If there are people waiting to use the computers, log-off Facebook. Besides, there are hundreds of real people walking around campus, just waiting for your friend request.
Saying Hello to Acquaintances
This is a tricky one. It is weird seeing people from your high school. You didn't say "hi" to each other in tenth grade, why start now? But at the same time, avoiding eye contact and shuffling forward is both alienating and a little rude. I suggest the half-smile, one that implies friendliness but is not so inviting that your acquaintance feels obligated to come talk to you. As The Corsair touched on last issue, SMC pride is low and no one really wants to be seen here.
Refraining from the F-word
Just %^&*ing stop it! Cussing is not only vulgar and offensive but also unbecoming. We take English classes and learn all sorts of lovely, descriptive words and at $26 a unit, why not put that knowledge to use? Furthermore, since profanity has worked its way into the SMC vernacular, many of the words have lost their meaning. If you take "bad words" literally, you'll find that many of your adverbs and adjectives are actually vile, scatological nouns.
Proper Cigarette Disposal
Smokers have it tough. Cigarettes are cancerous, dangerous to others and smell icky, which makes smokers a pretty unlikeable crowd. However, unlike smoking heroin, smoking a cigarette can be a very neat and tidy task, which may or may not be why smokers are more popular than junkies. Regardless, cleanliness is bound to improve smokers' public image. Once you're done smoking, put your cigarette out (on the ground, not on a wall) and throw it away in one of the many trash cans or ashtrays available around campus.
In the words of Dizzee Rascal, fix up, look sharp! Spongebob Squarepants pajama bottoms are adorable, really, they are. However, they are meant for cuddling, not studying. SMC is not particularly fashion centric but that doesn't mean you are getting away with bedroom wear. Bedroom wear also extends to lingerie, which is equally if not more inappropriate than PJs. This isn't Club SMC. Save the sexy for a night out, not Tuesday morning.
It wouldn't take too much effort to make SMC a nicer place. A simple nod of acknowledgement and a thank-you every now and then and Santa Monica would practically be Pleasantville. Although Post would never have understood what it's like to navigate your way to class through throngs on disgruntled students or witness four-inch cleavage before 10 AM, her general etiquette philosophy is very relevant.
"Manners are a sensitive awareness of feelings of others," she said. "If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use."
Even Emily Post, whose name is practically synonymous with etiquette, agrees that being polite isn't a matter of specifics but rather a general sentiment. A little civility goes a long way. Smile and say thank-you, and if that is too much, then simply be considerate of those around you. Keep it classy, SMC.