[conspire] Housekeeping, again

Edward Cherlin echerlin at gmail.com
Thu Feb 28 00:42:06 PST 2008

On Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 6:00 PM, Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> wrote:
> I find, to my distress and dismay, that I occasionally have to call to
>  CABAL attendees' attention some basics of rudimentary courtesy inside
>  people's homes.  This is one such reminder.

Thanks, Rick.

> (In case newcomers might
>  not know, for quite a few years since CABAL lost its SOMA meeting space,
>  it has been meeting twice monthly in my suburban home in Menlo Park.)
>  The key point to grasp is that, when attending CABAL, you are a guest
>  inside a nice, well kept, hospitable family home.  It's my father and
>  mother's house, about which I care a great deal -- and also my own
>  current family's personal domain.  There is quality, highly valued,
>  one-of-a-kind furniture, wood and tile floors, irreplaceable Oriental
>  carpets, and so on.
>  It is not a public meeting house.  It is not your college dorm or
>  cafeteria.  To sum:
>  A nice home.  You: guest.  Me: host.
[cross-culteral analysis snipped]
>  1.  Over quite a few years, I've been rather appalled at most CABAL
>  attendees' manners in using my dishes and flatware but never cleaning
>  their own messes -- instead, dumping dirty dishes in my sink and on my
>  counters (or, worse, just leaving them sitting around at random) -- and
>  just watching blankly as I clean up after them.
>  A couple of you, notably Kai and Denise[1] finally noticed that this
>  pattern is absurd, and asked if I didn't think it an imposition on my
>  household.  Asked that question so bluntly, I had little choice but to
>  give an honest answer:  _Naturally_ it was, actually, pretty outrageous
>  for me, the host, to end up doing several dozen healthy computer geeks'
>  dishes year and and year out -- but what could I do?

I find that the general principle for handling clueless geeks is to
Tell Them. Ahead of time, on-site, and at the point where they are
about to misbehave. Cluelessness is apparently part of the neurology.
So I appreciate Being Told.

> If my guests
>  lacked the common courtesy to clean up their own messes, I couldn't
>  exactly bark at them that they were being slobs and they should be
>  ashamed of themselves:  That would be shooting myself in the foot as a
>  gracious host.  So, I just quietly _think_, about such people, "You're
>  behaving like jerks -- again", and cleaned up after them.
>  As an experiment, at the last two CABAL meetings, as I saw several of
>  the regulars dumping their dishes in the sink (directly in other
>  people's way), I politely spoke up, for a change:  "How about you
>  washing that?"  To you-all's credit, the four or five of you immediately
>  if belatedly did the right thing (for a change) -- though your
>  expressions suggested that being considerate and not being a burden to
>  your host might have been something of a new thought in your respective
>  universes.
>  2.  After seeing one of the regulars being appallingly stupid and
>  inconsiderate by putting a lacquered wooden salad bowl in my microwave
>  oven, and thereby ruining it (an error that boils off and blisters the
>  lacquer finish), I finally created the ONE AND ONLY warning sign in my
>  entire kitchen.  This sign is black ink on a white-background sticker,
>  smack-dab in people's faces on the microwave's black flat door:
>     No wooden bowls.
>  Last CABAL, a different regular put a different, not-yet-ruined wooden
>  salad bowl into the microwave, and was starting to shut the door when I
>  yanked his hand back, and directed his eyes to DIRECTLY IN FRONT, where
>  the sign was.  (He did not apologise.  Nor did the other guy, who _did_
>  ruin one of my salad bowls.)
>  3.  As many may recall from prior go-arounds on Moen-household manners,
>  I finally put my foot down a year ago and forbade people from eating
>  food, especially but not limited to crumbly food -- in my house[2] without
>  plates -- after seeing a whole room full of CABAListas wandering around
>  like barbarians dropping pizza toppings on my floors.

A sign would help a bit. Putting the rules on the CABAL

>  Phase One of that was walking around to any offender and handing him/her
>  a plate, with a very broad hint that the plate was NOT optional, and
>  that I wasn't handing them out just because I adored handing out plates.
>  When lightly wielding the cluebat didn't quite suffice, Phase Two
>  entailed _not only_ handing the offender a plate but also making clear
>  that the person's continued welcome relied on him/her using plates in
>  the future similar circumstances.
>  To my _utter_ astonishment, one CABAL attendee, who professes to have
>  attended college at some football-farm outfit in New Haven that my
>  college occasionallyencountered, expressed _indignation_ during such
>  a third-time admonition at the most recent CABAL.
>  That seems a bit slow on the uptake.  Given that the gentleman had two
>  ethical choices (comply with local standards of courtesy, or don't come),
>  he somehow saw fit to find a third non-ethical one (stay, comply badly,
>  and complain about it).  What _did_ they teach you in New Haven?
>  4.  I have said, time and again, that people's bags of gear must not be
>  dumped onto the tables we use for computer installs.  Instead, those
>  should go out of the way, e.g., on the back porch.  I keep seeing the
>  same longtime CABAL members doing it, over and over.  One of these
>  occasions, the offender then shoved his bag sideways across the table,
>  pushing off and breaking my irreplaceable 20-year-old WordPerfect coffee
>  mug.  The avoidance of such disasters having been, of course one of
>  several reasons for the rule that the attendee violated and thereby
>  destroyed my prized personal property.
>  In summary:  Act your goddamned age.  Act like you're a guest.  Act like
>  you'd appreciate being welcome as a return guest.
>  If these guidelines strike any of you as in any way unreasonable, please
>  do feel free to be elsewhere -- any time.
>  [1] Why is it always the women who have manners _first_?  Guys, kindly
>  stop letting down the XY team, OK?
>  [2] I.e., not outside or in the garage.
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Edward Cherlin
End Poverty at a Profit by teaching children business
"The best way to predict the future is to invent it."--Alan Kay

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