When I was young, my mom would purchase new Easter dresses, sometimes even hats, accompanied by patent leather shoes and white gloves for my sisters and me. She admonished us to never wear jewelry over our gloves (tacky) and to always remove them before dinner was served. (Very Tacky.) Mostly obedient, my Mickey Mouse watch stayed home during Easter festivities.
This holiday, there’s no need for new Easter outfits, and hand sanitizer and protective latex gloves have become more valuable than golden eggs.
Medical professionals wear protective gloves to prevent the spread of germs to themselves or their patients. We mere mortals have begun wearing gloves to the grocery store, pushing the cart, squeezing tomatoes, scrolling on our phones, assuming our gloves are protecting us against coronavirus germs. With them on, we dig through our purse or wallet to find cash or credit cards. When we get into the car, gloves are discarded into the grocery basket or tossed in the parking lot. What poor manners!
Whatever we touch with our glove is transferred in the same way it would be if we touched it with our bare hands. Our gloves have become a type of second skin for us.
According to the Center for Disease Control, wearing gloves improperly may create a false sense of safety that offers us and others little or no protection. Ironically, gloves can make things worse.
Coronavirus comes in through our face – our eyes, our mouth, our nose. If you are more comfortable wearing gloves, think about what you touch when wearing them and carefully pull them on and off.
Here’s the PROPER way the CDC is asking us to pull off latex gloves:
- Grasp the outside of one glove at the wrist. Do not touch your bare skin.
- Peel the glove away from your body, pulling it inside out.
- Hold the glove you just removed in your gloved hand.
- Peel off the second glove by putting your fingers inside the glove at the top of your wrist.
- Turn the second glove inside out while pulling it away from your body, leaving the first glove inside the second.
- Dispose of the gloves safely. (Please don’t leave them in the grocery basket or parking lot.) Do not reuse contaminated gloves.
- Clean your hands immediately after removing gloves.
With our without gloves, if you pick up a product in the grocery store, please don’t put it back. Buy it, carry it home, and wash it before putting it away.
Be mindful about placing your groceries in the trunk of your car instead of on the seat. Sanitize your car door handle, trunk latch, keys, groceries and anything else you’ve touched. Make a quick beeline to the bathroom as soon as you get home to wash your hands FOR AT LEAST 20 SECONDS. Make sure to scrub those fingernails while you’re at it.
Be nice, be clean, and if you choose gloves, behave properly in them.
Ms. Corporate Manners
Fear around coronavirus can bring out the worst in people, but it also inspires AMAZING random acts of kindness.
Every day we witness innovation in how people thank frontline healthcare workers and help their neighbors in quarantine feel less alone.
Countless organizations and individuals are sewing or donating masks and other supplies. Grocery stores are setting up seniors-only hours. Local restaurants and liquor stores have turned into delivery services, and newspapers are publishing paid content for free.
A group of activists around town are setting alarms on their smart phones to remind them to join a prayer chain from 8:00 to 8:02 p.m. every evening, reminiscent of Winston Churchill’s Silent Minute of Prayer during World War II.
All amazing stuff. People are singing from windows and porches, applauding healthcare workers, creating signs of appreciation and hope, placing teddy bears in yards for children, sending handwritten notes and food deliveries to the elderly and discovering wonderful ways to lift others and themselves up.
But while sitting safely in our own homes with more spare time than we’ve ever experienced, reading endless news stories, scrolling social media posts, do some of us feel an accompanying sense of guilt? We tear up as we watch acts of kindness on television. With our mortality staring us down and an itty bitty virus lying in wait, we yearn to be our best selves.
But some acts of kindness can be dangerous. Here are some examples:
- After college-aged kids arrive home from being exposed to who-knows-what, their mom offers to bring them over to visit.
- A new business owner is frightened about loosing her investment. But when a friend offers to purchase something from her store, she generously offers to give it away instead.
- A hard worker attempts to clean her client’s house. She has a new grandchild, and he’s in the high-risk category. He would have paid her regardless of whether she did the work or not but he doesn’t know how to say that.
- Two young friends offer to purchase groceries for an elderly woman (me,) and they both have underlying health conditions.
- Charities are overrun with people volunteering to come in and help feed, nurse, clean, do SOMETHING. But many of those volunteers are older and at risk themselves.
Good deeds restore our faith in humanity. Good etiquette means using common sense when you do so.
Be kind, but be smart too!
Ms. Corporate Manners
© Penny Aviotti and Ms.Corporate Manners 2003 – 2020.
From holding in that uncomfortable cough to avoiding hugs and handshakes, uncertain times lead to a range of uncertain behaviors. From a generational divide over social distancing to hoarding diapers and toilet paper, the world is upside down, and old rules of etiquette are in question.
It’s important to behave during a pandemic – remaining six feet apart, buying only what we need, thinking of others, calling home, staying put, banning outdoor shoes in the house, washing hands, washing hands, washing hands – and for goodness sake, not touching our faces or picking our noses.
Rules for shopping at the grocery store include buying only what we need without hoarding, refraining from touching products and that we have no intention of purchasing, and socially distancing in the aisles and at checkout lines.
And there’s the question of whether wearing gloves is good for your own protection but possibly bad for everyone else.
Some of us are lucky enough to be working from home. Does job insecurity bring out a competitive streak among coworkers? How do we prove our worth to bosses who can’t see us working? Do Zoom or Office Teams show who works the hardest and who is the smartest, or just showcase who is the most vocal? Can we set boundaries between work and home life while simultaneously home-schooling our children?
While a pandemic renders the handshake obsolete, washing our hands before dinner and not touching our faces during meals were rules that were included in Emily Post’s first book in 1922.
The cornerstone of etiquette also remains the same. It’s integrity. Speaking your truth with kindness and respect will never go out of style.
Stay safe and kind,
Ms. Not-So-Corporate Manners