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How to work politely in public

Categories: Hacking Life, Making Time, The Juggle

1 comment

The other day, I was sitting in a corner of my local community center’s lounge, trying to finish writing an article on deadline while my daughter was in her gymnastics class.

A mom and her daughter came in a few minutes after I’d settled myself into my work. She must have a child in the same gymnastics class as my daughter, because they’re there at the same time I am every week. And, every week, the same thing happens: She starts talking loudly, either to her older daughter or on her cell phone, while moving furniture around to create a space in which her daughter can do her homework. If there are books on the small table in the lounge, she dumps them on the floor with an exaggerated sigh, and then (loudly) tells her older daughter to start her homework. She glares at the two or three other people in the room if we look up from our books or our laptops. She goes through her daughter’s folder, reading comments from the teacher out loud and announcing each grade on each test.

Which made me think: There should really be a set of rules posted somewhere, for people who have to work in public.

Oh, look! Here’s some:

1. Be quiet. Even if there is no one else in the lounge or coffee shop, that doesn’t mean you get to treat it like it’s your living room. Turn off the ringer on your cell phone, and remember that other people don’t care about the details of your phone call, your kid’s test scores, or your music preferences.

2. Don’t hog the resources. Charge up your laptop before you arrive, so that you don’t have to monopolize an outlet. Don’t spread out your stuff in order to claim as much space as possible. Don’t block a heating vent with your backpack. Don’t leave your coat hanging into the aisle. If you are charging up your phone/laptop/whatever, keep an eye on it and unplug it when it’s sufficiently charged.

3. Pay rent. If you’re taking up a spot in a coffee shop for hours, at least buy a cup of coffee or a snack every now and then. Think of it as a fee for the electricity, light, and space you’re using. And be sure to tip the wait staff or server generously; the longer you stay in your spot, the fewer customers he or she gets, and that can affect his or her take-home pay.

4. Leave the place cleaner than when you came. It doesn’t matter if that’s not your newspaper on the seat next to you; pick it up and put it in the recycling. If you’ve spilled tea or left crumbs of scone on the tabletop, give it a quick swipe with your napkin before you leave. Working in a food-free space, like a community center or a library? Put the table or chair back in place, and leave your spot ready for the next person.

What rules would you suggest for people working in public?

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One comment so far...

  • How about, try not to embarrass your child in public. Reading their grades and teacher comments out loud is just plain wrong, even if they are all strait A’s. It just makes the rest of us feel bad for you child.

    nicki  |  February 11th, 2012 at 4:24 pm