Category Archives: etiquette

The Smiling Face Experiment

by Jake McMillan

You might like to know the results of a social experiment I conducted using my flatmates … without their knowledge. 

It will not surprise you to discover that this experiment was not carried out using the highest levels of scientific standards. Even the hypothesis being tested is also somewhat questionable, but hey, sometimes fun is more important than science. 

Okay, so here’s what happened … someone told me that if you put up a photo of a happy smiling face, it makes people more honest and considerate (e.g. at work, if you put a smiling photo near the office kettle, the amount of money in the honesty pot for tea & coffee goes up). Apparently there are studies to support this, but I have not found anything online to back this up (if you know anything about whether there is any truth in this or not, please let me know). Anyway, I thought this might “the solution” to the dishwasher issues with my flatmates.

Regulars of this blog will already be aware of the difficulties I have had with my flatmates who seem to not know how to use a dishwasher and think it is full of little cleaning pixies who will sort out whatever you put in, no matter how you put it in. I’m not some sort of dishwashing Nazi, but think it is nice to have clean plates, mugs and cutlery. I even wrote an email from the dishwasher (called Glen), pleading with them to help him do a better job. Yeah, yeah, whatever, you must know by now I’m slightly odd.

Anyway, I thought maybe the use of the smiling face might help in the dishwashing department. Perhaps it would make my flatmates more conscientious in using it? So I put up the photo below:

It was quite funny as when I put the photo up I suddenly realised that I had not thought of a reasonable excuse as to why I had put it up? I couldn’t say the truth as it would void the results of the experiment. The first night it was up, none of the other flatmates (there are 3 of them, two girls and a Neil) noticed. Then, the next morning … I heard whispering, one of them had spotted it, they then told the other and then the other. I was ready to answer questions, but no one said anything to me about it?!

Week 1
I initially thought there was a small improvement in dishwasher usage, but three or four days later we are back to the normal usage and the dishwasher is completely overloaded to the extent that the spinning jets can’t spin round and stuff inside cannot possibly be cleaned. Result: no change/unsuccessful

Perhaps it was the photo I chose? So, for Week 2 I put up a different photo to see if that might have a different impact?

Week 2
The photo did seem to have a different effect. It seemed to make the situation worse! With even poorer use of the dishwasher and big build up of dirty pans and plates above it, the kitchen was a bit of a mess.

Still no one asked me  about the photos?!

Week 3
I took down the photo and things seemed to improve back to the way they were.

Possible experiment conclusions:

  • Smiling photos have no effect
  • My flatmates prefer brunette smiling photos compared to blonde ones
  • Black and white photos are not as effective as colour ones (the colour catridge ran out in my printer)
  • My flatmates are conscientious users of the dishwasher, they are just incompetent
  • I’m a bit odd and my flatmates are clearly used to this

Stop Using Your Phone At The Cinema!

by Jake McMillan

Just stop it will you! There is no need. Stop being a dick. Please stop checking your phone whilst watching a film at the cinema.

Thankfully, gone are the days when some people actually answered a phone call during a movie. However, there are still lots of people who feel the need to regularly check their phone during the film for text messages, emails, Facebook updates, etc.  If you are one of these people, please just stop it.

You’re not at home, you are in dark room with lots of other people who have paid to watch a cinematic spectacle in the dark. When you check your phone, everyone to the side  of you and behind you DOES see it and IS distracted by it. Why should our enjoyment of a film be tainted just because Bob, someone who you don’t even know that well, sent you a SongPop request.

The point of going to the cinema to watch a film rather than watching a DVD or Blu-Ray is that you are paying for the privilege of watching it in silence in the dark on the big screen surrounded by others who also want to do the same. We pay over the odds to do this so that we can enjoy the film without the distractions and annoyances of daily life. No knocks at the door, no interruptions,  no pets jumping on you wanting to be fed, no phone calls, no anything … just you watching a film.

If you can’t handle spending two hours doing this, then don’t go into the fucking cinema in the first place. Expecting to hear your wife is about to go into labour? Rent a DVD or watch one online.

There is no need to check your phone in the cinema as we all know your life really isn’t that important and interesting that it can’t wait 90mins before dealing with. When you check your phone, the rest of us can all see it and we all then realise you are a total bellend.

So, cinema goers, pretty please … with sugar on top. Stop with your fucking phone.

Advice for Single Ladies

by Jake McMillan

Are you a single lady? If so, you might like reading some advice for single ladies produced, I think, in the 1950s in the US. Advice such as:

DON’T DRINK TOO MUCH, as a man expects you to keep your dignity all evening. Drinking may make some girls seem clever, but most get silly.

Read more of these on the Bounce Off website.

Related Posts:
Bad Things to Say on a First Date
A New Low in Ridiculous Things to Say on a Date
10 Things NOT to do on a First Date
Getting the Girl to Pay for Dinner

Whatever happened to Pip Pickles?

(Dealing with inconsiderate potential flatmates)

I’ve recently had to look for a new flatmate and it is such a royal pain in the arse. What has struck me this time is the utter lack of courtesy and consideration of people.

People like Pip Pickles.

I was very much looking forward to meeting Pip Pickles and thought it would be very cool to have a flatmate whose name sounded like she was the girlfriend of a superhero. However, I never got to meet Miss Pickles.

Pip, like many others who had responded to our advert, had written a nice email and seemed to be very much the nice reliable and fun flatmate we were looking for.

We agreed an appointment for her to come and visit in a few evenings’ time. The day before she was due, we sent her a nice reminder email saying we were looking forward to meeting her at the allotted time and to email/text if she was unable to make it.

Did Pip Pickles respond? Nope. Nothing. Nada. It was very annoying as if we’d known she wasn’t coming we could have got someone else to come along or even made other plans.

Pathetically poor Pip Pickles properly pissed people in my pad off, particularly. Can you say that 3 times in a row real fast?

Pip was not the only one to be discourteous in this way, I must stress, before her marvel comic sweetness is completely ruined. On one evening we had 6 confirmed appointments and only one person showed up!

Some just didn’t get in touch at all or others texted 15mins after they were due to say something had come up but said nothing about wanting to reschedule?

If you make an appointment with someone then it is basic common courtesy to let them know as soon as possible (beforehand!) you are unable to make it. No contact at all is just plain disrespectful.

So, it is probably good I didn’t meet Pip Pickles as I wouldn’t want to live with someone who was like that. However, I wouldn’t have minded meeting her superhero boyfriend. Not in a gay way, it would just be cool to meet a superhero in a social setting.

Had a haircut?

Regular readers of this blog will know I am not a big fan of getting my haircut. It is not just the actual process of going to the hairdressers that I hate, but the inevitable inane, annoying and downright dumb comments that people say when they notice your hair looks different.

The reason I find this annoying is that the person usually spots your hair and rather than just waiting a second to process what they’ve seen, they blurt out something stupid or redundant. People will say things such as:

“You’ve had a haircut” – this is, in fact, a statement but is said in a way that the person saying it wants you to respond. When you answer a simple “Yes”, they then seem to struggle with what to say next?

Sometimes people just say “Haircut?” as if this is an acceptable question?

If people just took that second longer to think about what they have seen before speaking, they could come up with a more socially proficient comment such as “I like your hair/Your hair is looking good, have you had it cut recently?”, “Have you changed your hairstyle?”

To combat these comments, I use some of the following responses to prevent me from wanting to harm the person who spoke them.

Statement My Response
(to be said dryly with a hint of derision)
“Had a haircut?” “Yes, many times in my life”.
“Have a haircut?” “No thanks, I’ve just had one”
“You’ve had a haircut” “You’re wearing clothes” [then when they look confused], “Oh, I am sorry; I thought we were just making obvious statements about each other?”
“Haircut?” “I actually prefer people to call me Jake rather than Herr Kutt … as that is not my name and I’m not German”
“I like your hair” “Thanks, I grew it myself”

Do you know the unwritten rules of modern communication?

With the proliferation of communication mechanisms in the last 20 years you will have noticed and conformed to as well broken the unwritten etiquette of modern communication.

For example, if someone communicates to you using a certain form of communication, e.g. Email, then you are expected to respond using the same form of communication or something higher up on the hierarchy.

The communication hierarchy is as follows:

Do people still write letters?!

If you respond with a lower form of communication, e.g. one person calls and leaves a voicemail and the other emails back, then the first person might feel snubbed, but it will depend, of course, on the nature/content of the message.

However, the communication hierarchy has an almost inverse correlation to the unwritten social convention of how quickly you are meant to respond to the various forms of communication without seeming rude.

The following table outlines the amount of time with which you are meant to respond to a general ‘how are you doing?’ contact:

Type of Contact Acceptable Response Time
SMS/Text Message Within 24hrs
Missed Call (with Voicemail) Within 2 days
Missed Call (No Voicemail) Within 6 days
Email Within 5 days
Letter Within a month
IM Message No response actually required

These response times can be considerably reduced depending on who is communicating to you and the nature of the communication, for example, if it is your partner, your boss or your mum!

Normally we instinctively know these rules but we all occasionally get them wrong, or some have different views of what the rules are, and then we end up offending someone.

Some people prefer to use certain forms of communication, e.g. my mate Alex always calls and practically never texts, where another Kim always texts and never calls.

We all know people who are particularly poor at responding to any sort of messages. I have one friend like this, but they do it to everyone so some think this is okay. I don’t. I think not responding to a communication shows lack of consideration and respect.

It doesn’t matter how busy you are everyone can spare the few seconds it takes to email or text a friend ‘Hey, how’s it going? Super busy at the moment but will be in touch in a few weeks’.

We have all been offended by someone else’s poor communication, but do we have a right to be upset with them if the rules are unwritten?

Why do Couples get to have a Bed?

A friend pointed out the other day the great injustice that takes place when you go to a house party of a friend. I hadn’t really noticed before, but it is so true that couples have always ‘bagged’ one of the beds whereas single people get to sleep on the sofa or on the floor?!

This is a double whammy against singletons. Not only do they sleep alone again, but they have to sleep somewhere uncomfortable. Is it not a bit selfish of couples to take the beds? They get to sleep with someone every night of the year. Surely, for one night they can rough it somewhere and let the single people take the beds?

Come on couples, do the decent thing and be kind to your single friends, the world doesn’t revolve around you.


Jake McMillan