Hey there and welcome to the BigAppleSchool podcast – the weekly English show where we speak about everything under the sun. The major goal of this show is to help you improve your English, and, of course, learn something new. My name’s Katya. I’m your host, and today with me…
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We would really appreciate that. So and now it’s time for me to ask some questions. So and, Barbara, I haven’t seen you for a week, and Gary, I haven’t seen you for a long time. How have you been?
I mean, just look at me, right, you can see it’s been a hard 6 weeks or whatever. Gone through a lot! No, I’m fine, I’ve been good. Thanks.
What have you been up to?
Just doing the usual things. Just doing the usual things?
Do you enjoy the spring? The sunshine?
Oh my goodness, yes, definitely.
Finally. What about the clouds of dust everywhere.
That’s also kind of an Algerian feel, right, yes, little desert action.
You know, so that you don’t feel that you are in Siberia, you know. Gotta feel… You know, different experiences. Barbara, what about you?
Why would you ask what I’ve been doing? It’s only been a week.
A lot can happen within a week I should say.
I’ve been sitting in front of my computer, walks to and fro from the technicians, the experts, so that was my highlight of the week yeah. Living at computer’s.
You might have visited a theater and I wouldn’t know about that if I hadn’t asked.
Right. I’ve walked past many. And I said amused. I think I’ll go in there one day.
So, mind that you have about one month and a half left of the theater season, so in June they usually close for the holiday, for the summer, so…
Okay, I’ll keep that in mind. These longer daylight hours help it too.
Oh yes, oh yes. It’s so much easier to wake up now. Oh I love it.
I will even wake up at 7 and I’ll like snuggle in and go like oh remember when it was winter?
Horrible time, horrible time.
Yeah I remember what that was like. I think that was about a week ago. Yes, right. Give me a little more time and I won’t remember winter.
Well, you know, that was a little bit of a memory check – how good is your memory at this point? Do you remember winter?
Right, still vivid, still vivid.
I’ve been counting the snow piles, so from my perspective I see three little snow piles in the virus hospital across the street. And then…
The little virus hospital across the street. The quaint little virus hospital across the street.
Lovely surrounding you have!
With little flowers in the windows, smoke coming out of the tubes.
And then, you know, virus flying around.
That’s right, walking on the other side of the street. Carefully. Yeah, excuse me.
But still, a lot can happen within a week, you know. I mean since we last saw each other I, what have I done? I have been to my mother’s dacha, so worked a lot. Really. Found out that hares can eat trees. And that is something I did not know, but apparently they do.
As in rabbits. How do you say it?
Bunnies are domesticated. How do you call the wild ones?
Well the hares are the ones with bunny ears that go up. And the are the ones that go down. It was a hare, right?
I hadn’t seen it, I had seen the poop and the tooth marks on the trees. So I know it’s them, I do not know about the size. Yeah, I did not know they can chew on trees, but apparently they do, they chewed on our apple tree.
Yeah well they’ve got bunny teeth, have you seen their teeth?
No I don’t think I want to.
Do they have like shark teeth? A little bunny but then it opens its mouth and it’s like hundreds of teeth.
You only need two front teeth that are really strong, like beaver teeth, gopher teeth.
Yeah, so. Well I spent a weekend in the countryside, working. Preparing for the summer season and planting the radish.
So you’re actually planting things. That’s optimistic.
It’s the time that you do that.
It’s +20 degrees in a greenhouse.
Ah, okay, in a greenhouse.
Oh no, not outside, yeah. That we’re gonna do in about 2-3 weeks I think. So a lot of work ahead of me.
I admire people who can do that. I have no connection with getting my nails into the mud and dirt and I have no sense of hope when I plant that seed. I don’t know what’s gonna happen.
Barbara. We wanna help you here.
Okay, it goes down to my childhood…
When I got seeds and nothing would sprout and it would turn brown and I’d cry.
How do you call this plant that you can touch and it stings you and you can have a burn? I forgot the word for it.
It’s not a Venus fly trap, no?
No, no, because a Venus fly trap is like the one that kinda opens and catches the bugs. There is this type of… It’s not grass, it’s more of a plant that you touch and it stings you really badly. So and I remember my sister decided to plant violets, you know, cute flowers in a flower pot. And then this thing grew up.
You have to respect all forms of life. Even the ones that burn you. You just stay away from them, avoid it.
It grew instead of a violet! It’s very hard to respect that. You know.
There is a lot of emotion here. Let’s just…
Obviously it’s controversial, right.
I got a little bit carried away.
Forgive me. Alright. Well yeah, but that’s not what we’re here for, to discuss planting and everything, gardening. We are here to discuss etiquette and behavior norms. And I of course want to ask you what is etiquette? Cause you know, when you mention this, a lot of people would just think oh is it being polite and saying thank yous and please?
Yes, we’re trying to have a society here.
But is it limited to that?
Pay close attention – we’re trying to have a society here. Let’s get with the program.
Okay so you want us to dell further. The way of taking off the gloves, one finger at a time. That’s etiquette.
That’s an excellent example.
So how would you define etiquette then? Is it…
Well I think I have my own definition here.
Not very original. Well it’s a set of rules for social behavior, kind of, of many rules. And one way you can describe it it’s the oil, ready for this amazing imagery?
Oil that makes the machine of human interaction work smoother.
Isn’t it beautiful? Let’s just pause.
Well you know it sounds like Gary has been watching those 1950 government distributed videos.
To us Americans teaching us how to be a good family, have etiquette, table manners, how we speak to each other, right.
You have had such videos?
Oh the look on Gary’s face.
I beg your pardon. Barbara, I don’t know that I remember that. As a matter of fact.
Usually I’m in the presence of younger people.
What are you trying to say here? Wait a minute. I resemble that remark. Right. I represent that remark.
But I don’t know, yeah, I don’t even know that. I’ll give a story here.
This is actually a real story, this is from my past, my wild life. I didn’t watch any of those government videos. Obviously, unfortunately. But I had an aunt, she was actually my great aunt, my grandmother’s sister. We had a big family, they were second generation immigrants from Germany.
Grandma, their mother, did not speak English ever and so forth but spoke German. And anyway, this family, these are my grandmother’s family, they were, what can we say? Totally ordinary people. They would be not elite people at all, I don’t know what they were doing in Europe, but they would’ve been, I don’t know, farmers, probably maybe city people.
Anyway, so my generally that part of the family was very regular people. But I had one aunt, that generation, who for some reason somehow, and that would’ve been in the 20s, 1920s. She became a career woman.
No, this was fine, I mean, nobody was against this. I am amazed at it because I know the rest of the family. And you know, my uncles, her brothers were like navy guys, and real like navy guys. So they were, shall we say, rough around the edges, and some alcoholism there. And just a bunch of everything.
I think we’re related Gary.
We Americans really are tight. The way you’re describing your family and I used to live in Ohio. So it’s possible we are related.
Where did you live in Ohio?
My grandmother had a boarding house. Although this isn’t about etiquette, right. Sorry. Gary, go ahead.
Is Mansfield somewhere close to where you lived?
It’s not particularly close to where I lived. I lived and I had a church in Loudonville Ohio. You know Loudonville?
Loudonville and Mansfield, and it was a canoeing place.
I thought there was a prison there.
No. There is a prison in Mansfield though.
I mean with the trucks rolling by, prisoners looking out of it and I’m like four years old.
It’s a rough country, it’s… We’re all related.
And on the other side we had some cows.
Okay, and cows. Okay. Prison and a highway and some cows. It’s Ohio.
Is that what Ohio like in a couple of words? Okay.
Yeah. In a few words that’s a beautiful description. But anyway, so my aunt somehow out of this otherwise pretty ordinary family, she decided to become a career person. She was a flapper in the 20s. If you have to look that up what a flapper was. Just look it up. Flapper was a style.
Had French on the dresses, they were newly-liberated, it was a great time in America when there’s prosperity.
The roaring 20s, roaring 20s. And so she…
I don’t think she was a particularly roaring person, but she went and she worked for standard oil which is Rockefeller’s company. Which started in Cleveland.
And she lived… But what happened was she became a very polite and sort of cultured person. Which I can assure you nobody else in the whole scene was. This was the one unique thing. And she lived in Shaker Heights which sometimes people that aren’t even from Ohio have heard of Shaker Heights.
It’s a rich suburb. It was originally out of a few original planned suburbs of a city that was then pretty prosperous. And she had a very nice apartment and she was never married. But she worked for standard oil which means that that was a good job.
I don’t know what she did even. Some kind of office work obviously, but in any case, so she had a project on her hands. Both in the form of my dad and me who were being raised by wolves or the equivalent. Because the rest of the family was not very cultured.
Was that a successful project?
Well it’s been a long time since then, you know.
I would say that it was not successful and so I just had an example of what etiquette is. So my aunt, my greater aunt, her name was Anne with an E on the end, A-n-n-e.
Anne with an E, there is a tv show named like that.
And so she was trying to teach me how some polite ways… She was trying to teach me etiquette and I was the young barbarian, right.
What do you mean exactly? You don’t know me!
What you are narrating is.. runs parallel to really the history of where etiquette comes from. It was a matter of women training these barbaric men to know how to behave around us. Because we were sick of your smell, your stink, your stench. All your bad behavior. And we had to teach you. Just look up that etiquette history somewhere.
Alright. Wow Barbara. Right, yeah, I wasn’t expecting that amidst my honest heart-felt story about my childhood. But anyway, she tired to teach me all kinds of things like this. And I was a poor student, I was not a great student. Like for example, when she would write letters to me. Write, like, card or something to me, she would use a title.
I was a little boy, I was 8-9 years old. And she would title, Master Gary Lucas.
Yes, this I completely understand. Yes, yes, yes. My aunt as well.
Which nobody alive does anymore. I don’t think. But she did it. And so I was supposed to do that, and now I was supposed to… Anyway, so she was teaching me these fine words.
Those were our European roots to do that.
And you were expected to reply in the same manner then?
Yeah, and I was expected to reply for one thing, and, like, send thank you notes and stuff like that. Which is also etiquette, which if somebody gives you a gift, you’re supposed to write a thank you note and the address in a certain way. So it’s all those rules. Etiquette, in short.
So that reminds me that I had a wonderful aunt, aunt Emilia and I always called her Aunt Emilia and cousin Amy. And I contacted cousin Amy few years ago. And I sure enough called her up and said hi cousin Amy, this is Barbara, do you remember me? But the point is the title, this etiquette. And I tried to teach my daughter to call my sister aunt, and she wouldn’t do it.
I always did it. I mean I was a barbarian but… You know, but that much, sure.
So what if we talk about how behavior have changed then? So can you think of something that used to be the norm but now people don’t do that anymore? And in general how do you think people’s behavior has changed?
Well if we look at generation Z or even X, this notion of independence can go all the way to one side and say okay, I don’t want men… I’m strong enough to pull out the chair myself and I’m strong enough to open up a door. But it’s actually nice for a man to do it. And I come here to Russia and I expect it. And I get doors slammed on my face! Thank you very much sir!
Yeah! Thank you very much!
But I want to say – on my way over here this very morning a young lad from school, a school boy opened a gate for me, actually smiled at me and I went through the gate, I couldn’t believe it!
You should cherish these moments.
Oh I did. I smiled all the way to this building.
It was an amazing, once in a lifetime…
So the smile on top of this, like what’s that?
Really! I had my Siberian scowl on and then I looked up, our eyes met and I hear this nice charming smile, that’s why I broke into my American smile, спасибо!
Sure. Easy, Barbara. Right, yes. Right, yes. I had a student here at the BigAppleSchool who was sort of a little bit unusual but a very good student by the way. And she would walk across in the park she told this, you know, what’s going on?
Tell me something interesting or whatever and she said yeah, well, I was walking across the park the other day and I was just, you know, smiling or whatever and a woman came over to me and asked if I was on drugs.
I would laugh, you know, and not believe it if the same thing had not happened to me…
Are you on something? Yeah right. What are you on? Why are you smiling?
I had a situation when I was on a bus and I, you know, I was texting and in general I was in a good mood, so I was smiling. And then I looked up and there was a woman sitting, you know, opposite and I just smiled at her, smiled, you know, at everything.
She just looked at me and started shouting like what are you laughing at? Is there something wrong with me? What are you smiling about? I was like oh, oh, okay, okay.
Wow. I didn’t know things like that happened here.
It was… I as shocked at the moment.
I would be a little bit too. That was kinda…
Weird, a smiling person on a bus? In Russia? Like, where are you from?
That’s right, what’s the matter… What’s the matter with me? Cause that’s what she’s saying? You’re smiling, what’s the matter with me.
Yeah. She’s like is there something wrong?
With me? You’re okay, but what’s with me that you’re smiling?
I would be like definitely there’s something wrong given that you’ve just shouted at me for smiling.
Right, if it wasn’t wrong before, it sure is now. Yup. Right, that’s right.
That’s actually, you know… You’ve mentioned holding doors, so do you think this is thing of the past now or…?
I don’t know, is it? I don’t know. I don’t know.
Gary, I know that you’ll still hold doors open for me.
Barbara, look at that door. Let’s go, let’s go try. If it didn’t take us so far from the microphone, I would prove. The kind of polite, despite that whole story about my aunt and the young barbarian, I would definitely, in front of these witnesses. Right, yes. If that was a video podcast, we would put that on there, but we can’t.
We will make a special episode just for that.
Which will be 15 seconds of you holding the door.
But everyone being amazed at that.
I really hope that people will, you know, continue or some people will start holding doors, cause, you know, it’s okay if there’s a door, you know, like that. But our subway doors? They’re so heavy. I mean, one can easily break your nose if somebody doesn’t hold it. So every time somebody doesn’t do it, I have such an urge to just swear at them as loud as I can. But I’m polite so I don’t.
But there’s a sign on the subway metro thing that says hold that door.
There is. Hold that door. Right, yes, which people like the people coming in the exit doors and going out the entrance doors, that also is the…
I did that one time. I got the вход and the выход mixed up and so I was about to go into the…
But they’re different colors.
Oh really? I didn’t know that. I was just looking for the…
It’s green if you can go and red if you shouldn’t.
Well I didn’t know that, I’ll have to look that up.
Wow, Katya, these are the real fine points. We’re learning a lot here today.
You’re welcome for my wisdom.
And you don’t even charge us for that wisdom.
But there was a security guard there…
We’re learning all kinds of amazing things. Right, yes. Walk out of here enriched…
Sorry for interrupting Barbara, see, we are not as polite as you might think we are.
Well as… Before I was rudely interrupted I was telling a very short story.
Yeah who did that? Let’s find who that is…
sporting up story unlike some, I was trying to go into a door, I didn’t know which one to go into. I saw one door and I chose one door. I realized half-way through it was the wrong door. I shot a left glance to the security guard and he saw me break the rule. And I smiled at that.
Did he even react to that?
Yeah because it was against the rule. It specifically had two signs, I just couldn’t read them. They were in Russian you see.
Yeah that happens with a lot of signs. Too many signs here in Russian, that’s the problem.
You know when I was thinking about rules, you know, that are not used anymore maybe. I thought about the elbows on the table rule.
Oh definitively. Oh horrible!
Yes. Yes. Because it’s so impolite. It’s like a farmhand eating. A farmhand… Ohio, a farmhand in Ohio will put…
You come out from the cow pasture across Ohio for that big farm lunch with cow.
Which my granny prepared cause we lived on a…
Did you actually live in Mansfield?
In the city? In the city limits?
No, she had a boarding house in the countryside. And those farmhands would come to this long table and you better believe they kept their elbows off that table.
Wow. Well I’m afraid to imagine what would happen if they didn’t?
Right. A lot of guys lost their elbows.
They didn’t argue with granny. She had a temper.
I mean, I would understand that a far as I know the rule appeared when the tables were not stable, so if you actually put your elbow on it, it would kinda you know, shift and crash and everything would just fall off it. But what about it? What if you kinda want to lean towards a person, you know? So you’d still look down on a person who does that?
It really isn’t good form. It’s not good technique.
Write It down dear listeners. Rule number one – hold the doors. Rule number two – do not put your elbows on the table.
Okay, what about eating? Now, I don’t mean to be crass or anything, but I call it two different methods of eating. The European style which I here…
As a emanative of Mansfield of course you favor the French approach. Unlike us from Cleveland who were more of farmhands.
Well Germany is part of Europe so I’m including the Germans as well. And I’m a quarter German so I can talk anywhere I want about the Germans or French.
And I’m from Yakutia, so I just, you know, get my teeth into a piece of meat and like…
Okay. Now the other method is what we call the Catholic style. And there are a lot of Catholics in…
And this is where the Catholics, and I can say whatever I want about Catholics because I’m seventh generation catholic, like French catholic. It doesn’t matter.
It’s like I’m 3% this and 1.5% that, I have the right to say…
I am pure American, I am a mut, I have a mixture of all sorts of things.
So yeah, but what are the…
So European style is with both hands, one cutting and one stabbing with the fork and you’re eating like this, with only your forearms…
So technically you don’t even touch the table.
No, no, because of the podcast I was afraid to touch the table.
But I am now going to touch the table. You have your forearms, it’s called a forearm between your wrist and your elbow, it is on the… leaning on your table and you’ve got one dominant hand cutting and the other one is stabbing with the fork which you’re putting in. The Catholic style is with one hand on your lap and the other one is scooping it up.
I must confess, although I’m far form a Catholic.
You eat in Catholic style, don’t you?
I do Catholic style. And by the way everybody that I know, although there were no Catholics among them, the also eat that way.
I would say that nowadays there is a third style which is you eat with one hand and the other one has a phone in it scrolling Instagram.
Right, the international style. The digital style.
The digital style, yeah, I was about to say. So yeah, things are changing in how people eat.
What about women going into restaurants by themselves. It was considered, well, you must be some kind of a wild woman to come into a restaurant by yourself. But nowadays – don’t you go in and you sit there with your cup of coffee and you got your digital devices?
Easily. I mean I go to bars on my own just with a book.
Oh I’m so afraid to do that.
You take a book to a bar?
A bar book. Barbarian who reads a book in a bar. Yeah, I mean why not?
But it’s so dark! You must have very good, excellent eyesight.
No, I mean I usually sit at the bar itself, not at the table and usually there are light.
Under the food heat lamps. Extremely bright.
Who knows, maybe I have, you know… Who has excellent night sight? Bats? Owls? Owls!
Maybe that’s me, but I’m part owl.
I didn’t know that, now I feel freer.
I can go here and there, hither and hither.
Alright, we’re being liberated even as we speak. Chains are dropping off, we have nothing to…
Did you hear that sound? Do you hear that sound? This is the sound of chains dropping.
Exactly. That clatter, that metallic crude iron clatter is of chains.
Barbara, that’s for you, if you wanna do that here you just feel free, I’ll still open the door for you. At the earliest opportunity.
You know, speaking of you know, our behavior. We recently had a talk with a friend of mine about things that used to be, you know, the norm, that we would totally do but would now in the time of the pandemic would make us cringe.
Like, you know, shaking hands with the strangers, or, you know, when you are at some kind of a party or something, hugging strangers. So what else can you think of?
Well I’m semi-germophobic anyway, so pre-pandemic I really didn’t like getting that close to people and germs. I feel like I can actually see stuff in the air so put a pandemic on top of that.
So you would be like can we please keep the six feet distance you know, after the pandemic too?
Yeah, that’s so easy, yeah. Because yeah, let’s wear masks, whole face cover, whole body covering. Like a net.
Right, why not. Wear armor. They’ve got new metals now that would it make us quite feasible to wear light armor over an entire body. Let’s..
And then if somebody gets too close, you can kinda, you know…
Poke them with something.
No problem, cause they’ve got armor. You can poke people with your elbows.
So can you think of something else that used to be okay and the norm and polite maybe to do but now would feel weird? I could only think of like handshakes, maybe eating on public transport. Sometimes, you know, earlier I would see people eat something like, I do not know, some kind of a snack or even some kind of, you know, those little pies maybe if it’s in Russia.
And in the US people eating sandwiches on the train, on their way to work, on their way home, it was a norm. But now I cannot even imagine someone eating on public transport. Taking off your masks and actually eating.
No, I’m the other way around. I’m aghast when I see someone walking around and eating. Because back in the day we would just sit and eat. You were not supposed to walk around, so that comes from a generation even before. It was kinda coming around full circle now.
I mean I would still see a lot of people walking and eating, just because, you know of the fast pace of life maybe, you know, constantly running. Yeah, but on public transport – nuh-uh, this is not something I can imagine now.
I never liked particularly eating, especially not травмай. It’s just sort of, no…
It’s like, you know, you’re trying to get something into your mouth and the tram is shaking and you’re like I’ll try to have a bite.
And then there’s like, you know, food everywhere.
Pirozhok. In every direction.
Yeah oh my god, do you now these crabsticks that are kind of you know 8 in a pack. I was once in… Well not on a bus, but, you know, in a маршрутка. And there was a man sitting next to me, he was eating those crabsticks. And it was smelly.
And he was just sitting and I was like why would you do that in an enclosed space with no windows open, you know? Like, why? Do you hate people?
Yeah, that reminds me of your previous question – back in the day if you went to college in the 60s, I the 70s, you could smoke in class.
Smoke cigarettes in class, in a cafeteria, smoking. That was something that was done… In motor vehicles.
I had a professor who would roll, a female, a woman, who would roll cigarettes in class, while teaching. And of course smoke them.
Yes, yes. Even my ballet teacher would smoke in class and suck on his cigarettes, drawing the smoke up in his throat and exhaling at us dancers.
Yeah, so that was back in the day. So I could not imagine anyone smoking.
Yeah smoking has changed.
I did not even know that was ever possible.
You know what a smoky bar looks like? Maybe you don’t.
That I remember because they banned smoking in public places in 2013 maybe in Novosibirsk at least. But I remember coming a café or a restaurant and we were asked like would you prefer a smoking area or non-smoking area. But the thing is that non-smoking areas were usually on the second floor so the smoke would still go up so you would still feel it.
And yeah, and right now… Well at that time it seemed like something normal, yeah okay, people smoke in cafes and you kinda have to choose where to sit so that the smoke doesn’t, you know, come to your face. Now I think about it and I think how was that even possible? You were eating and somebody next to you was smoking?
Yeah how was that possible?
Yeah in class and in the cafeteria so it would be like a bar. Smoke filled.
I had a college friend, he was taking this philosophy class and part of It was like Merleau Ponty, was, you know, heavy duty philosophy, you know, phenomenology. And part of the atmosphere of the thing was everybody was smoking. And drinking beer.
And drinking beer. In class. Oh lovely, how lovely.
In class. That was part of the romance. I never went to the class. But I knew it was…
Can you imagine the, what is it? Prerequisites, like, having a pipe, knowing how to smoke a pipe, you know. Oh my goodness.
Yeah no pipes, cigarettes. It’s not a pipe thing. It was a cigarette thing, totally cigarettes. It was not a college thing…
How things have changed. I mean… I remember my dad told me that it used to be allowed to smoke on planes.
So and… I cannot even imagine. But campus? But class? On campus?
Well that was even the romance of it. That was the… I mean, three hour class
Can you imagine smoking for three hours?
Can you imagine what the ash trays looked like?
Oh man, that was part of the romance, part of the existentialism.
Yeah that is because it was such an achievement, a sense of achievement when you can fill up your ashtray, get really big ashtrays.
Look what I’ve accomplished!
Because you’re dealing with existentialism, you’re dealing with reality.
Okay. You’re like a part of the course is scotch, drinking scotch during the class.
Just beer, okay. But wow. Just wow! I think I’m happy that nowadays, you know, there is more of a trend maybe, so of not smoking. So and people sometimes would look down on you if you smoke. Like, come on? Really? Nowadays? You smoke? So that’s a good positive trend I would say, yeah. I’m so happy that we are not allowed to smoke in cafes and bars and places like that.
Yeah, it’s a big improvement.
Can you have… I wonder if smoking has ever been allowed in cinemas?
Oh of course yes, yes. Of course!
Really? So you look at the screen and the smoke is everywhere. And you’re like blowing the smoke away.
In 1980s definitely, after that I don’t know, but definitely.
Adding to your viewing pleasure. And I’m sure that they were wonderfully ventilated, theaters.
But do you remember Gary? Do you remember?
I stopped going to movies like 1981, so.
I became a Christian, so no more movie theatres. Seriously.
That is the most evil place I know. You gotta avoid.
Well I would… Just look at some other stuff or a lot of it. I’ll defend that decision.
I can’t imagine – the smoke.
Yeah, and it’s normal, normal.
So and do you think that etiquette norms are gender-defined? So what was the situation earlier and what is it now? So are there special norms and rules for men and for women? And what about now?
Well if we’re talking about smoking, way back when the thought of being liberated women could… were now lawfully allowed to smoke, it was against the law, so that’s in the 1920s with the flappers, with Gary’s flapper aunt. But the idea being liberated and what else?
I mean, there used to be a rule of not shaking… Not shaking a woman’s hand when you greet somebody. Do not, like…
Right. Well you are not to approach a woman if you’re a man, you’re not to approach a woman. Only through a friend, could you please give me an introduction.
Yeah this is definitely not the case now.
And eye contact too. Women should lower their eyes.
Yeah that’s definitely not the case anymore, definitely not. I mean even with the… I remember when I was at school we were told that usually, you know, when a man greets a woman, it’s not a hand shake maybe like a nod, something like that, but never a handshake. Unless a woman, you know…
Well, no, he would hold out his hand, palm up, and she would put her hand on his hand. Something like that.
But now, now it’s not the case. So now it’s a new norm to shake hand when you meet a person.
I don’t know when… I think that by in business anyway, by the 80s at least that women were shaking hands, it was like no…
Liberated, out in the office world.
They say that now appropriate way to greet a person would be a nod because we are in the idle of the pandemic and I read some articles about how to behave during a pandemic and it said if you want to greet a friend, do not hug, you know, do not kiss, but bump your elbows.
Elbow. I’ve never done an elbow bump, but I have done fist bumps.
No, that’s too close, that’s too intimate. You gotta get your clothes…
Use a sanitizer first and then…
So and what about the rules before and maybe now about… Who pays for a meal on a first date?
Did people use to go Dutch? Was the man supposed to pay? What was the situation?
Always the man paying. But then the women’s liberation said I’m making the money and I don’t want you paying for me. Or if the man pays for you, then you are expected to give up something in return. That was a big thing. So if a woman pays for her meal. I’m sorry, I’m just talking about…
Yeah, it’s safer for the woman to pay.
Yeah, may I pay for you? Nd you’re like I’d rather not. So.
Yeah I think that changed. It didn’t used to have that…
That connotation. I think that’s recent. Yeah I think so. It was… A man was to pay and the woman could, by the time that I was… It was an issue for me at all, it was… The woman could say oh let’s not or whatever, they could od like that. But there was no sense of… Man, I bought you dinner.
You know what I mean. Crass. But it’s a crass time.
I think in those things it’s particularly crass. Right? Or I don’t know.
It is crass. But if you became a Christian in the 1980… In 1981.
Barbara is doing math right now, calculating.
That means that you’ve removed yourself from certain sex of society and…
And still prevalent I do believe.
I think nowadays it all comes down to what you agree to do. Cause sometimes people can beforehand discuss it lie, let’s split dinner today, like, let’s go Dutch. Sometimes you know, if somebody pays you just say okay, thank you. But there is a rule right now, an unspoken rule that if somebody pays for you, you do not owe this person anything, it was their choice, so. Okay. Thank you.
The rule is now that I remember this is if you ask someone out, two women or two men, I mean just fiends, just friends, if you ask the person hey do you wanna go have lunch, it means you’re gonna pay for al lunch. That’s what it used to mean.
I think it’s different now. If you invite somebody, let’s say, to go together, then you pay separately.
Well it used to be too that you could not go to a restaurant and split the bill, do you remember? Gary?
Meaning just technically?
Yeah you cannot go to a restaurant and say the waitress comes and you say we want two separate checks.
We don’t do that. And so.
Now they do that no matter how many guests you have. You know, you can have a company of four, you can say…
But it’s a pain for the waiter. The wait person.
We’re still locked in that time.
Well, it might be easier sometimes… I mean they usually put everything into one check but then if you look at it, it says guest one, this-this and then they put the amount on this machine, you know, so you just tap your card and here you go. So since cash is not used that widely anymore, so you don’t… They don’t have to count everything, you know, bring back the change or whatever.
I think I’ve been in Novosibirsk too long. I don’t know these nuances. Are they doing this in Novosibirsk?
And then, you know, since people do not usually carry cash these days, you know, everything is digital, so if you can’t leave a tip in cash, you may say do you have digital tip? So you will scan a QR code and then transfer money for the restaurant so and by the end of the day they would split the tips among the staff.
Yeah, yeah. So you can always say can I have a QR code for the tips? So. Or sometimes it’s already on the check, so.
I didn’t either. I think we’re probably gonna talk about the way things were in 1981.
How about 1981? Now that was a year! Now that was… You wanna talk about etiquette? 1981! That was politeness. Oh dear, wow.
Well things have changed Gary, things have changed since that time.
I’m just very surprised, that’s all I can say. Yes.
So and do you know anything about behavior or something that is okay in one country but would be considered very offensive in another country?
Yeah, there is a giant massive number of those things.
Can you give an example of anything?
Well I don’t know. The things you read about, we’ve probably all saw a chapter in some textbook in like business etiquette in different countries. Things like, I don’t know, in the middle East or something you shouldn’t show the soles of your shoes. Right.
Right, yes. Because the soles of your shoes are dirty. And you wouldn’t ever touch anything with your left hand. It has to be your right hand.
Oh, I think it was the rule in African countries as well, about the left hand. In Nigeria.
It’s a Muslim thing actually.
Because, I don’t wanna say why.
Okay. You can look it up.
We know why, but if you don’t, dear listeners, just look it up. You’ll find the answer quite fast.
Yeah, it has something to do with cleanness. And that remind me of something else, but… Oh! Like the Chinese slurp. Don’t they slurp their soup?
Yes, yes, and in general eat, you know, with their mouths open, which is considered to be…
Yeah, considered to be that they’re enjoying their food, you know, look!
Right, I love this food! Just listen! Just listen to the sound of that.
And the smacking. No I don’t mind animals smacking, I think they’re cute. I’ll turn up the volume on this little cute animal video. But when a person smacks, oh, I go crazy, I go ballistic with that.
I can understand you. Well I mean look!
Can you close your mouth please?
Yeah I don’t like looking at people’s mouth. It’s something that kids do.
Now, again, now in the middle of the pandemic it’s also very unhygienic to do.
Yes, yes. So so much to more. Yeah. But no, I think I… by our norms anyway, eating with a big slurp, slurping sound is bad. And the open mouth and of course in some cultures you’re supposed to burp after the meal.
To show how… That’s a compliment to the chef.
Oh wow. I’ve never heard about that. Oh thank god it’s not the case in here.
So all we Americans know that, because we want to feel that…
Right, we’re citizens of the world, right. Yes. Yes, as was proved over and over again in the course of this conversation we are the citizens of the world, I just want you to see. That we show it by knowing about people burping in other countries.
And the reason why you can’t use your left hand, yeah.
That’s right, if it’s terrible we know all about it.
It’s because those movies in the 1950s failed. Total failure!
The ones that you thought, that you were sure… Because I don’t even know why you thought that I surely had seen those government movies.
You have but you just didn’t know it.
Bluffing. I don’t wanna remember.
You didn’t even know you were being taught anything.
That’s why I didn’t learn. Because I didn’t know I was being taught. If somebody had woken me up and said Gary, you’re being taught. I would go what? Man I’m gonna start paying attention. But nobody ever did that.
Wait, and what about Russia? Have you noticed anything surprising or shocking while you’ve been here about how people behave?
Oh no, I haven’t noticed anything.
Yeah don’t look at me Barbara. I haven‘t noticed anything.
This is not… We are in mixed company meaning we have some Russians in this room.
Oh you can talk ill about Russians all you want. I’ll just nod.
No, we’re not gonna do that.
No, we’re not gonna do that. No. Everything is very nice and very polite.
Literally half an hour ago you told us how somebody slammed the door into your face.
That’s right. I don’t remember that either.
Well that was the result of our memory check.
Right, yes. Another memory fail. If you check us every half an hour we fail, half hour after half hour on the half hour, we fail. Just erased, it’s gone.
So okay, so you have not noticed, okay.
Yeah we’re not gonna reveal anything at this moment.
Right, at this particular time.
At this particular time. At a later date perhaps.
After the podcast without microphone. Smart. Smart. Okay. Alright, and what about digital…
Right, we got rid of that question.
That won’t work, twice Gary! So but what about digital etiquette? So what do you know about digital etiquette?
Oh forget all those punctuations and those miscapitalizations and…
Now, Katya, I bet Katya is an expert.
No, but I mean when you said about punctuation… The thing is that when I send messages, I always use punctuation marks, all of them, including, you know, the colon, semicolon, dash, all of that. Always, always. And that’s why when I came to the US and started texting, it was a little bit confusing like is it a question?
Is it a statement? Like oh my god I don’t understand. Cause no punctuation marks at all. And that was really confusing. I literally had to ask a person is it a statement or a question?
Where was no punctuation? In the states?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Or sometimes you know, I would get a message with a question mark at the end, but that was clearly not a question. Just a statement. People would just put question marks at the end.
Meaning they’re wondering something.
And that was really confusing.
I had to ask some younger people what TY stood for. Thank you.
Yeah, well, that and a lot of abbreviations like BRB.
So when you’re chatting. IDK.
Well I had a huge aversion to this when I first got… Got my first cellphone that had texting. My daughter had already been texting for decades. But then when I got mine, I got like oh, this is such bad grammar, I can’t stand this. And then being an English teacher, now… What form of texting do I use to my students? Should I be a good model? Or should I show them how cool I am? Which one?
Barbara show them how cool you are.
The students will love it. She’s trying to show us how cool she is.
And now look at all these mistakes!
Oh mistakes and coolness? Oh horrible!
You know, I always wonder, people who write, let’s say, THX instead of thank you or just TY.
Oh I don’t like that X. I don’t like it.
Or SM instead of so much, so people who do that – what are you doing with all the free time you have because of this, you know? Because you don’t write thank you but THX? Like you must’ve had so much free time that you save.
Well I’ll say how I’ve learned how to do this and I’ve learned how to do this. I’ve just watched what my first, when I had to put emoji or start over punctuating, you know, with exclamation points. But then I understood…
Well I love exclamation points, I love those.
Okay, well, everybody has their favorite punctuation symbols. Like Katya mentioned semicolons, colons.
Yeah she knows how to use those.
That’ right. That’s real fluency there when you can throw a semicolon.
Or someone who’s very undecisive.
And you’re like Katya you use all those punctuation marks, like colons, semicolons, dash – just admit that, you use them in emojis!
Right, yes. Well, sure. But I just observed, I mean, I understood that it’s another language right, emojis, the whole thing with emojis and all the punctuation. It’s another language. And so you have to just learn how it works.
Okay, but I have a question though. So emojis may have made their way into our life, they’re everywhere, but now it’s kinda debatable whether people are allowed to use emojis in their work emails, cause I sometime get emails with emojis.
And I feel… I have mixed feelings about that. It’s a work email. We have professional relationship, so let’s say, it would be weird to get an email form an HR or something like that with an emoji.
So but sometimes people see no, you know, no boundaries maybe.
Well that depends… here at the BigAppleSchool, right, I think that emojis are okay. But if I were working for IBM, probably smiley faces and you know, shrugs, you know, monkeys covering their eyes would look….
It doesn’t probably work as well.
Well that depends on, yeah, what kind of formal/informal relationship you have with your colleagues.
Oh and what about thumbs vs stylus? I would watch people have their certain method or their form when they text. Some can do these thumbs really quickly. But I think I have too much lotion on my skin because my thumbs don’t work like that.
Oh definitely. And I must hold…
Or you’re the stylus person?
No, I’m definitely the thumb…
And you’re quick, I’m sure you’re quick. And I’m a lot slower. And I make mistakes and then I start swearing and then I have to go back. Yeah! I have to put on my glasses, to take my glasses off, where’s my stylus? Oh it’s horrible.
I think I’m one of those digital generation representatives.
Putting the digits in digital, yes.
What do you think? So when we talk about digital etiquette, there’s one thing that people just argue about, which is audio messages. So when somebody records a message, a voice message, so what do you think about those?
Well I’m impressed with them quite frankly.
Never? How happy you are!
I had not, my English, I had not, which means I have now. So I have a colleague here…
That’s a perfect tense for your keeping scores at home English students.
I thought I was pretty clear by saying I had not.
I missed it. Just the sound I think, I missed it. But I do appreciate your…
But I have a colleague here who I received my first one and I thought oh, what a nice listen! … your good ear?
Put your good ear. Put your glasses, to see it, then put your good ear to it.
How does this work? Oh I see a microphone icon. I wonder if I press it what will happen?
Oh Barbara, this is so exciting to just share the feeling.
But do you hold it down or do you release it? Now that was a big thing, I didn’t know. So let me try both ways. Who should I send my first one to? And will they receive this? Oh and I still haven’t learned how to delete anything that I’ve sent.
So I gotta make sure I send properly.
You should learn that, yeah, that’s useful.
Send that perfection, that’s the only way. Right, yes.
Gary what do you think about voice messages?
I don’t hear… I hardly get anything. I don’t know, I didn’t set my mailbox or whatever they call it. My… I don’t get them, I don’t send them. I don’t…. I assume that that’s not working in then states when you get an account, voice mail is a part of the thing. It’s just what you do and you use it. But here I don’t ever use it. I don’t know why that is.
Oh lucky you. So cause voice messages, when somebody records a message in different messengers, it’s so widespread right now. And honestly it’s very convenient for the sender, but it’s absolutely not convenient for the recipient.
Cause you have to take your own notes.
Well you have to, yeah, what if I’m walking? So I’ll have to take my earphones. And if I can’t listen right now? I’m somewhere, I don’t have my earphones, then the choice is either to, you know, have your phone next to your ear, which is, it looks ridiculous.
Or to wait until you come home. And there is now an unwritten rule that some people still ignore, which is – if you’re sending a message to a person you do not know or even a person you do know but you have not discussed, you know, the voice messages, then usually it’s polite to ask.
Do you mind if I send you a voice message? And then if a person says no, I’m sorry, I’m busy, can you make it text? Then you don’t send a voice message. And if a person says yeah, sure, then you do that. Or, if you have a prior agreement. So let’s say I have two friends and we have agreed that it’s okay if we send voice messages to each other.
So we don’t have to reply straight away. Sometimes it would take hours, so it’s like asynchronous. But that’s what we’ve agreed on. But all in all, when somebody, especially on Instagram for example, when somebody I do not know sends me a voice message, I usually send them, you know, this rule or, you know, a link to the post where it says you know, voice messages.
It’s always polite to ask a person first. And then we have two categories – of polite people and impolite people. Polite people would say oh, thank you for this, I didn’t know that. Well do you mind if I send you a voice message?
And the second category of people who says I don’t give a damn about that. It’s convenient for me so I’m gonna do that. And you’re like well guess who just got blocked.
Oh wow, you are really reeling your power.
Well cause it’s so… Well let’s say if I have a lesson, then I have a 5 minute break, I don’t have the time you know, to listen to this.
So people do this just because they don’t wanna take the time to write a text?
Right, yeah. If you use a stylus.
As so many Babylonians… Barbara’s doing the Babylonian approach to write. They’ve just exchanged the glass screen for the clay tablets that Barbara got used to in her youth. The Babylonian site of Mansfield.
But you’re right, people just do that because they don’t want to take the time to actually type the message. And well…
Well how can you really say anything against that when people…
Yeah, right. Yeah, Katya, how can you…?
I think she was saying something against that Barbara. How can she even do that?
Because it used to be that people used to actually ring you up in person? And call on you and come to your door?
Oh god, oh, horrible times! Oh my goodness, thank god they’re gone!
Guess who stopped by today? Oh Betty came by and we…
Oh thank god those days are gone, really.
If I have, you know, my intercom is ringing, I’m like I’m not expecting anyone.
Oh you know what my mom and I used to do? It was back in the 1970s. We used to dive behind our sofa if someone came to our door.
Yeah that sounds like that. I do that every time.
Is he gone? Are they gone? Who is it? I don’t know. One time Christmas carolers came to our door. What are you going to…?
What do we do? I think we’re supposed to give them a…
Pack your Christmas cheer and get outta here! We’re behind the sofa! Leave us alone! Go be merry, take your merriness, take it somewhere else!
But you know, speaking of these voice messages. You know, it’s very annoying when people send important information in them cause then if you need this information, then you’ll have to listen, probably have to listen that again and again, to make sure you got everything right.
Whereas if it’s text, you just open it, you see that. Why would you do that? So and I know some ridiculous cases when somebody needed, you know information for transferring some kind of a payment for the service. And people like oh you can transfer it to 11, you know, and then they gave like 25 digits.
Why? Who are you? Why would you do that?
That’s not nice, that’s very impolite. We’re trying to have a society here!
That’s more like bad business, because I mean…
I mean, who would do that?
Our generation Z would do that.
I’m not one just so you know. Don’t look at m e like that!
I was doing the math. Let’s see Generation Z, when was that again?
1995 though, we’re talking about 1995, being born in 1995.
Have you listened to our podcast on the subject?
Were those the American sources that you were quoting?
I think so. Well, I don’t know.
For the much earlier… Yeah for the baby boomers.
So when is generation Z then?
Okay, so then we are talking about the Y generation. My mistake.
So and I would like to tell you about a couple more rules of digital etiquette.
So apparently it’s considered impolite if you are having a meeting and then you have your phone on the table. And if you are waiting for… Which, yeah, I mean… No, we are not doing that ever, no no no.
No, that is rude, that is rude.
So but if you are waiting for an important call, then it’s usually you know, polite to tell people about that and say I’m waiting for a call, excuse me. And if you have a phone call, it’s polite to pick up the phone and leave, you know, go somewhere else to speak, not to speak at the table.
So and of course it’s impolite to talk on the phone in public transport, which some people still do and that’s annoying. I mean, I don’t want to know the details of your private life. Thank you. So, yeah.
And then there are people in social media and, you know, in messengers, there are people who write the whole message as one message. And then there are people who write, you know, one line at a time, so it’s like hello. How is it going? Look. I have a question. And you have like 19 messages which could’ve been, you know, one message.
So and usually it’s one of the digital etiquette rules is that make it in one message and then in one message you have to state, you know, the problem you have or something you want from a person, so save their time.
Thank you, I did not know that.
Are you the person who sends 95 messages?
Sometimes I think what would the received prefer? Are they dull-minded enough that they actually needed to be separated? Or can they actually handle?
So if you ever get a message from Barbara, that’s one sentence at a time, then you know the judgement that Barbara has made about your processing power.
One sentence at a time person, yeah.
Right, that’s right. Limited processing power.
Okay, as long as it‘s not 15 voice messages, you know, I’m good.
Right, individual sentences. Listen carefully!
Just pay close attention, I’m only gonna say this once.
Yeah. Well, tell me, has there been anything new for you in this conversation and what is going to be your main takeaway from this episode? Yes, Gary! I’m going to…
I’m gonna stay away from… And I’m gonna be knocking on doors and announcing my presence.
And then people from behind the sofa would say we don’t need anything. Don’t want anything!
Right, and Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas! Okay. Barbara, that’s an interesting takeaway from the episode, but.
No, I learned a lot actually. Beginning perhaps with the, what was it? The Catholic way of eating. I never thought that’d be the only Catholic thing I’ve ever done in my life was eat every single meal Catholic style. I had no idea. No, and a lot of other things actually that were… I can’t think of some now… Don’t put me on the…
You have to listen to the podcast.
You have to, you’ll have to, Gary.
And then, you know, on our website you can find full scripts of each episode, so you can, you know, copy and paste.
Nicely done! Would that be found at www.bigappleschool.com?
Oh so you are listening to what I say!
Alright. I think my main takeaway would be exactly what Gary said about two methods of eating, styles of eating, yeah, but I had no idea. And smoking in a classroom! I mean, what?
Smoking in the boys’ room, remember that song?
I remember that. Oh that brings back 1980s.
Smoking in the boys room.
Find on Youtube that music or something. Who wants to listen to that now.
We should attach the song to the podcast then, you know.
Alright! Well, thank you very much for this conversation. So that was the BigAppleSchool podcast and today we discussed etiquette, found out about Gary’s family, interesting stories from the past, we talked about digital etiquette and, again, made Gary learn so many things about present days.
Right. Out jaws around the ground, that’s all we can say.
Thank you for listening and remember, if you struggle to understand our conversation, you are always welcome to the website, which is bigappleschool.com…?
Yes! Where you can find full scripts of each episode, so you can read it while listening and that’s amazing. So maybe you can even, you know, make notes, copy-paste, so Gary…
By the way I must say, we say that but it is pretty amazing, it is pretty cool technology.
And actually I do have an adult student who said how much she does listen to the podcast. How much she enjoys it.
So sweet! And dear listeners, if you have any comments about you know, something new you found out in our podcast, or some comments about what you think. Something we haven’t mentioned or, you know, please share and leave a comment in Vk or, well, on any social media basically where you listen to our podcast.
And if you want to get more content which will help you learn English, you can follow us on Vk, Youtube, Telegram, Instagram, just search our name, which is again…
BigAppleSchool. That’s it!
Yes! So that was Katya, and my guests for today were…
Stay tuned and we’ll see you around!