manners

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Most gym etiquette is really just common sense. If you get up from a machine and leave a sweaty ass print, wipe it down with a towel. If a lady is running vigorously on the treadmill, it is inappropriate to stare, no matter the bounciness of her breasts or cut of her shirt.

But, this winter has found me in the pool, which, due to a long streak of chilly weather, has seen at least two to a lane almost every time I’ve gone. And while most poolside rules of etiquette are either A) posted B) ridiculously obvious, there seem to be a lot of people who ignore them, so I thought I’d list a few ways not to be a tool at the pool.

Wardrobe

Every couple of months (or more, if you swim really frequently), enlist a pal to look at you in your suit while wet, front and back. If it’s see-through, it’s inappropriate. Go shopping. That especially goes for the 65-year-old man with the flesh colored Speedo. You all, I really wish I was joking. You have no idea.

Boxers are not pants. Guys, I understand that the locker room attaches to the pool area, and if you forgot something, it seems like it should be fine to walk out in your boxers — they cover about the same amount as a bathing suit, right? WRONG. We know what could come swinging out of there at any moment, and we don’t want to look — believe me, we do not want to look — but we can’t look away. Just put on some damn pants, man.

Ladies, before you haul yourselves out of the water, take a quick second to make sure everything is in place. You know what I mean.

Manners

The sign on the wall states that you must share your lane if someone is waiting, and if more than two people are sharing the lane, you circle swim. So, dude, share your lane. You were stopping at the end of every 50 before I walked up, and I’m sorry, but I don’t believe that you suddenly had to start a super long set, swimming right down the middle, just as soon as I approached.

That being said, if you’re the one walking up to the lane, make an effort to catch the swimmer’s eye before you jump in and almost land on my the swimmer’s head you jerkass. If the swimmer is clearly in the middle of a long set and not looking up, sit on the edge and try dangling your feet for a second to get their attention. If you just jump in and start swimming at me, at best I’ll be startled (and pissed), and, at worst, we will crash, I will be furious, and both of us will be hurt. But especially you. You will definitely be hurt.

If you’re a seasoned swimmer and you see someone who looks completely clueless trying to find a lane, for the love of Pete, throw them a bone and share your lane — it’s scary to be the new kid, and the pool can be intimidating.

And I have one parting word of advice. It’s not really etiquette, I guess, but it’s something I’m ashamed to say I need to remind myself of more often than I should. Your workout is not more important than someone else’s. Yes, it’s annoying that the Gentle Joints Zumba Party for Centenarians (and Beyond!) takes up three of the five pool lanes and the fluff from someone’s Depends is floating by your face. It’s frustrating that you’re having to share a lane with Splashy McDrownerson and you’re choking on the wake he’s creating. But everyone is there to work out, get a little fitter, and feel good about themselves, so just mind your own business, knock out a few laps, and remember that you were probably once a Splashy, and one day, god willing, you’ll join that Swimming for Seniors class.

(Also, don’t pee in the pool. EWWW.)

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In the general scheme of things, I try to be polite and proper. Now, sure, I can belch like a man, and I’ve been known to use a curse word or two (or all of them), but in most cases, I like to follow the rules that society sets. Specifically, I like to tip properly.

Some of it’s easy — unless you do a pretty shoddy job waiting my table, you’re getting 20% from me. I waited tables for a couple of days (no, literally — I was hired, trained a day, worked a day, and realized I couldn’t do it and quit); I know how difficult it is, and I appreciate when it’s done well because it is HARD WORK. You have to be polite but not too friendly, remember what items come with what sides, keep track of who ordered what … forget it. I’ll happily give someone a few extra dollars when they’re able to manage all that. Even if they don’t know how to pronounce half the things on the menu.

Services are a little tougher. Bellhops and valets, not a big deal, but I get flustered with things like spa services. Probably because I almost never get them, but still, it’s tricky. However, I know ahead of time what I’m going to spend, so I can calculate and plan. I am a planner, you know.

Now, here’s where the waters become all muddied for me: I just picked up some Chinese food, and there, on the receipt, is a line for tip. On the counter, there’s a tip jar. I feel like there are two reasons for tipping. One, because you know the person providing the service gets paid in such a way that they rely on tips (like a waitress who makes $4 an hour + tips). Two, to reward exceptional service or hard work (like a valet running to grab my car in the sweltering heat so my precious little self doesn’t have to sweat).

I mean, I don’t want to sound cheap, but what am I supposed to do in that situation? I’m obviously not going to leave 20%, but I feel like tossing a buck in the tip jar for my $25 order looks cheaper than leaving nothing. Like, “Hi, I’m acknowledging that I can tip you, but I’m not going to tip you any big amount. Enjoy that pop pack of gum candy bar third of a tank of gas on me!”

The girl at the counter was sufficiently pleasant — no complaints from me, but, I mean, I drove there, I walked in, and she handed me the food I paid for in a big bag. Do I tip? Do I not tip? Do I tip a lot? I would love love love to hear from people who have more extensive food service experience than I (and the chances are pretty damn good that you do), but I’d also like to hear from anyone who has a theory on how to best handle this. In advance, I thank you!

(And yes, I know everyone would like to be tipped. Of course they would. But, I mean, there’s not a tip jar at the dentist’s office for me to leave a few bucks for the hygienist when she cleans my teeth without making my gums bleed. There’s no tip line on the credit card receipt at the book store to show my appreciation to a helpful employee who helps me find random paperbacks in a particular genre. I’m just trying to find out if tipping in a place like my Chinese restaurant is proper manners or going above and beyond.)

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