Q Dear Miss Abigail:
Help! How does one gently tell a young and impressionable co-worker that clipping his fingernails in staff meetings ~ and even at his desk ~ is distressing to the rest of us? Eeewwww.
Grossed out by a Guy
A Dear Grossed out:
Staff meetings? Yuck. Hmm . . . Perhaps you could send one of those forwarded emails around to everyone in your office. The body of the email could say “Can you believe this crazy old advice? Fresh underwear! Ha! You gotta check out this web site ~ it is soooo cool!!!! :)” with the text below pasted in. It’s from a chapter in Etiquette, Jr., a book written for young people by Mary E. Clark and Margery C. Quigley in 1939. Let’s hope it helps your co-worker realize he is making his office mates absolutely insane.
1939: Your First Job: Grooming
Be clean. Do not start off to work in an untidy suit or dress, with unpolished shoes, untidy nails, unkempt hair, or with evidences of having recently eaten garlic or onions. Bathe every day and, if possible, twice a day; nothing takes the place of soap and water. ‘The nose knows.’ Always wear fresh underwear, for the same reason. Do not wear party clothes to work, or clothes which are not plain. The desk or counter, or even elevator, is no place to clean your nails, or to comb your hair.
Do not eat except during lunch hours, and then only in the place appointed you to eat. Never pick your teeth in public; do not chew gum. Both are atrociously bad form. Do not chew the office’s pencils or your finger nails.
If you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth with your handkerchief. A person must always cover his mouth with a handkerchief to hide a yawn ~ but, then, no one should yawn at work! Always have a clean handkerchief with you, not a crumpled one. Use it. Do not substitute the back of your hand or your sleeve or your fingers. After using your handkerchief do not examine it, but replace it where it belongs. Do not leave it lying around.
Source: Clark, Mary E. and Margery Closey Quigley. Etiquette, Jr. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1939.
~ pp. 238-39 ~