Wednesday, November 09, 2005

etiquette journal: ballgames

I want to make a collection of etiquette journal entries. The idea is to provide basic guidelines and rubrics for improved etiquette. The first one is about etiquette at ballgames.

I think the first thing about etiquette at ballgames is that some people have really good food and other people don't. For example, at one ballgame, we had carrots, but the people next to us had my favorite pizza: pepperoni and sausage. Maybe one rule for etiquette at ballgames is that you could offer your neighbors a unit of your food (e.g. a half a sandwich, or a slice of pizza). People who really want your food don't always have the courage to ask, so good etiquette would be to offer them a taste. So even a comment like: "Would you like a taste of my hotdog/sandwich/pizza?" can go a long way. In retrospect, I probably should have offered them some carrots. But I thought I did.

The next thing about etiquette at ballgames concerns the vending and lines. Some people like a lot of condiments on their hotdogs, for example. If someone is in front of you in the line, it is because they got there first (usually--though if they didn't then an entirely different set of rules applies--etiquette can be complicated!) If someone got in the line before you, that means that they deserve to be in front of you. For the person in the front of the line, it doesn't really matter the length or the make-up of the line behind. And it is rude to say things like: "Hey, you're hogging all the catsup." or "Did you use the rest of the mustard because you needed like an inch thick of mustard, and now my 6 year old can't have any?" or "Hey there is a line behind you, do you really need that much relish?" I know that some people really do need that much relish, because it is delicious.

Related to the previous two things, if you have a hotdog, and you don't finish it, rather than waste it, you could ask your neighbor if he wants the rest of it. But often, your neighbor won't want to ask something like: "Are you going to finish that hotdog?" or "Could I please have the rest of your hotdog?" Remember etiquette involves a host of complications. For example, at ballgames, you often have never met your neighbor sitting next to you. The only bond you have is your team spirit if you are both cheering for the same team. And he/she may not be honest if you give a choice like: "Should I throw this away, or do you really want the rest of it?" So the best etiquette I think is to say something like: "I'm going to leave for a little bit, I really don't mind if you eat the rest of my hotdog, or if you throw it away, or give it to someone else. There will really be no way for me to know how it disappeared if it is gone when I come back, and I won't inquire after where it went either."


  1. I really like your last suggestion. Etiquette isn't about a stuffy old set of rules--it's about making people feel comfortable. I would also add that you could say, "My leaving this hotdog here for you to finish or not finish is in no way an implication that it was a mistake for you to bring carrots as a treat to a ball game."

  2. WOW. Very well said. I definitely should have included 'for you to finish or not finish...' big improvement. And you also framed the whole project: It's not about 'a stuffy old set of rules' but rather about making others feel comfortable. I may revise the post, and it may come back looking suspiciously like a lot of language from your comment, would that be ok? Sounds like you've been around the block a few times when it comes to etiquette.

  3. Awesome.

    My leaving-half-eaten-food-for-others ettiquette has been greatly affected by the homeless guy living on our couch. He refuses any food we offer him when we're eating. But as soon as we're done he's all over the leftovers. We've started to just assume anything we have left over will be his. You're not going to eat that? Nah, it can be Steve's.

  4. Susan: How long has Steve been on your couch? I haven't thought about etiquette with homeless people as carefully as I have about etiquette at ballgames, but given your experience, the connections seem promising.

  5. I see a need to combine recent topics. How about a post on etiquette of robots eating at ballgames? We may not all be so quick to laugh when the poop-bots start finishing off our left-overs. I know I'll be thinking twice.

  6. ben what about if people have cold sores? I'd be fine with sharing food i don't want to finish with people, but i'd want to make sure they know that i can sometimes get cold sores so it would have to be a 'drink at your own risk' kind of thing with a refills cup, i'd like it if there was a sign or a signal i could give like a wink. let me know if that's okay to add to the etiquitte list too.

  7. Interesting point. I think if I was sitting next to a person who was eating what looks like a really tasty hot dog, and that person has a cold sore and he isn't going to finish it, I would at least like the option of finishing it. So maybe reword it like: "I'm going to leave for a little bit, I really don't mind if you eat the rest of my hotdog, or if you throw it away, or give it to someone else. There will really be no way for me to know how it disappeared if it is gone when I come back, and I won't inquire after where it went either, but you should know that I have a cold sore." For me, I get cold sores all the time, so that kind of possible side-effect wouldn't phase me a bit, but people in general would probably appreciate the gesture. What do you think?

  8. Heimerwisen: I think your idea will be much more important when more and more robots come out of the woodworks to attend functions like ball games. I think I would like to have a robot at a ballgame because I would like to be able to ask the score or other statistics and have the robot answer: "" And the article linked to your name is (as seems to be the case with lots of articles on robots) fascinating.

  9. Ben,

    For the most part, I really enjoy your blog. But, I have to say, I am disturbed by the way you repeatedly dehumanize robots. Your scholarship on robots appears to be groundbreaking; and I am hesitant to critique an expert, but I invite you to question the assumptions you bring to the table.

    For example, while professing to tout the virtues of robots and even expressing a desire to see a ballgame with a robot (though I note you use the proprietary terminology "have a robot at a ballgame"), you encourage your readers to regard robots as signficantly less than human by insisting that robots speak slowly.(e.g., "").

    Granted, robots might speak ENGLISH slowly. To tell you the truth, I don't know much about robots. Until I read your essay, I didn't even know they were real. But from the limited research I've done, it seems that robots' native language is a complex combination of beeps and flatulence. As they learn ENGLISH, robots might speak it slowly at first -- just like you would perform robot-speak slowly were you to give it a try. I'm sure, if you looked hard enough, you would find robots that have assimilated and speak more rapidly.

    Also, and this one saddens me on many levels to point out, the "voice" of the robot in your essay is actually your voice. I knew it when I first heard it. Though I didn't know what to do at the time, with the Banner of Heaven thing blowing up, it is clear that we need an absolute commitment to honesty in the blogosphere. If you don't admit that the robot voice is yours (and I would encourage you to come clean on this one), I'd challenge you to post the robot voice and your voice so that people can compare.

    In short, I think you have much to offer in the way of robot studies, but more importantly I think we need to build bridges between robots and non-robots, if we're all going to get along. And that's what it's all about.

  10. Steve: I'm flattered to have others interested in some of the work I'm doing with robots. Above all, I want to start a conversation about robots. They seem to be the elephant in the room. Most non-naive people recognize that robots hold much hope and concern for people in the future, yet noone seems to want to address that reality. People don't hesitate to talk about robot's lights, but few want to delve into their circuits.

    I'm sorry if my typed rendition of robot talking offended you. The LAST thing I want to do is extinguish a nauvice's enthusiasm for robots. I wasn't sure how to type in a way that depicted a robot talking. Perhaps I chose an unwise route, and perhaps I was just highlighting how robots speak English. As you mention, robots do speak English more slowly. But as you also rightly recognize, this does not mean that they are stupid, In fact, in many ways, robots speak more rapidly than babies. Are you suggesting that babies are stupid? Please clarify.

    The voice. I thought I addressed this in my robots post. Yes, it is my voice. I never intended to disguise that. I was trying to give people a sample of how robots talk, I was trying to say: "Robots talk like this." I did not intend to suggest that it was actually a robot, though I can see how someone could come to that conclusion given my description. Also, I am not the only voice. There is an intentional buzz in the background of the robot voice--listen closely and you'll hear--that buzz was provided by Ralph.

    I am encouraged by other's support and enthusiasm for my work on robots. It really is a subject I am excited about and see A LOT of promise. Since you're interested in my work, it might interest you to know that I'm also compiling a list of words that rhyme with 'robot' or rhyme with significant aspects to robots, such as circuits (obviously), technology, megabots, futuristic, etc. Unfortunately, I'm having to resort to a lot of made up words, but as you might guess, it is a fascinating and rewarding exercise.

  11. Ben,

    Having re-read your post and comments, I fear I owe you an apology. First, I didn't know Ralph was a robot. Second, now that I know a little bit about robots and know that Ralph is a robot, it just makes me so mad that other people don't treat them better by, say, taking them to a ballgame and giving them part of a hot dog, and warning them about cold sores when appropriate. They'd probably get a kick out of that. Don't you think? I don't know; it just kinda seems like they would -- with their circuits and all.

    I don't get what you're saying about babies. I once heard a teacher say their brains are like sponges. And I've never seen a sponge that impressed me as being particularly smart, except maybe those yellow and green ones with the real scrubby stuff on the green side, which I think is more a smart design than the sponge itself actually being smart. But, then again, I don't know much about sponges either.

    On your rhyming project, Sara and I worked on it for a while and figure biscuit pretty much rhymes with circuit.

    Keep up the good work, and please let me know if I can help in any way.

  12. The robot,
    shaped like a teapot,
    ate a biscuit,
    to feed his circuit.

  13. I love it. Here's one I developed:

    The system of Degobah(t)
    Home of the megabot
    With a Starwars witch
    fused it's switch

    Luke put out the fires.
    But still there were wires.