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Sunday, July 24, 2005

Unbridled Etiquette

Unbridled Etiquette

Don't you know about the new fashion honey?
All you need are looks and a whole lotta money.”

-Billy Joel

A few weeks ago, Mark Hebert at WHAS TV in Louisville did a story about the Kentucky Labor Cabinet hiring a consultant to teach employees proper manners.

The employees were told they needed to bathe daily and wear real gold and silver instead of the fake stuff.

The consultant said that “conservative dress was a symbol of conservative political beliefs.”

The story made me angry. I’m still mad about the state firing park workers with long hair and tattoos. I thought this was another example of Fletcher’s team treating state employees like servants at their country clubs.

Then I realized the problem. The consultant did not understand the techniques necessary to work in state government.

Instead of telling employees to take a bath, she needed to be teaching things they really need to know.

For example, there is a proper way to greet a road contractor. A state employee needs to use phrases like “money is no object” and “your wish is my command” in the presence of any contractor who contributed to the Governor’s campaign.

Otherwise, the employees will find themselves fired or transferred to Paducah. Proper manners can save a state employee’s career.

The Governor’s political staff needs to follow a different code when dealing with contractors. They should extend the right hand for a firm handshake and keep the left jacket pocket exposed so the road contractor can stuff a wad of checks in it.

A political staffer should always wear a suit or jacket. Preferably one with big pockets.

Many people have seen guests who will not leave a party at the proper ending time. The manners consultant may have addressed that situation in her training.

State supervisors need to know how to ask people to leave state government jobs so that the Governor’s friends can take their places.

The term for a person staying late at a party is called a “straggler.” The term for someone trying to keep a merit job is called a “Democrat.”

There is a proper way to deal with both.

With a “straggler” you should walk the guest to the door and hope they politely leave.

With a “Democrat” you should transfer them to a job far from their homes and hope they politely retire.

I’m not sure if the manners consultant discussed written communications. A handwritten note is an important social tool but email is gauche.

There is a penalty called the “indictment” for those in state government who make this social faux pas.

An indictment is almost as serious as not being listed on the social register.

Holding a door open is a part of good manners. Governor Fletcher showed his mastery of etiquette by putting in a secret door to his office. The $5000 door was seen as a waste of taxpayers’ money but actually was the first step in helping the Governor follow proper social procedures.

Instead of encountering an ill mannered reporter, who may or may not have bathed, the Governor can avoid contact with that ilk.

It would probably be a good idea to add a secret door to the Franklin County courthouse so that the Governor’s staff can avoid reporters as indictments are handed down.

Bad manners breed bad manners and the Governor’s staff does not want to fall to the level of reporters.

Especially since I have never seen a reporter wearing a Rolex.

If any of the Governor’s appointees are convicted of a crime, it will send all their manners training right out the window.

The consultant for the Labor Cabinet said that conservative dress is equated with conservative thought.

Bright orange prison jump suits send the wrong fashion message. People will think they are radical, liberal, Democrats.

Being seen as a Democrat would be harder on the Fletcher people than a stay in the big house.

They won’t be able to flash real gold and silver in jail and I am not sure if daily bathing is part of the routine.

If Fletcher staff people are convicted, they will have to add a special new etiquette program.

Maintaining good manners as they make “Unbridled Spirit” license plates.

Don McNay is President of McNay Settlement Group and bathes on a regular basis. You can write to him at and read other things he has written at