Sunday, December 11, 2005

Talk to the Hand

Talk To The Hand by Lynne Truss

I picked this book up because I really enjoyed the parts of Eats, Shoots and Leaves that I read when it came out. While I know I'm a horrible person when it comes to grammar, most of the nitpicky points she was getting at are in fact ones I even know. So I do consider it kind of sad when signs and corporate entities don't get it.

But moving on to her new book, Truss is taking on manners and rudeness, subjects rather close to my heart right now because of the fact that I work in retail. Specifically, I'm working in food service right now since I'm slinging coffee at a cafe. The saddest part is, I'm not fascinated by rudeness as much because of my customers as I am my co-workers.

Truss touches on both sides, terrible customer service, and terrible customers. And I laughed and agreed with her almost every step of the way. Her conversational tone is backed up by excerpts and facts from larger works and studies of manners and society.

Most of what she has to say is very true. She talks about how men are afraid to act nice to women anymore for fear they'll be yelled at for holding the door open. I've always felt it was sad that feminism often thinks being rude to a nice person is acceptable.

She talks about people on cel phones in public places, one of my pet peeves. Truss says she's really okay with people on the train or walking down the sidewalk being on their phone, and I'm the same way, depending on the conversation. What I hate is when people come up to my register on their cel phones. I want to wear a t-shirt that says "I'm sorry, you're already talking to someone, I'll wait until you're done."

Truss does start to go off insulting video games and the internet at one point, and though some of her points are true (internet friends, no matter what you might think or experience, are not the same as real life friends. They can become real life friends though) most of them are reactionary and apply to only a small portion of the population. You know, like every other time people start insulting "gamers" and internet junkies.

But in the end, the book did make me laugh a lot, and it also gave me many things I'd like to photocopy and hang up in the break room at work. There's a brilliant list of 20 types of people you should always show respect towards, and I'd like to blow it up and post it around town.

At the moment when you start to think that Truss is belaboring her point, and repeating herself, she wraps up her book and ends. It's very short overall, I read it in only two evenings. It's definitely worth a look for anybody that thinks if they deal with one more rude clerk they're going to go by behind the counter and ring themselves up.

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