“Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot.”
-Clarence Thomas, American Supreme Judge.
Most astute businessmen insist on breaking bread with anyone they are going to work with, especially someone they plan on bringing on board as a new hire. It is common everywhere for interviews to take place over a meal, where your every move is watched and critiqued from across the table. Making a mistake could mean costing you your dream job. Under these circumstances suddenly the manners my mother taught me at the dinner table become indispensable, but can I be sure my family has been dining properly? Elbows off the table, chew with your mouth closed, take one bite at a time, I felt confident that I was equipped with the social grace to confront any formal dining situation. That was until I entered the elaborately decorated dining room prepared for our annual etiquette dinner event and counted the silverware.
To rescue those lost in the pomp and pageantry of the event (I assure you that I wasn’t the only one who had shown up for free food and found themselves utterly overwhelmed) Carol Hairslip, co-director of the International School of Protocol, took control of the night and coached us from beginning to end, guiding our every move, through a 3-course meal. The lecture began no sooner had we found our seats, with the aid of power point slides and her assertive booming voice, Carol proved herself an expert in dinner etiquette and enlightened everyone in the room with her advice and tips. In between lessons we were given time to practice what we were taught. I found it easy to pretend that I was in a five-star restaurant wooing my employers, all the attendees were dressed in formal attire and were required to share a table with people they have never met before.
Much of Carol’s lesson dove into the traditions and rules that surround the dinner table, making sure to explain the culmination of hundreds of years of changing manners we practice today. Did you know that the knife is placed on the right side of the plate always facing inwards? In Medieval times a blade at the table facing outwards was a sign of aggression to the person beside you. To wrap things up Carol gave out prizes to the attendees that could identify cutlery from a collection of antique sterling silver flatware. By the end of the night I learned that a hair-pick-comb looking fork is for strawberries, what was practically a back scratcher instrument is actually a sardine fork, and the spork we have always known and loved is originally a proper ice-cream eating utensil. Who would have known? Our next big event is International Night March 26, 2015 from 5pm-8pm in the multipurpose room.