Our own Ms. Modern Manners Sharon Schweitzer, JD is on the scene this gorgeous new year to share insight on how to gracefully navigate some potentially perplexing social situations.

Dear Ms. Modern Manners,

Cruise season is upon us again. This year we are feeling adventurous and exploring new Ports-of-Call for us on a three-week cruise in February. Any sage words of wisdom?

                                                                                                                               Ready To Cruise

Dear Constant Cruiser,

As a savvy world traveler, you’ll hear different languages spoken by fellow passengers and locals in your new Ports of Call. Keep in mind that it isn’t a foreign language. Maybe it’s foreign to you, but it certainly isn’t to millions of fluent speakers of the language. If you are traveling to Europe or Asia, in addition to your local guide, Duolingo, bring the Port-of-Call Fact Sheet which includes local phrases like hello, please, and thank you, as well as safety information. Fellow passengers who speak a different language have equal safety rights. Avoid throwing a travel tantrum. It’s about more than compromise – it’s about social graces.


Dear Ms. Modern Manners,

I’m a parent in a conundrum. My kids think the dockless scooters are the best. How do I handle this without looking like a dinosaur from the past?

                                                                                                                Frustrated Downtowner                                

Dear Urban Dweller,

Since we can’t add all dockless scooters to the #birdgraveyard, let’s educate our loved ones:

  1. Courtesy: These scooters are a new phenomenon. Encourage your family to park and lock the scooter in an appropriate place. Avoid blocking handrails, wheelchair ramps, building entrances/exits, or fire hydrants. Leave adequate space for pedestrians to walk. Check their app for red zones where parking is prohibited.
  2. Scoot mindfully: Even though the scooter’s speed is regulated to 15 miles per hour advise them to be conscientious by wearing a helmet, watching traffic, and being respectful of cars, bicycles and pedestrians.
  3. Obey traffic regulations: Remind them to obey traffic regulations and know whether they’re allowed to be in the street, bike lane or on the sidewalk. These rules may vary by neighborhood, city, county, and even university campus.
  4. Defer to pedestrians and cyclists: Sometimes sidewalks are just for walkers. Respect fellow riders and pedestrians by slowing down, stopping when necessary, providing plenty of space, and displaying courtesy. Many cities and some universities have banned e-scooters due to rude and dangerous behavior.


Dear Ms. Modern Manners,

There is a hottie who works out at the same club I do and I’ve been wanting to start a conversation. How do I know if it’s appropriate to do so at the gym?

                                                                                                        Training For Strength & Love

Dear Fit & Fab,

In our modern world, respect silent signals. The use of headphones, avoiding eye contact, and choosing secluded gym areas are all definite signs that hottie wants to be left alone. Many people consider the gym as a personal space where they can focus on wellness and fitness-without detours to chat. When a fitness buff lingers at the smoothie bar, seize the moment. If you do run into a colleague or friend, a simple acknowledgment is appropriate.


Dear Ms. Modern Manners,

To thank a hostess, is it enough to send a timely email these days, perhaps a text the following morning, or what do you recommend?

Digitally Inclined

Dear Traditional & Digital,

All etiquette experts agree on one thing: handwritten thank you notes are brilliant, elegant, and absolutely necessary. When the giver sets aside both time and funds to select and send a special gift, spending 10 minutes and a Forever stamp to say thanks is the ultimate show of gratitude and expresses your appreciation. A text or email the day following to say what a good time you had is completely appropriate, but it does not replace a handwritten note, which should be written within one day.