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Did “Yahoo!” Just Become a Verb?

Posted by Peter Post February 26, 2013 07:00 AM

Numerous online sources including the Telegraph have reported that on last Friday a leaked internal memo written by Yahoo! HR head Jackie Reses disclosed plans to put in place a “No Telecommuting” rule. Yahoo! employees will, starting in June, have to work in a Yahoo! office. The memo explained, “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together." It went on to talk about the benefits of collaboration and creativity coming from in-person interactions.

Needless to say, a firestorm of comment has erupted across the Internet. Interestingly, while the majority of commenters are taking both sides on the issue, others are questioning the manner in which the rule change is being instituted.

Part of Reses’s explanation focused on the importance of collaboration and interaction: “Being a Yahoo isn’t just about your day-to-day job, it is about the interactions and experiences that are only possible in our offices.” Reses uses Yahoo as a noun to refer to anyone who is a Yahoo! employee.

I wonder how long it will be before Yahoo! starts turning up as a verb? For instance a Yahoo! employee who chooses working at home over working at Yahoo! might comment to a friend, “I got Yahooed.” Or maybe “I got Yahood.” Whatever.

One thing I know for sure. While Google as a verb has a connotation that reflects positively on the brand and on the brand’s function, i.e. as a search engine, being Yahood is not a brand image Yahoo! wants for its name.

You can see the entire memo at All Things D.

FOrKS, “b” and “d”, and BMW. What do they have to do with dining?

Posted by Peter Post February 19, 2013 07:00 AM

When teaching dining etiquette, I am amazed to find how many people aren’t sure where to place the knife, fork and spoon, and which bread plate is theirs especially at a crowded table.

One of the best tricks for knowing which bread plate is yours is the “b” and “d” hint. On each hand, make a circle by touching the tip of your thumb to the tip of your forefinger. Then straighten out the remaining fingers on each hand. As you look down at your hands, your left hand will look like a small letter “b” and your right hand will look like a small letter “d.” The “b”—that’s your left hand—stands for bread, meaning your bread plate is on the left side of the place setting. The “d”—that’s your right hand—stands for drinks, which means your drinks (wine, water, or any other beverage) are on the right side of your place setting.

And in case “b” and “d” slip your mind, you can always remember BMW instead. “B” stands for bread, which is to the left of “M” which stands for your meal or the plate. “W” represents water, or drinks, found on the right side of the plate Left to right: Bread-Meal-Water, aka BMW.

So, what about FOrKS? FOrKS is a mnemonic that defines the position of the utensils in a place setting. Left to right, start with the “F” which stands for forks, and next comes the “O” which symbolizes the plate. The small “r” tells you that everything that follows goes to the right of the plate. “K” is for knives and they are set just to the right of the plate. Finally, “S” is for spoons and they are set to the right of the knives. Forks, Plate, Knives, Spoons: FOrKS.

Use these simple tricks to take the guesswork out of setting or decoding a table. Better yet, teach your kids, and it’s one less dinnertime chore on your plate.

Texting At The Table Okay? Maybe in 2050.

Posted by Peter Post February 12, 2013 07:00 AM

USA Today reported on a new poll out by the Center for the Digital Future that sheds some interesting light on people’s perceptions of what is and what isn’t acceptable usage of texting.

If you don’t break the statistics down by age, they present a pretty strong case for not using a mobile device while at a meal. Consider the following statistics quoted in the article:

“62% said just having a mobile device on the table during a meal was inappropriate.”

“76% said texting on a mobile device during a meal was inappropriate.”

“84% said talking on a mobile device during a meal was not right.”

The question these statistics raise for me is: Why would you place your device on the table unless you plan to respond to it if it signals you? Yet, the statistics indicate that people would do just that: place it on the table and that’s okay as long as you don’t use it. Weird.

According to the survey, it appears as if the majority of the respondents think that mobile devices don’t belong at the table—until age is taken into account: 50% of 18 to 29 year olds say texting at a meal is okay, while only 15% of people over 30 agree. Frankly that makes sense. Younger people have grown up with texting and social media, while for the older crowd distractions such as cell phones and mobile devices at the table are not acceptable. At a multi-generational table, making an exception for a distraction like texting may be a stretch for the older demographic.

So, while the overall statistics indicate that use of a mobile device at a meal is still considered inappropriate today, when broken down, the statistics may indicate that one day in the future as a society we may decide that texting at the dinner table is okay.

What’s your take on this issue?

A Tipping Snub Turns Into An Employment Fiasco.

Posted by Peter Post February 5, 2013 07:00 AM

Imagine you are a waitperson at a restaurant and at the end of a customer’s meal, you receive a note along with a tip: “I give God 10% why do you get 18?” NBC News reported that this happened recently to a waitress at Applebee’s in the St. Louis area.

Two things happened: Another waitress—a friend of the employee who received this note —took a picture of it and posted it on Reddit where it went viral. Lots of people were appalled by the crass way the waitress was treated. However, the waitress who posted the note received a surprise: She was fired by Applebee’s for posting the note.

Here’s my take. The person who left the note blew it. When that person entered the restaurant, she accepted that part of the cost of the meal was the tip that will help, among other things, to compensate the staff for the less than minimum wages they are paid. For years the typical restaurant tip was 15%. But that has changed over the past decade and most people now tip 20%. (Why, you may ask? Because it is easier to figure out.) Bottom line: if you’re not willing to buy into the tipping culture in America, then don’t go to a restaurant and short the staff. Also, be careful: While restaurants usually add a gratuity for groups of six or more people, recently, I’ve been in restaurants and had the gratuity automatically added to the bill for a party of two. So check the bill carefully.

As egregious an error as the patron made, the waitress’s friend also made a critical mistake: She brought her job into her personal social media world. She reprinted an image of the note. The image included the name of the customer. And, apparently, that’s what got her fired. Applebee’s explained, “Our Guests’ personal information – including their meal check – is private, and neither Applebee’s nor its franchisees have a right to share this information publicly. We value our Guests’ trust above all else. Our franchisee has apologized to the Guest and has taken disciplinary action with the Team Member for violating their Guest’s right to privacy. This individual is no longer employed by the franchisee.”

It’s too easy to think of your social media presence as a private one, a personal one, a place to share whatever you experience in a day, a place to get up on your own soapbox. Unfortunately, it’s there for everyone, including your employer, to see. Keep your work life and your personal life online separate. Be very careful that what you post doesn’t have anything to do with your work life because once it’s out there, you can’t retract it. Even if you think you are in the right to post it, if your employer has a problem with it, then you have a problem, too.

About the author

Since 2004, Peter Post has tackled readers' questions in The Boston Sunday Globe's weekly business etiquette advice column, Etiquette at Work. The column is distributed by The New York Times More »

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