Charles MacPherson owns a Toronto-based firm that trains butlers for hotels as well as for private residences. And for my weekend radio show, he’s my go-to guy for all questions of etiquette.
I asked him how one should be a gracious summer houseguest, and here’s his advice. Arrive Friday in time for dinner and leave Sunday right after lunch. Don’t stay longer even if your hosts insists–it’s a lot of work having houseguests.
Before you arrive, find out the plans for the weekend to see if there’s anything you can bring for the weekend, food-wise. And never show up empty handed. Flowers and wine are always welcome, but baking a pie or cake is also very thoughtful.
Always volunteer to help the host, and even if he or she shoos you away from the kitchen, fluff the pillows on the sofa. Help out any way you can. Don’t hog the bathroom and always leave it as clean or cleaner than you found it. Send a thank you gift. Maybe a drawing by one of your children or an appropriate book related to your host’s interests.
I know—those kinds of places used to be called “hot-sheet hotels.” But a couple of entrepreneurs figured travelers might find a day rate in a classy place attractive.
Say you land early in a city after a red-eye flight and would like to nap for a few hours and take a shower before making that afternoon business pitch? Or you’re away from home and want some peace and quiet and Wi-Fi to get some work done? With room service.
That’s the concept behind a web site and an app called HotelsByDay.com. It’s only a few months old, but there are almost 20 cities with very nice rooms on offer. For example, the Rittenhouse 1715 in Philly will rent you a room from 9 am to 3 pm for $120. At the Edgewater in South Beach, it’s $100 from 10 am to 4 pm. And the hip Shade Hotel (pictured) in the heart of Manhattan Beach, the LA beach town, it’s $175 from 9 to 7 pm.
Use HotelsByDay.com to check into the Shade, spend the day at the beach, take a shower before 7, and go to dinner refreshed. Beats a cabana.
Joe is curator of the authoritative web site JoeSentMe.com, and he ticked off several incidents he thinks point to a customer-be-damned attitude on some US airlines.
First, there was the international airline association’s proposal that all carry-on bags be smaller. After an outcry from frequent flyers, US carriers protested, too, and IATA, or the International Air Transport Association, managed a meager, “Never mind.” Do you think IATA ever asked any passengers how they felt about the issue?
Then there was Lufthansa’s decision that beginning in September it would charge $18 to anyone who buys a Lufthansa ticket from third-party ticket seller. Where, by the way, Lufthansa sells 70% of its tickets. Air France and KLM are reportedly considering following suit.
Then there was that United flight from Chicago to London that was diverted to Goose Bay, Canada, where nearly 200 passengers had to overnight in cots in unheated military barracks. Maybe United had no choice, but it didn’t keep passengers informed and took way too long to get those passengers back on their trip.
Airlines don’t hate us. They just ignore us.
“Bucket list” often refers to trips we want to take, but it’s also used to refer to any list of things we need to do by a certain time.
Where the heck did that phrase come from, anyway?
American linguist and language columnist for the Wall Street Journal Ben Zimmer explained the unusual epistemology of the phrase on my weekend radio show recently, and I found it fascinating.
The term stems from a 2007 movie called “The Bucket List” that featured Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as terminal cancer patients who make a list of the things they want to do before they die.
But where did “bucket” come from?
First, think of the phrase “kicking the bucket.” Zimmer traces that phrase to an old French word “buquet,” meaning “balance.” And etymologists say “bucket” used to mean “beam,” as in a beam near animals being hung up for slaughter. In their death throes, their bucking kicked a nearby beam. And there you have it, “kicking the bucket.”
The writers of the movie “The Bucket List” married “kicking the bucket” to “list,” and that’s how “bucket list” was born. As I mentioned, common usage now seems to mean any number of “things I got to do” before just about any deadline.
You can win a bar bet with this!
Here’s Ben Zimmer’s article on how “bucket list” entered the lexicon.
London’s famous taxis are pricey, but traditional, London taxi drivers know that complicated city well. Just remember that protocol involves politely telling the driver your destination before you open the door to enter the taxi. (He or she will always invite you in.)
A less expensive alternative are the so-called black cabs that have no signage and must be booked via phone. And, of course, much to the displeasure of London’s cabbies, Uber is in town, too.
But the cheapest and generally fastest way to get around town is via the Tube, and the most common mistake visitors make is buying a ticket for each ride. You’ll find all Londoners using what’s called an Oyster card, a card you buy and add value to at most any Tube station. You can use it on city busses, as well, which—and listen to this carefully—do not accept cash. An Oyster card cuts the cost of your ride considerably.
Apple Pay says you’ll soon be able to use it on London busses and the Tube, but until then, get that Oyster card.