Friday, July 7, 2017

Etiquette for community leaders

As a columnist I get emails from readers asking for my advice. Like how to not get abducted by aliens. Or where can you buy urine to pass a drug test? Or how to evade Courts when they come to repossess your bed?  But this week I got an email I actually care to reply to. It reads: “Dear Darryn, I am a poor community leader who runs a humble multimillion dollar construction company. I have been invited to a swearing in ceremony for a Government Minister at President’s House. I’m not used to high society. I mostly socialize with people who will stab you in your chest as opposed to your back .Can you please give me some tips on how to act? Many thanks, C. Biggs.”

 Well Mr. Biggs, as Oscar Wilde said, the key to good manners is not that you “won’t spill ketchup on the dinner table, it’s that you don’t notice when someone else does.” Or to put it another way; it’s not that you won’t notice someone getting shot; it’s that you won’t tell the police what you saw. Below are some points you may find helpful. Follow them and I promise you’ll go from taking out a hit to being a hit at your government event.
Dress to impress
Remember clothes make the man. And the community leader that intimidates him. Wear something that says to people you’re confident, sophisticated and capable of breaking their legs. Try a nice smart suit with a tie and always button your coat. You’ll look sharp as well as have ample space to hide at least two sharp knives.  Remember to always wear a striped tie with a solid shirt and vice versa. If you’re carrying a Tec-9, try a nice bright red shirt. If you’re carrying an Uzi, a nice blue shirt will do. A standard revolver goes well with any colour.

Always RSVP
Always let your host know that you’ll be attending. This will allow them to properly accommodate you, if they need to seat you. It will also give them ample time to prepare a statement in case they need to explain to the media as to why you are there. The last thing you want to do is show up unexpectedly. Your host may have given your place to another guest or cannot accommodate you on account of suddenly remembering that you pose a security risk. 

Enjoy conversations  
 As a community leader you may be unaccustomed to people asking you questions, especially too many questions. But in this social setting it’s normal for people to talk about themselves with each other. Try practicing some conversation topics like “what do you do?” or, “what do you think of this weather we are having?” or, “don’t you think this proposed anti-gang legislation is a waste of time?”.

Try and avoid topics like “who you find have the better name; Rasta City or Unruly ISIS?” or, “are you wearing a wire?”. And especially refrain from saying “everybody in this room who is a state witness put up your hand”. 

Display table manners
Since you are attending a swearing in for a Government Minister, it is unlikely that you will need to prepare for a formal dinner. Though we know how much T&T politicians love to eat ah food; so be at least conscious of displaying basic table manners. 

Like, never talk with food in your mouth. Do not use your utensils to point. And of course, never use your salad fork to stab someone just because you feel they are “looking at you funny”If you are proposing a toast, raise your glass in the air. There is no need to drop some alcohol on the floor and sing “this is for my fallen soldiers, we miss you!”. 

Ask yourself: Do I really need to go?
The main question all community leaders should ask themselves before they attend fancy government functions is; do I really need to do this? After all, failing to attend won’t stop politicians from giving you lucrative URP contracts in exchange for helping them get votes. Dr. Rowley may have fired Marlene McDonald for her latest indiscretion, but he isn’t going to do anything crazy like cut the URP budget. In fact, people barely even acknowledge that gang violence is directly linked to URP. Plus these days, it’s safer liming at home.

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