by Grace aka costofcollege

No Touching: The Countries That Dislike Physical Contact the Most
A study suggests you should hug a Finn, but not a Brit.

Do you greet a stranger by kissing them on the cheek or giving them a firm handshake? In the largest study ever quantifying where people were comfortable being touched and by whom, 1,300 men and women were asked the same question. The results suggest that when greeting most people, you’re better off with a handshake.

The participants, from Finland, France, Italy, Russia, and the U.K., detailed where strangers, family members, friends, and romantic partners were allowed to touch them. Researchers from the University of Oxford and Finland’s Aalto University then combined the results to create a so-called “heat map.”

It is not surprising that the study found “some nationalities were less enthusiastic about touching than others”.

…True to their stereotype, British participants were right at the bottom on the touchability index. And to the researchers’ surprise, Italians were less comfortable with being touched than Russians.

Some families are lavish in expressing affection with hugs and kisses.  Lately I’ve noticed that it’s still not uncommon to see Latin Americans and some Europeans of both genders walking arm in arm down the street.   It seems some stereotypes still hold.

These cultural norms can get tricky in dealing with business colleagues from different countries.  Intermarriage between different cultures is another area that can get complicated for families.

What’s your style, touchy-feely, stand-offish, or in between?  Have you had to adjust your style for family or business?  Any awkward situations?

What other cultural differences have you had to navigate in your personal or professional life?


135 thoughts on “Touchy-feely

  1. I worked in Europe for a year early in my career, and I definitely had to adjust as the European air/cheek kisses were standard in business situations. I never quite felt totally comfortable with it, but I adjusted well enough I hope after some initial awkward moments where I didn’t quite know what to do when meeting someone. That office was interesting as it was really Pan-European, so there were local cultural norms, company office norms, and individual differences between different European countries. I became somewhat close to the only other American there even though he was a much higher-level person in a different department – he helped me navigate a bit too.

    I am pretty affectionate with close friends and family, but I wouldn’t say that I am touchy-feeley with acquaintances. The IL’s are not significantly different from my family in level of affection or emotion, so it really hasn’t been an issue there. I’ll give hugs to colleagues in certain situations – like when my office neighbor recently announced her pregnancy or when someone leaves or gets a big promotion.

  2. Heck, we don’t even need to go outside the US. I think we have signifcant differences by region. Being in the South/Southwest, it has changed a lot in the past 20 years. When I first started my professional career, there was a lot of hugging. That has dropped off significantly.

    In general, I don’t hug or touch in the work place. Handshakes are the most acceptable. I have had some male colleagues who can’t seem to tie a tie for their life. Before public facing meetings, I would suggest they fix their tie or allow me to do it. One co-worker got to the point of asking me before meetings if I would fix his tie.

    Friends and family – depends on their level of comfort with hugs, but I am OK with them. I have always told my kids that they do not have to hug or allow themselves to be hugged by anyone.

  3. Chinese people will stare, and get physically much closer than we are used to. On our first trip to China, my boys were constantly surrounded by bunches of Chinese kids, who would get really close and just STARE. Amazingly, as huge as some of those cities in the interior may be, they don’t really see blonde kids very often

  4. I am affectionate with DH and the kids. I am not touchy feely with other family members.

    I am fine with a cheek kiss or hug from my good friends at work. My problem is that too many people want to hug and it gets uncomfortable. I’ve employed the “side hug”, which is more comfortable. I’ve also told people I’m sick to keep them from hugging me.

  5. I wish we could rid ourselves of the custom of handshaking. It seems like a very germy custom.

    “When I first started my professional career, there was a lot of hugging. That has dropped off significantly.”

    Some of the places I’ve worked had quite a bit of kissing. We would greet each other with kisses at conferences, for example. And then if one person did it then the rest felt awkward if they did not. Sometimes it felt genuine, but sometimes not. Maybe that would be considered sexual harassment these days.

  6. I have a South American colleague who hugs. I am not particularly a fan of hugging in the workplace. I do greet most of my friends with a hug when we get together socially. I used to work with s geographically diverse team, and when we met in person it was funny as everyone tried to be warm but not offend. I can remember the Colombians and Swiss members of the team discussing 2 vs 3 air kisses as their cultural norm. Mark that as another plus for working from home – no confusion over greetings. (Except instant messaging – do I have to begin with small talk, or can I just say hi and get to the point? This also seems to be cultural.)

  7. My kids offer up their heads for kissing. They picked this up from daycare and never let go. This was a surprise to the grandparents as there is a lot of display of affection by family towards young children in the home country.
    When I am confronted by different cultural norms, different norms for males/females I don’t automatically put out my hand but I will smile and acknowledge the greeting. At work, I greet female colleagues I am seeing after a while with a hug.

  8. “Except instant messaging – do I have to begin with small talk, or can I just say hi and get to the point? This also seems to be cultural.”

    I feel like it’s more personality than cultural. Some people really like to chat a little before getting down to business and some are more efficiency-focused. The personality that people have in meetings tends to carry over to IM. But interestingly – doesn’t seem to carry over to texting.

  9. The biggest regional difference I’ve noticed is the need to acknowledge people. In the Northeast, you’d never acknowledge someone you passed in an office hallway that you didn’t know. In the south and rural west, everyone you pass will say hi.

  10. Rhett – I had a big adjustment when we moved down here. Now I’m used to it and find it nice but my natural tendency is not to acknowledge people I don’t know.

  11. I’ve lived in the upper South, the West, the Northeast, and Texas. I personally think that southerners ACT more friendly, but they aren’t really all that friendly. People in the West are friendly for real, largely because families are more split up there, so people tend to rely more on friends. In the South and the Northeast, people do a lot more socializing with their families.

  12. My experience in Europe is that the kissy-kissy thing is more of a Southern European thing – Italy, France, Greece, etc. Northern Europeans – Germans, Dutch, Danish, and so on, are really into formal handshakes.

  13. southerners ACT more friendly, but they aren’t really all that friendly

    What does that even mean? Friendly is as friendly does.

  14. My other bizarre observation is that Italians and Chinese people talk really loudly compared to other people. You can hear a Neapolitan family in the midst of what sounds like a violent argument, and it will turn out that they are discussing the weather.

  15. I am much less touchy feely as I age. I never liked the obligatory friend hug or work air kiss, but I never went out of my way to avoid physical touch as many do. I like a little chat before or after core business. I am of course physically affectionate with immediate family. (I guess the “of course” is not universal.)

    A related question to those who are partnered. How much personal space do you need for a good nights’ sleep? There seems to be a wide range of comfort requirements. Some need a substantial private zone, hence the California King. Height makes a difference too. We are short, and can manage in a full/double, but I prefer a queen for the possibility of a little flop space or air on a stuffy night. We dislike the ubiquitous King beds in hotels and often don’t sleep as well, so we often book in B&B’s just to get a queen.

  16. Friendly to me means wanting to be real friends. Acting friendly, on the other hand, means social niceties. In the South, the checkout line ladies will always call you Sweetie and try to discuss the weather, but that doesn’t mean they want to be friends or even that they like you in particular (especially if you have a northern accent). In the North, the checkout lady also does not want to be your friend, so she just glowers at you

  17. Meme – I need a king! I don’t want to know I’m in the same bed. We used to have a queen in our old house and I slept really poorly for seven years.

  18. You know, I like it when people act nice. You don’t have to be my new bestie, but smiling when you pass someone on the sidewalk, or making chit-chat while someone is running the register, or having someone say “have a good one” when you step off the elevator, just makes for a little inside smile. As compared to the glower, or the “I’m too busy to look up while I barge into you while talking on my cell, or the “I’m going to studiously ignore that you exist while I pass within 1/2″ of you,” which all basically come across as “f-u.”

    OTOH, I also don’t have patience for the kind of chit-chat that takes all day — do your job, smile and be pleasant while doing it, and then be equally polite to the next person by ending that first conversation and moving on. All the nice people at Michael’s just *kill* me.

    Which I guess means it’s a good thing I ended up in the mid-Atlantic, where we tend to sort of in-between on most of these things. Except on the roads, where we’re just incompetent, but that’s another post.

  19. We need a king, period. DH has very wide shoulders and throws off heat like a furnace, and he gets annoyed and can’t sleep when he’s too hot. So he needs like a 1′ cooling-off radius between any portion of his body and any other heat source. We used to suck it up and do the occasional vacation in queen beds, but one of the privileges of excess disposable income is to decide we will only stay where they offer a king bed.

    But I thought the California King was longer, not wider? We went with a regular king because that offered the most width. I thought.

  20. DW’s family is a lot more huggy than mine. I don’t think I’ve hugged my Dad since I was six, although we’re very close, but my FIL is more of a hugger at arrivals and departures. It’s a little ironic, because they’re much more private with people outside the family and casual acquaintances, and my parents are more outgoing.

    DW and I were fine with a queen bed, but the king is very nice. A determining factor for how well rested either of us is for the day depends on how well we sleep after about 3:30 or 4 am. Having a little more space minimizes the likelihood that one will wake the other when shifting around.

  21. People here are easy to talk to, they are friendly but not friends. At least it gives you an opening and if both parties get along you can go onto developing a “real” friendship. I feel much more comfortable now, making this type of small talk than I ever did.

  22. I am not particularly touchy-feely. But moreso over the past ~5yrs with people (women only, not men) we see frequently the greeting hug + and cheek/air kiss is easier for me. Never at work.

    On friendliness…at the gym, almost everyone is there just to work out. Not UNfriendly, but not warm and fuzzy. Sometimes I notice couples, or maybe a group of three who are there working out together so there’s chit-chat among them while one of them uses the machine. I rarely speak with anyone, other than to confirm they’re done with that elliptical or whatever. But last night after huffing and puffing my way thru 2 miles on the treadmill the very in-shape ~25yo (female) on the one next to me says to me “good job.” To which I simply said “thanks.” Clearly that made an impression on me because I just mentioned it here.

  23. I agree with Mooshi, sort of.

    When I lived in Louise’s city 15 years ago, at first I thought people were so friendly and welcoming, but then over time I realized that they are outwardly warm & polite, which is different but not necessarily bad. Like LFB, I appreciate pleasantries to a point. It can come off as being less than genuine if you aren’t used to it. I don’t think it’s only southerners who are more polite than actually friendly though. See: Minnesota Nice

    All places are insular to a point though. When I lived in New England, I met quite a few people at work who had never been west of New York or south of New Jersey, which I found astounding.

  24. Next door neighbor friended me on facebook. I accepted. Now apparent he is batshit crazy. How long do I have to wait before unfriending him? Sometimes I hate facebook.

  25. and we have a king. we tend toward the middle so usually end up touching hands or arms. At this point a queen would be too small for us to sleep well in.

  26. The cultural difference that was hardest for me in the South was that as an early-mid-20’s woman, it was expected that I was looking to get married ASAP. The female standards of grooming were also higher than I was used to, and I never really felt comfortable with that. I didn’t live there long – I never really felt like I fit in, and I hate hot weather anyway. In contrast – I felt like I fit in fine in New England.

  27. I think both my family and friends have become more “huggy” in the last 10-15 years. I did not grow up with a lot of hugging, but everyone seems to hug at greeting and departure now. I don’t really like it but don’t go out of my way to avoid it. I do genuinely show affection to my DD with hugs and kisses, but even there I’ve gotten her to stop kissing me on the mouth because I felt she was getting a little too old for that. Fortunately, no hugs at work – a good handshake goes a long way. I am, however, quite the friendly Southerner. I greet everyone in the hallway and chat with strangers in lines/waiting rooms & checkout people at stores.

  28. I think the Southern nice is really charming. I wonder how I’d adjust to living in New England again after being down here so long. I never lived in New England as a married adult (early 20s apartment living) so I can’t do a proper comparison but I love how neighborly people are down here and I think I’ve become nicer/friendlier as a result. I have quite a few southern friends and I really feel that they are so welcoming.

    I will say that I was in Rhode Island a few summers ago and people were really friendly (DH and I actually said to each other “where are we?”).

  29. Lark – can you just block his posts so they don’t show up in your feed?

    MN Nice is definitely a thing. I’m with LFB that you might as well be nice to people. You don’t have to act like their best friend, but you don’t need to be a jersey either.

  30. Ivy, New Englanders are VERY insular. That was a big shock to me when I moved to MA for college. My DH, who is from a working class town in CT, had never been on a plane until he was in college, and his only trip out of New England was a chess team trip to Louisville.

    New Englanders are also very, very, very family oriented. They tend to do everything in droves of relatives. That is true here in the NYC metro area too, once you get out of Manhattan and the 20 somethings who moved here from Iowa to make it big in theater or finance or whatever

  31. Re Bed size, I always had a queen when married, but I now enjoy having a king all to myself. I upsized in anticipation of sharing it occasionally with DD or the dog and wanting to have plenty of space (DD tends to toss & turn a lot).

  32. Handshakes only at work, minimum chit chat with cashiers, people in elevators, etc. However if you need directions or want to know the time, I am the person to ask apparently. I get stopped all the time. Not that I have answers, I must simply not look threatening.

    Super snuggly/kissy with DH and my boys. Other family members, maybe a hug. My family was not very affectionate while I was growing up and still aren’t. DH’s family is very affectionate, but dial it back a bit with me because they know I think its over the top.

  33. I have trouble going back to the Upper South, where some of my family still resides. After 30 years up here, I feel like everything is in slo-mo in the south. Did you know that researchers have found that NYers actually walk faster than people from any other part of the country? That is what would happen to me when I visited back home – I would be walking, and suddenly realize everyone else was half a mile behind.

  34. I’ll give hugs to family and close friends only, and only if I haven’t seen them in a while. So I’ll hug my brother when I come to visit and when I leave, but I can’t tell you the last time I hugged my mil who lives locally. For coworkers and business partners it is handshake only. We joke about this in the office because some people love to hug, and they know who to avoid. But if you go visit HQ out never WCE territory it is hugs galore. You can’t avoid it then.

    Regarding the gym – I have been going to the same small gym for almost 10 years, always at the same time of day. Over the course of time I’ve been pretty decent acquaintances with some of the regulars. To the point that we send cards/flowers to each other if one has surgery. It is motivating to go, because you know you’ll see Bob, Jill, and such and talk about sports or news. As it turns out I just discovered one of the regulars has a DD with the same medical issues as my DD and our friendship is now outside of the gym.

  35. Mooshi – I am a fast walker too. A good friend of mine grew up in NC – warm, friendly, genuine but, man, does she walk slowly and talk to EVERYONE forever. Its too much. Drives me nuts except in the rare times when I have no place to go and do not need to get something done.

  36. Fred – The question is whether she meant, good job, pops, or good job, dude.

    Older people are often lonely, so they like to take their time. Writing checks or fishing for small change are not just exasperating (to others) habits, but de facto human contact prolongation strategies. I rode the midday bus home from the subway yesterday, and the driver knew almost every elderly regular’s name and stop. He chatted me up for the first ten minutes since I was the only rider until we got to town center and picked up the morning errand runners on their way home.

    I think that those of us who are used to public Northeastern reserve/glare/myob really value the special kindness and friendliness shown by people who are so inclined. If we lived in an area with more routine use of social niceties it would be softer or warmer on a daily basis, but lack the same chance to get an extra boost from time to time. And when I was in grad school housing and met people from everywhere, I never did figure out midwestern nice. They were so pleasant and well behaved, but if you tried to have a conversation about anything important or personal, it was off limits. So the brusque Philly/NY/Northeast folks might not say hi when passing on the street, but if you had coffee with them after an hour you knew all sorts of fascinating stuff and could make a connection or not quickly.

  37. “on country roads, drivers will wave to those they pass as well”

    I remember that, and I encountered it again on some roads during our Route 66 trip a few years back.

    “The biggest regional difference I’ve noticed is the need to acknowledge people.”

    I’ve told this story before. When I moved to NY from TX, the first few months of commuting I had to restrain myself from wishing good morning to folks standing on the train station platform. It just seemed so odd that no one talked to each other.

  38. meme – probably (almost certainly) the former. still, likely to be the friendliest/nicest thing a stranger will say to me this week.

  39. Back when Starbucks first entered the NYC market, their service was s-l-o-w compared to other coffee shops. They’ve since picked up the pace a bit.

  40. When I was a very junior associate, a senior partner from another firm on my case kept kissing the top of my head every time we ran into each other. I wouldn’t have minded if it was the more typical air kiss. (He only kissed me, not the other female junior associate on our team who was 6″ taller.)

    As a native New Englander I expect that people who offer a greeting to strangers more involved than “hi” and a wave are probably con artists. DH- the New Yorker- subconsciously moves a hand over his wallet.

  41. I like New England reserve. I don’t always say hi to everyone when I walk into the office – I say “morning” to the doorman and the receptionist but don’t say hi to every person I go by who is already at their desk or in their office as I go down the hall to my office. And no way do I say hi to someone I don’t know in the elevator or in the hall! :)

    I cultivated resting b*tch face when I lived in NYC – otherwise everyone would ask me for directions. :)

  42. “That is what would happen to me when I visited back home – I would be walking, and suddenly realize everyone else was half a mile behind.”

    Hah — this is me, everywhere. Even NYC. Another area DH and I pair well in: he’s the only person I’ve met who naturally walks faster than I do. When we visited Chicago while dating, we explored the Magnificent Mile and suddenly found ourselves huffing and puffing — each of us sort of unconsciously sped up the pace to match the other’s, and before you knew it we were basically race-walking.

    DS, OTOH, inherited my dad’s putz gene. He just sort of ambles everywhere, no matter how hard he tries. I have spent most of his childhood afraid we will leave him behind, what with the ambling and the shorter legs — the rest of us are just so unconsciously fast that he’s a half-block back before we even notice.

  43. Oh – also my family doesn’t usually hug as much as DH’s. When we would go there to stay with his parents I’d have to hug them good night EVERY DAY or else they thought I was rude. I think my dad only hugged DH for the first time when we got married. ;)

  44. “As a native New Englander I expect that people who offer a greeting to strangers more involved than “hi” and a wave are probably con artists. DH- the New Yorker- subconsciously moves a hand over his wallet.”

    Laughing and yet totally agree.

  45. “I cultivated resting b*tch face when I lived in NYC “

    I developed the habit of using my rbf during my subway commute, and then put on my friendly face upon entering my office building. I still usually maintain my rbf for the subway. Especially with all the slashings lately . . .

  46. I’m w/ LfB – let’s all be friendly, but let’s not spend all day at it. Elevators, hallway, company kitchen – why NOT be friendly? I have become friends w/ several women at my company who work far from my office and with whom I cross paths in the kitchen and bathroom only.

    I am majorly huggy with DH, the kids, friends, extended family. Have I told you all about a couple we see a lot, and the wife kisses my DH on the lips all the time now? She started this about a year ago. It’s … maybe a little too friendly, no?

    We are a big “Love you” family and say it when one of us is leaving the house, at the end of pretty much every text exchange and at the end of every call. DS’s nanny introduced this habit to us 17 years ago and I am forever grateful to her for it. DS started saying “Love you” to a few of his friends years ago, as a joke, and they now all do it as a regular thing. I find it hilarious and lovely.

  47. “When I was a very junior associate, a senior partner from another firm on my case kept kissing the top of my head every time we ran into each other.”

    NFW. Really???

    When I was a mid-level associate, opposing counsel in one of our cases (an older solo practitioner) kept calling me “dear.” Every. single. time. I mean, I’m in Baltimore, I’m used to “hon” (applied equally to both genders and across all age groups), but “dear”? It was easy to write off as clueless old guy, but after a while I figured it was probably crafty old guy who was subtly putting me in my place in all of our professional interactions. So I started calling him “sweetie.”

    Didn’t take too long before he stopped.

  48. I wish we had a king sized bed. I would love the extra room. Something to put on our “to do” list.

  49. “When I was a very junior associate, a senior partner from another firm on my case kept kissing the top of my head every time we ran into each other”

    I’ve had this happen to me, too.

  50. OMG with the kissing on the head! I have had people refer to me as “the girl with…” but never ever EVER kissing in the workplace. Blechhhhhhhhhhh. Did you complain?

    OT, I had to spend 3 hrs in the hospital with a client yesterday. Please do your documents BEFORE you wind up in the hospital!!!!

  51. “We are a big “Love you” family”

    This is where prickly teens can be fun. DD loves to make a big deal out of running away from hugs, but then somehow always manages to delay just long enough to be caught. Both kids also adamantly *refuse* to be hugged in front of their friends (and calling out “love you!” is, of course, the WORST — which I learned in 6th grade, and which she still hasn’t forgiven me for). But she also races downstairs when I call out that I am leaving and won’t let me leave without the hug dance. And she clearly adores it when I send her happy kissy emojis and responds instantly. But I think her favorite is the “baby octopus hug,” which I think my brother invented — basically an index-finger wave, so you can say “love you” from across the room but without outing her to her friends.

  52. DH and I say “love you” at the end of every phone call. Even if the call is just “don’t forget to pick up yogurt” we say it. My coworkers laugh at me for it.

  53. I have a middle aged couple in my neighborhood who have no kids or dog. They take walks at different times of day arm in arm through my neighborhood. They will not only greet people but will stop for chats with those who are so inclined. We have all gotten used to this but some days it strikes me as most odd. The most talkative person I encountered in daily life in New England was a Starbucks Barrista. He was most definitely in the wrong region of the country.

  54. After Donald Trump tweeted yesterday “The people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley!”, she responded with:

    “@realDonaldTrump, Bless your heart”.

  55. The head-kissing is crazy. I’m called “dear” and “sweetheart” by one guy at work but he’s not in the kind of role where he needs to one up me, so I never take it that way. I think he may view me as a sister or something.

  56. Of course, when I do a midweek 1 1/2 hour hike through the nearby nature reserve, if I pass more than one bike and two people with dogs I feel like the place is getting crowded. The bike gets a nod and the on foot get a nod and the dog if if it hasn’t tried to knock me down a pleasant comment.

  57. Yes, I can block him, but I don’t really want him seeing posts where I am tagged by other people.

    That Nikki Haley tweet is huge in the news here, and if you read the comments by his supporters to the on-line articles about it, it is the very worst of humanity. It’s just so awful, I can’t believe people think such things, MUCH LESS write and say such things, and in a public forum too. I am taking this terrible election cycle to fill up my boys with as much love and grace and humility and perseverance as I can, as it’s the only way I see a way out of the hatred and bigotry enveloping us.

  58. Bed – King – He wears a cpap and the air it puts out is annoying and wakes me up when it hits me in the face. King has enough room for me to keep my distance. Pre-cpap I liked Queen better. Making and changing the bigger bed is a PITA.

    I make a point of taking a few minutes to talk to elderly people. I know how lonely they can be and unless it will make me late for something important, I’ll take a couple of minutes to chit chat. It always seems to brighten their day.

  59. I had missed the story about Nikki Haley’s tweet. LOVE it!

    I drove Jeeps for a long time, and there’s this thing called the Jeep Wave that Jeep drivers give each other. It’s like a secret club handshake.

  60. CoC, we hired a guy from NYC. At the end of week 1 he came into my office to ask what is up with people talking to him in the elevator. It seemed to make him jumpy.

    My favorite is the guy in my building who steps onto the elevator and doesn’t turn around. He just stands there facing all of us with a mildly pleasant look on his face. For some reason, this moves me to silent, shoulder-shaking laughter every time. If he catches my eye, I can’t hold it in. I find it to be a hilarious break from whatever I’m thinking about.

  61. After several weeks of daily head kissing I pointed it out to the partner supervising me, asking if he had noticed and if there was a polite way to end it.

    He said he would handle it and did.

    I assume the kisser’s interest in me was purely avuncular, because the combination of my then-youth and petite size really brought that out in some people.

  62. I gotta tell you, now that we are in our new all-glass fishbowl office, that the people who feel they must greet me as they walk by drive me BONKERS. It is so distracting. I cannot work in that office unless I put on the huge noise cancelling headphones and studiously look down

  63. MM – DH put up a fish shower curtain in his fishbowl office across one window wall. Co-workers enjoyed it. Management finally told him to remove it as it was “unprofessional”. After someone else put up a curtain, he asked if he could put his back. The response was no fish…he put up dinosaurs. No one said a word.

  64. when I moved to my office from a cubicle, people stopped coming by and saying hi, I miss it, but I like having an office

  65. I didn’t know what “Bless your heart” meant. I’m going to start using that expression.

    I’m trying to think of a comparable MN expression and all I can come up with is “that’s interesting” or “that’s different” for passive-aggressive disliking something.

  66. A related question to those who are partnered. How much personal space do you need for a good nights’ sleep?

    We have a king. I cannot sleep if someone is touching me and even in a queen it is hard to get enough space.

    But I thought the California King was longer, not wider?

    Yes it is. I don’t get why short people need it over a regular king.

  67. Queen size, and I actually sleep reversed — my head at the foot of the bed — because the CPAP disturbs me otherwise. I like king size when we have one in a hotel room but our bedroom wouldn’t be large enough.

    Medium touchy-feely. Hug parents/inlaws at the beginning and end of visits. Lots of in-family hugging — my oversized kids all still want a snuggly nightly bedtime visit from mom and dad. I don’t initiate work hugging but don’t flee it either.

    The head-kissing is weird! I never had that happen, even from the co-counsel who was rumored to have had sexual harassment issues with a female summer associate in his office (he set off major creep alarms for me and my work-friend although he never did anything you could really complain about). And I also was petite and young-looking as a baby lawyer. So I think Inappropriate Guy, Esq, was just REALLY socially obtuse.

    The thing I say to annoy a kid at dropoff is telling my oldest, “Have an A day!” He slams the car door at that one. “Have a good day, I love you!” doesn’t bother him but apparently he resents any suggestion that he should focus on academic success.

  68. We have a queen. I would love a king – I like to sleep when the room is cold with a ton of blankets and the giant body pillow and whenever DH crowds me I get too hot. Plus when he gets into bed at 4 am or later, I often wake up – bigger bed would help.

  69. Sky, did you have random guys at a bar or somewhere do that thing of grabbing you by the waist to move you aside or even picking you up, like you’re a little doll, when they wanted to pass by? Drove me nuts!

  70. Plus when he gets into bed at 4 am or later, I often wake up

    My husband gets up at 4 am (and I too often wake up).

  71. Louise – thank you! Love it!

    HM – I’m going to save the “Have an A Day!” for the future. Good stuff.

  72. On the shower curtain idea: my fishbowl, ahem, office, has so much glass that there is literally no place to attach anything. It is floor to ceiling glass on two sides. The glass has no pattern or anything to make other than clear glass. In fact, one of my terrors is that a student who has perhaps been partying too much might someday walk through that glass.

  73. And the photocopier is right across from me so every last person on the floor has to stop there and try to chat with me while waiting for copies. Ig the (pure glass) “door” is closed, then they smile and wave at me. Grrr. The problem is that we have too many non-New-Yorkers

  74. I love the Googly Eyes! One problem: it has been decreed that we are not to affix anything to a wall, solid or glass, unless officially approved and duly affixed by one of the physical plant workers.

  75. HM, nobody picked me up in bars :)

    Mooshi, I would get some large pieces of paper – like 24 x 36 – write something related to work on them, tape them on the windows at eye level, and leave them there until I retired.

    If you can’t do a flow chart or something, you could put up some non-inspirational quotes.

  76. I think I may have shared this before, but I didn’t talk to the cashiers when I first started to go to the supermarket in Tampa/St Pete. After a week, the cashier said, “if I ask how are you, please respond because I am going to see you all of the time”. I told her that I was a native NYer and the cashiers in Manhattan barely grunted at me. (this has changed IMHO). She totally understood and it made my life easier all over Tampa because I knew to be friendlier in public places. The same thing happened when I took over a group in Delaware. I didn’t say hi to people in the bathroom or cafeteria. One of the people that worked for me pulled me aside to let me know that I should say hello to everyone in the office.

    I definitely have the don’t “eff with me” look on the subway, but I will ask lost tourists if they need help. They are so grateful for the help and it just takes a minute because I still take subways through all 4 boroughs so I can help almost anyone that is taking the subway.

    I do go out of my way to say hello to people that work or clean in office buildings and schools where I work or volunteer. I make it a point to try to know all of the custodians and security guards at our schools by name.

    I do hate shaking hands or kissing because of my germ stuff. My DH always knows there is going to be a problem in a restaurant or Starbucks when someone rubs their nose or touches their mouth before they take my order. This happens ALL of the time. I can’t believe how frequently people that work in restaurants touch their faces. Another horror is the cashier that licks her fingers to open a grocery bag to bag my stuff. We don’t have self checkout at the main supermarket in town so I will try to grab and bag my own stuff.

  77. “I’m trying to think of a comparable MN expression and all I can come up with is “that’s interesting” or “that’s different” for passive-aggressive disliking something.”

    Oh yes. That is classic. “That’s different” being as aggressive as you get in MN Nice. if someone says, “That’s different” they REALLY hate it. “That’s interesting” has more subtle meanings, and sometimes actually means that one finds something interesting.

    “The slow walkers are bad enough but the slow talkers are the worst.”

    I have a client who talks very slowly, and I have to literally pinch myself or poke myself with a capped pen to keep from interrupting him & finishing his sentences when we are on the phone.

  78. I hate, hate, HATE being touched. Do not touch me unless we are sleeping together by choice. I will shake hands at work or social events, but I will recoil from hugs. Do not ever kiss me. Don’t stand in my space. I am really uncomfortable and will instinctively move back until I am pinned against the wall.

    I’ve often wondered about this. My Dad and I always shook hands. Mom got a kind of perfunctory side hug. My sisters and I do the side hug thingee. My son and I are a little closer, physically, but as he gets older, I find myself pulling away a bit. Breaking with my reserve, I tell my kid I love him each day.

    My wife and I were quite affectionate, but only in private. We walked hand in hand, and arm-in-arm, but that was about it.

    I do attribute this to my northeast/Midwestern upbringing.

  79. “it has been decreed that we are not to affix anything to a wall, solid or glass, unless officially approved and duly affixed by one of the physical plant workers.”

    So hang it from the ceiling.

    Or fill out Requisition Form 872-B, Request for Temporary Affixation, in triplicate, sign and initial where required, and then submit to Maintenance to go in the queue.

    Boy, even thinking of this makes me smile.

  80. And now all of the adds running down the side of my WaPo article are for googly eyes. . . .

  81. There was a “What Would You Do” scenario (TV show with hidden camera and absurd situations) where ice cream shop employees would lick and taste the ice cream before giving it to customers.

  82. Don’t stand in my space.

    Remember Seinfeld and the close talker? I used to work with one and he once cornered me between a wall and filling cabinet. I nearly had a panic attack.

  83. Milo, I once had an ice cream shop employee use her bare hands to scoop my thick milkshake out of the blender. She was very offended that I refused to drink it (or pay for it).

  84. Lauren said, I do go out of my way to say hello to people that work or clean in office buildings and schools where I work or volunteer. I make it a point to try to know all of the custodians and security guards at our schools by name.

    I may not have had the right social skills to get ahead with upper management or even to be anything but a sole contributor, but boy did the admin and physical plant staff take good care of me. My first husband always considered me very déclassé (spell check doesn’t like the full feminine ending, sorry Finn), and I guess he was right.

  85. Based on temperature as well as technical aptitude, I am married to a clone of LfB’s husband.

    One of my favorite Facebook posts is from an Iowa math camp friend who married a New Englander and now lives in NJ. Someone was tailgating him on a snowy/icy day, and he had to slam on the brakes and of course the car behind him almost rear-ended him. He looked in the rearview mirror and said, “That was not a good choice.” His wife wisecracked, “That’s Iowa road rage.”

  86. I have an appliance hijack question. My 8 year old Bosch dishwasher needs a minor repair. It is a standard heat sensor part that fails and the way it works less well plus the result when I run the diagnostics confirm that. I was thinking, just junk it and buy the fancier model with the third rack for silverware, but of course I can’t get a firm repair cost from anyone to figure out whether the repair is under 300 or not (my price point), and there is a non refundable fee for the house call (with a partial credit against a new one if you decide not to fix it and buy a new one from the same dealer). Advice, totebaggers?

  87. Meme – I’d wait for it to worsen and then just get a new one. The service call alone plus time and bother would not make it worth it IMO.

    I have the third rack for silverware in my dishwasher – most of the time I like it but loading it gets fussy.

  88. @Meme — junk it and buy a new one. You want it, you can afford it, and modern dishwashers have a crap lifespan anyway.

    On a related note, I am celebrating the joy of my oh-so-analog Blue Star range. I had lost three of the burners, so @2 weeks ago I took it apart and cleaned the holes where the gas comes through, checked the connections, etc., and then plugged it all back together. Two of the three came back and worked fine; I noticed the third had a cracked igniter, so DH went to their website and ordered a replacement. Unplug the existing one, plug in the new one, and in under 5 minutes, it was up and running (the hardest part was getting the one screw loose).

    It was nice to feel basically competent to fix something, ya know?

  89. After having several appliances fixed, $350 is the minimum I expect to spend.

  90. I have a trash compactor with a foot pedal connector that broke. The broken part seems to be part of the main frame. I’m hoping that the service call charge will be refunded if I purchase a new compactor. If not, I’ll probably just buy a new one when I see a sale. I can still open it with the handle, but the foot pedal is much more convenient.

  91. Rhett – that is a hoot. However, it should a qualified repair team 25 min to confirm the diagnosis and 15 minutes to fix as long as they bring the right part. 350 is okay too. My fear if I don’t repair this is that I will go to the showroom with my 50 dollar house call credit and let the salesman talk me into a package to replace the fridge and the range as well as choose a luxury dishwasher to rival my coffee maker, which is still (!) in the warranty repair shop.

    L, if you are reading, are you the one with the Miele? Would you go the extra for it versus the Bosch?

  92. Mémé, given the age of your dishwasher, I don’t think it’s worth paying to have it repaired. You’ve gotten your money’s worth, and it’s probably getting to the point where other problems are more likely to pop up if you get it fixed.

    My suggestion is to try the DIY fix, and if that doesn’t work, replace it.

  93. Mooshi, you might consider investing in a flip chart or dry erase board and an easel. Position it to block the view from the copier, without mounting anything on the glass, and then make sure to write some stuff on it that is relevant to your work.

  94. I hug with family and a few friends but I’m not a generally huggy person. I do the love you or a similar greeting/goodbye with every conversation with my DH. My Mom originally started saying “See you later alligator” with the grandkids who responded back with “After a while crocodile”. The grandkids are now teenagers and this has progressively been shortened to “alligator” “crocodile” and finally to just “crocodile”. It’s now something my whole family does. The Brits are not huggy people at all which suits me just fine.

  95. “I didn’t know what “Bless your heart” meant. I’m going to start using that expression.”

    I used Bless your heart twice this morning. First, to a young co-worker who texted me that she wouldn’t be in because she’d been up with the stomach bug all night. In this case, I meant “I am so sorry that happened to you! Stay in bed and get well!” Second, to my boss, who texted to say that he would not be in today, because he finally went to the doctor, and did, as I’d been telling him for 2 days, have the flu. In that case, it meant “you freakin’ idiot! Now you’ve gone and infected the whole office because you had to be a hero! Stay in your freakin’ bed until you are well!”

    It is a very handy expression. And they each knew exactly what I meant.

  96. “Bless your heart” was big when I lived in North Carolina in the 80s. So useful.

  97. Bless your heart… It reminds me of how my beloved USAir stews would use Sir and Ma’am. It could me “valued USAir customer” or “asshole” and you’d know which they meant by the tone and circumstance..

  98. “you’d know which they meant by the tone and circumstance..”

  99. Rhett, the self-checkout machines at Kroger always say “Welcome, Valued Customer!” when you run your card through the scanner, and I always think it means “Welcome, Privacy-Yielding Sucker!”

  100. @ Mooshi – I like Finn’s idea of the easel. Your workplace must have thought through the fact that they would get requests for cover ups of different sorts when they went to all glass – and decided against giving their employees privacy.
    At my workplace we have glassed walled conference rooms and offices but all those have frosted panels for privacy.

  101. I am reading Mooshi’s comment of “not affixing anything to the walls, solid or glass” – does this mean no taping random things like pictures, calendars, upcoming blood drive posters…?
    At my workplace some people’s workspaces are crowded with a ton of personal stuff….

  102. The only people that have ever said bless your heart to me in NY is someone begging for money on the street or subway.

  103. The story is tragic; I know someone that works for a firm that is one of the largest bondholders of Chesapeake, and they were joking that the portfolio manager cut his brake lines.

  104. Lauren,

    I’m fascinated by these types of stories. CHK is up 23.55% today on the news…apparently. I’m curious to see the time line – what was CHK’s situation when he was (allegedly) conspiring to steal all that money from OK farmers and ranchers?

  105. I have several friends who work at Chesapeake (and more who were laid off from there). He always treated his employees well. When my husband interviewed there, the 401k matched up to 15% of income. All of the links to the article coming through my FB feed express good feelings towards him, with no mention of the charges.

  106. LfB – I should try that the next time I have a busted igniter. Last time i couldn’t find one to order on the internet – where did you get yours?

    Meme – IIRC the last DW repair we got (Miele) was also around 350.

  107. Meme, sorry, missed your last question. This Miele was trouble before we got some part fixed – basically the first 2 years we had it kept having the same error – but after that it has worked really well. I loooooooooove the silverware drawer at the top – don’t know what I will do if we move to one with baskets! :)

  108. @WCE – I saw that article. They haven’t been able to open the gates and that is a very dangerous situation. We love to visit dams. The last dam we visited was in your part of the country – the Bonneville Dam with fish ladder.

  109. I actually used simple algebra yesterday in my private life to take gross receipts for a known number of products sold at 2 different price points to figure out how many were sold at each. This in reply to the Slate writer who says Algebra should be optional in high school.

  110. Meme – The writer didn’t say that simple algebra should be optional in high school. He said that Algebra I and Geometry were still necessary, but Advanced Algebra should be optional and potentially replaced with more numeracy/basic statistics based math for those not going into math-based studies. Or the 3rd class in the Unified Math series I suppose which is what we used at my high school. The kind of equation you used would be part of Algebra I, I think.

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