Uber and Lyft etiquette

As urban dwellers, many New Eastsiders use ride sharing apps Uber and Lyft to get around. Technology has equipped us with the ability to connect with our own personal drivers at the touch of a button. Here we highlight the do’s and don’ts of ridesharing.

MISCHAELA3-011. Be polite.

You’re not a foreign diplomat; you’re just trying to get to Dunkin Donuts.
Your Uber or Lyft driver isn’t your chauffer, and he or she certainly isn’t your servant. Many people have never had a driver, so when robbed of the commercial feel of the yellow taxi cab and sitting in a plush SUV, they tend to let their inner Daddy Warbucks fly.

It’s proper etiquette to treat your Uber or Lyft driver as you would an acquaintance or colleague giving you a lift. Don’t bark orders such as “Left here. Slow down. Right at the light.” A gentler, friendlier tone is appropriate.

2. It’s not weird to say “thank you.”

It’s actually much weirder not to. For some reason, people tend to forget to thank their Uber or Lyft drivers because they were paying them to perform the service. This is poor etiquette, and wars have started over lesser indiscretions.

Although you are paying for your Uber or Lyft driver to get you to your destination, that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a kind and genuine “thank you.” They opened up their Ford Explorer to you and allowed you to sit in the back seat and hum along to Journey without judging you. Your friends don’t even do that – well, not without judging!

3. Don’t open food or beverages in their car. This isn’t a Cubs game.chauffeur-clipart-chauffeur01

Although it’s right as rain to tuck into a soda and hotdog at a Cubs game, you shouldn’t be eating or drinking in your Uber or Lyft driver’s car. Even if they say it’s OK (and you shouldn’t be asking), a core part of etiquette is thinking about those who will get into the car after you.

While we’re on this tangent, though, please refrain from doing anything you’d do at a Cubs game in your Uber or Lyft.

4. Help them help you.

One of the cardinal rules of Uber and Lyft etiquette is to put the push pin where you truly are. This isn’t the time to get creative or indicate where you spiritually, metaphorically or ironically are. Push the pin or type in the address to inform your driver exactly where you’ll be. Then – and this part is critical – be at that place.

Mischaela Advani is an etiquette expert and founder of Cygnet & Spade — an etiquette, image, and branding consultancy. As a child, she was fascinated by the work of Emily Post and the proper names of flatware, cutlery, and glassware. She has been taught by etiquette and protocol experts formerly employed by the Household of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in American, British, and International etiquette. Mischaela resides in New Eastside with her husband and their English Bulldog.

How to drink like a pro at a business dinner

Business dinners can be pretty nerve-wracking. In addition to stressing about how to sound clever in the conversation, you worry about basic things such as what to wear or what drink to order.

You’re on your own when it comes to what to wear. However, I’m pretty firm on not going with penny loafers containing actual pennies unless they were issued in the year of your birth. Call me strict.

Here’s the skinny on drinking wisely and appropriately when dining on the job.

MISCHAELA3-01Never go with the most expensive beverage, but don’t go with the cheapest either.

The safe bet drink choice is neither a cheap domestic beer nor a preposterously expensive glass of wine or scotch. You aim to impress, but not alienate. Something down to earth but with quiet refinement is best.

Never outspend your boss or the guest.

It’s proper business etiquette not to order more extravagantly than your boss, his or her boss, or the guest of honor. This is a quiet way of communicating your respect for them and for the time and effort they’ve put into getting where they are. Cheers to that.

Know the customs of your company.

I don’t mean your company as in your firm. I mean, know who is in your party and their prevailing culture. If you have business associates or clients who are from Sweden, take the time to Google how to do a proper Swedish toast. If you are drinking with Germans, it’s a great compliment to them to say “Prost!” while clinking glasses.

The most important reason we practice etiquette is to show care and consideration to those around us. By observing the rules of etiquette with your dining companions, you are communicating: “I care that you are having a good time and want to share in your culture with you out of respect and in the spirit of camaraderie.”

DRINK001a-01Don’t try to be the hero.

Just because you can drink like a sailor just docked for the evening, doesn’t mean you should – unless, of course, your firm is the Navy and you actually are sailors docked for the evening. Don’t try to be the showoff and drink like a fish. Everyone is here to conduct business and enjoy each other’s company.

No one wants to see you sloppy drunk and forgetting everyone’s name and title.

If high jinks ensue, take the high road but not on your high horse.

Drinking games may be common in the country where you’re doing business or among the guests you’re dining with. Drink and be sociable, but don’t drink beyond sobriety. A good rule of thumb is to take the high road and avoid any antics. But don’t take that high road on your high horse and pass judgment or chastise others for having fun.

Mischaela Advani is an etiquette expert and founder of Cygnet & Spade — an etiquette, image, and branding consultancy. As a child, she was fascinated by the work of Emily Post and the proper names of flatware, cutlery, and glassware. She has been taught by etiquette and protocol experts formerly employed by the Household of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in American, British, and International etiquette. Mischaela resides in New Eastside with her husband and their English Bulldog.

Frequent fireworks, wonderment fizzles

It’s painful to admit, but living in Lakeshore East for eight years has made me a bit jaded about fireworks. “Oh, are there fireworks? It must be a Wednesday.” The ubiquitous nature of the spectacle has dulled its impact. But last summer I found a way to make them fun again.

Navy Pier fireworks

I still remember my very first fireworks extravaganza: Fourth of July in Fort Benning, Georgia. I was six years-old, and I stared at the sky with my mouth open, shouting gleefully every time one of those fireworks sent its lazy tendrils look like a weeping willow tree back towards the earth. Sure, I had a sore neck and an eye full of ash, but I didn’t care. This was the greatest invention of all time. I would never get bored with fireworks; I just wished I could see them more often.

Flash forward 40 years. I am now living my childhood fantasy, and it has become part of the background. For a time, I enjoyed watching the fireworks reflected in the glass of the buildings across the river, and it meant I could watch the show without fighting the spiders on my balcony. But lately, I’ve felt like a curmudgeon, unable to take pleasure in an event whose sole purpose is to entertain.

But wait! All of that changed when I decided to partake in a firework cruise. There are probably many such cruises, but this one was part of the incredibly worthwhile “Jazzin’ at the Shedd” event. The boat took off into the dark waters of Lake Michigan and came to rest near the lighthouse by Navy Pier.

When the fireworks began exploding all around us, the boat was under a beautifully colored siege. That alone brought a few gasps of wonder, but what really sold the moment, and brought back a sense of childhood awe, was seeing the lights of mighty Chicago framing this pyrotechnic spectacular. All these years, I’ve been staring out at the lake, taking for granted what I see every day. I just needed a change of perspective.

Matthew Reiss, Community Contributor

Opinion: plastic bag ban stifles consumer choice

Returning to O’Hare from a recent trip to St. Louis, I expected to be stopped by the authorities any second. You see, I had contraband in my carryon. Small, lightweight, and folded inside one another, the items in question are no longer available at Target, CVS, or the Lakeshore East Mariano’s. This is why I feel the need to replenish my stockpile, gathering up lightweight, single-use plastic bags from the pile kept by my mother in her suburban garage.

As I unpacked my suitcase and placed a single-use plastic bag in the small trash can, I was reminded yet again just how ill-conceived Chicago’s now seven-month-old plastic bag ban seems to be.

Put forth as a bill by Ald. Joe Moreno and passed by a 36-10 vote in the city council, the law went into effect August 1, 2015, forbidding chain stores of 10,000 square feet or more from doling out single-use plastic bags. Smaller chain stores have until August 2016 to phase them out; small businesses and restaurants are exempt. Chicago is one of more than 100 U.S. cities to have banned the bags in recent years, in hopes of encouraging consumers to adopt reusable bags.

recycle-symbolNot only does this ban appear to be riddled with confusion, it infringes on the rights of businesses and consumers to choose how to transport their goods. This ban might also literally be making us sick to our stomachs. According to studies by Loma Linda University and the University of Arizona, reusable bags tested positive for E. coli, salmonella, and coliform bacteria. The largest problem comes from cross-contamination. By reusing a bag without sanitizing it between uses, which the studies found 97% of consumers do not do, foods are allowed to contaminate the bag which then cross-contaminates the next purchase. It is recommended that meat purchases be bagged separately in-you guessed it-plastic, before being placed into the reusable bags. Sanitizing reusable bags with chlorine bleach and regularly washing them in a washing machine, making sure they are thoroughly dried, is the best way to fight the bacteria.

Another aspect that’s galling about throwing plastic bags under the bus is that the light, strong, waterproof bags are so useful. Many consumers reuse plastic bags for other purposes, such as containing sweaty gym clothes, packing shoes in luggage, and picking up dog waste, to name just a few.

In the scheme of problems, plastic bags do not rank among the largest concerns that the city faces. Seven months into the ban, a post-bag society doesn’t seem that far off. A trip to Whole Foods, where I had purchased a half-dozen items without a reusable bag, found me facing the question, “Do you need a bag today?”

Oh, Chute

Trash talking is usually associated with sports players trading insults. The term takes on a new meaning when it comes to high-rise living. Some of the most common complaints I hear among my neighbors have to do with actual garbage.

Whether it’s the garbage chute, the garbage room, or rules and regulations surrounding garbage, there’s much ado about refuse.

We all know that living in a multi-story building has its ups and downs. As with many things in life, our inherent human nature is responsible for most of the complications. People can be selfish, lazy, sloppy, misinformed, inconsiderate, or just plain stupid. Particularly after the holidays, the desire to dispose of decorations, wrappings, and packaging can magnify these traits. Here is a sampling of what I have observed, which many New Eastside residents might find all too familiar.

Locked chutes. At one time or another, residents have experienced the disappointment of seeing the red light on their floor’s trash chute and the door stubbornly shut. Facing a crossroads, the options are to: either wait for the light to go off or drop the bags and flee, which leads to…

IMG_2562dTrash on the floor. In nine cases out of ten, the result of locked chutes. Management posts signs reading, “Please don’t leave garbage on the floor of the garbage chute room,” in hopes of deterring bad behavior. In buildings where the recycling and trash rooms are separate, bags full of recyclables wind up in trash rooms. Whether residents are unaware of their buildings’ recycling facilities or optimistic souls who believe in the existence of a trash fairy remains a topic for debate.

Putting large items down the chute. Pizza boxes, wads of hangers, and down comforters are known to cause clogged chutes. Other items boggle the mind. In one memorable instance, a box spring mattress was disassembled and thrown down the Aqua’s chute. Bemusement over who could do such a thing quickly turned to frustration, once it was learned that the chute would be non-operational for the two weeks (during Thanskgiving) that it would take to clear the blockage, order replacement parts, and complete the repairs. Building maintenance worked overtime, collecting garbage from each floor’s trash room.  While this story gets more exaggerated with each telling, the moral remains: when in doubt, consult your building’s management office. Other resources, such as Salvation Army monthly pickups and My Storage Suite services, can also help ensure communal harmony.

— Shanti Nagarkatti | Community Contributor

Path to happiness

Happiness is the way

By Ainsworth Thompson | Community Contributor

AinsFor many years I battled with myself about what makes me really happy and exactly what happiness is.  To me it seemed that happiness is the main objective of our existence on earth.

When I experience happiness it’s like I am achieving my purpose for being here. A bright and humble energy is emitted from my being, and I gravitate toward situations of peace, love and deeper understanding. My thoughts are clear and I feel balance in all facets of my life.  I envision my future with great optimism – free from fear and worry – and I view my life as glorious, successful, and free. As long as I maintain this state of existence, it seems as if I am achieving my life objective.

For many years I thought that I needed an external stimulus such as a great job, a fancy car or lots of friends to achieve this state of mind. Now I realize that happiness exists within me and I can feel happy all the time by changing the way I think about life.

It became clear to me that whatever I emitted from the inside would manifest itself on the outside. It was not the external stimulus that made me happy. Therefore, I try to maintain a happy state of mind by feeling good about myself and showing compassion to others.

Happiness is a state of existence that can be maintained by simply removing negative thoughts, words and actions from your life and replacing them with positive ones. Practice this and you will live a happy, prosperous, loving and fulfilling life.  In the words of the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn, “There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.”

The dangers of crossing Lake Shore Drive on foot

By Jon Cohn | Community Contributor

When you try to cross Lake Shore Drive (LSD) on foot at Monroe St., Jackson Blvd. or Congress Pkwy., the long wait at the light for your turn makes you feel a combination of anxious excitement and breathless anticipation.

Finally when it is your turn, the nerves and the rapid heartbeat of excitement while traversing LSD lies somewhere between jumping from an airplane at 10,000 feet and riding a motorcycle.  Weaving in and out of impatient pedestrians, while battling through crowds, makes the relief and exhilaration of finally getting to the other side almost tangible. It’s like a feeling of true accomplishment.

I spent some time at a few of these busy intersections recently on a particularly crowded weekend. Here is a sampling of what I saw, which many of our New Eastside residents are all too familiar with:


What I miss about the New Eastside

By Ophelia Dodds | IMG_1189Community Contributor

Having recently moved back to England after a very happy four years in the New Eastside, my editor asked me to describe what I missed most about our wonderful neighborhood. My first thought was the easy access to wonderful theatres and restaurants. My second was Mariano’s, Millennium Park, the Crown Fountain, and the beautiful Lakeshore East Park.

However, when I paused to think, I realized that what really miss are the people of Lakeshore East. There is a well-known saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” believed to be an old African proverb. Nowhere is this more obvious than in New Eastside.

I trusted our doormen to look after my daughter while I was collecting a bike or bringing a car round or hailing a cab. I trusted the other mothers in the park to make sure she was behaving and to hug her if she was hurt. We knew the people (and dogs) in the elevator that we met each day, and these meetings taught my daughter how to interact politely with adults. This village of ours has educated and nurtured my daughter, and for that I will be forever grateful.

Much of Chicago doesn’t even know that the New Eastside exists as a neighborhood as we know it. For those who choose to live here, there are a variety of reasons for that choice such as the convenient downtown location with access to restaurants, theaters and shopping in addition to its proximity to Lake Michigan and all its beauty. But why do we stay? All of those reasons still count, but we stay for the people and the community.

We were all outraged at the theft of the pumpkins from the pumpkin patch. We all come together to bemoan drag racing around the park, noise pollution from parties and other community issues. We stick together and we care about where we live.

So what do I miss most? I miss the glint of sun on the lake in the morning. I miss chatting to my doormen. I miss Mariano’s grocery store and their amazing selection of fresh fruit and vegetables. I miss the fireworks over the lake. I miss chatting to my neighbors in the elevator. I miss petting dogs in the park. I miss the beautiful sunsets. I miss Sunday movie morning at the AMC River East with friends. I miss our community.

I miss the extraordinary things about Lakeshore East. But most of all… I miss the ordinary things.

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