What is the etiquette around work-related calls after hours? How early or late is okay? - Crazy Caller, Wellington.
It depends on two things: The nature and urgency of you call, and the position of hierarchy in which you sit compared to the other person.
As a general rule, it's rude to call somebody before 8.30am, or after 5.00pm. It can be okay to call between 5.00pm and 5.30pm, but you must always preface it with, "So sorry to bother you after five o'clock..."
Unless somebody is expecting to hear from you and has requested you call them, calling after 5.30pm is bad form. Even if they are still at their desk, chances are they are trying to get away, and you're doing nothing but interrupt them. If it can wait until morning, it should wait until morning. The exceptions are obviously urgent messages, or things that person needs to know before a meeting that is being held first thing.
Where your message is urgent, you still need to be respectful of the personal time of others. Make sure what you have to say is urgent to them, not just urgent to you. While there are exceptions for different jobs and different industries, in a general corporate situation you can probably get away with these kind of calls up until about 9.30pm. If you're calling after 10pm, your call must only be to prevent a monumental screw-up that will affect a business' bottom line.
You should also consider where you sit on the corporate ladder before making after-hours phone calls. If you're the boss, you're obviously free to make after-hours calls to subordinates - just make sure these are infrequent and only when necessary. Do remember that calling your staff on their personal time will cause them stress and this will affect their working relationship with you - you'll have a much more effective workforce if you respect boundaries.
If you're an underling, you should think carefully about calling a superior when they're at home. It's highly, highly unlikely somebody way up the command chain will be happy to hear from you while Downton Abbey is on.
How do I tell people to take off their shoes when they come inside without sounding pedantic? - Dirt Duster, Wellington.
About five years ago I went to a party. It was at an apartment with wooden floors. Upon being asked to remove our shoes "for the sake of the neighbours downstairs", the friend I came with looked at me with a terribly sad face. He exclaimed, "But this is an ensemble!" whilst humorously flushing his jazz hands down his body.
The real problem was actually that underneath his designer black boots was not a simple black woollen sock, but a pair of white tubes like you'd see on a 7-year-old soccer player. Cue carefully-selected outfit ruined.
If you have a good reason - like noisy wooden floors and neighbours you want to respect - go ahead and say so. If it's merely a dirt problem, you could unethically lie and say you (or your kids) have allergies or a poor immune system and dirt can make you ill. Unless this is the truth, though, it's probably not the best way forward.
Just be honest, and say your floors are a nightmare to clean when politely asking. Or, invite a guest's entrance with a phrase such as, "Do come in, you can put your shoes over here". Here, you're masking your discouraging request with positive incitement.
If they don't take the hint, and you have no real reason other than your floors getting a little soiled, just leave them be and pull out the vacuum as soon as they leave. Some pedanticism should remain behind closed doors.
Is it okay to get angry with old people's driving? - Grey Grinch, Auckland.
Is it ever advised to get angry at what others do behind the wheel? It doesn't lead to safer driving environments: Once you're hot-headed because somebody else has done something stupid on the roads, it's likely you'll do something stupid yourself, just to get away from them.
This is when we see people swerve out of the flow of traffic, cross onto the wrong side of the lines, speed, and take their eyes of the road to yell profanities out their window (and take their hands off the wheel to give the middle finger). Not one of these things is safe or good driving form.
We can only assume you get angry at older folks because sometimes they drive slower than you do. Sometimes they leave their indicator on, sometimes they don't indicate at all. Stereotypical as it is, I get it. Cognitive function does deteriorate with age, and if an older person is behind the wheel they are probably aware of that, and making an effort to be as safe as possible.
Next time you get angry, just remember that part of being on the road is accepting and respecting everybody else on that road. If you have a major problem with this, I'd advise you start taking the train.