“There’s no Excuse for Rudeness. Period.” Big Patti

One of the values every child raised in the South learns at the foot of the family matriarch is good manners. Of particular importance to my mother, referred to in this blog as “Big Patti,” is the value of being polite. “There’s no excuse for rudeness, period,” one of her most cherished expressions and not one to be discarded with the feeble excuse of entering a new culture. Her thin-lipped rebuttal to my protests, ” You know how to read. Learn it, live it, do it. Your face might be the only one people see and equate with the United States.” My suggestion of wearing a Dolly Parton wig and mask was not met with so much as a curve of the lips. Suffice it to say, Spouse and I did our homework. He because he’s inherently a nice guy and would have done so regardless, and I being the yin to his yang, because I was guilted in to it.

One of the polite gestures is the “Return Gift,”or omiyagi. This is a gift one brings to friends and colleagues upon return from a vacation or trip. The Return Gift should be from the area where the trip occurred, preferably something for which the area is known, and as with all gifts, should be wrapped. Omiyagi is actually an apology for going away- in the workplace, for placing extra burden on others.

This has necessitated some adjustments to the Clampitt’s normal travel routines. All gifts must fit in carry on bags, as some of you know it’s against family rules to check bags. (Confessions of a Light Packer- read here) Estimated time of arrival at the airport required modification as these gifts are usually found at the departure destination’s gift shop. In the case of an airport, this has pushed the time back signifcantly as a healthy portion is already dedicated to the large chunk it takes me to get through security. 90% of the time I am separated from the other passengers for further screening and security check. The most entertaining to the Offspring being when I “failed” the “gas chamber” test at LAX due to “smell of butt gas” surrounding me mimicking that of bomb vapors. I relive this moment every time I exit the security line having witnessed the latest fad in security screening procedures, and find the Offspring laughing in the hallway, waiting to deliver the latest, hilarious round of fart jokes, I the ever constant butt of their jokes.

On our return from Hawaii, we found the perfect “Return Gift.”

These covered the main criteria- from the place we visited- Hawaii, and a local specialty- Dole, but not wrapped. This would have to do – I bought 6 boxes. We then proceeded to jam them in to every spare space much to the delight of the 3 women watching like vultures, one of whom volunteered to take whatever didn’t fit. They were disappointed.

On other trips within Japan, specific areas are dedicated to the purchase of “Return Gifts.”

Happo One, Nagano Japan

Yuki Pie from Mt. Naeba

So, who are the lucky recipients of these gifts? Sensei, Andretti-san, Spouse’s co-workers, Gobot, and the receptionists in the building lobby.  And a box or two for us.

Whether you’re sipping sweet tea or green tea, there’s no excuse for rudeness.

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38 Responses to “There’s no Excuse for Rudeness. Period.” Big Patti

  1. Tar-Buns says:

    Come now, the word for “return gift” in Japan is Omayagi (or some semblance of my phonetic spelling). I remember buying cartons of USA cigarettes, expensive liquor or stuff from Chicago and Michigan whenever I traveled. Had to have that omayagi for my boss, his boss, my helping family (s), friends, etc.

    Younger sister has had a major medical situation the past week, in Lansing, MI hospital until Fri. Brain mass. She’s home now, doing pretty good. U of M for consult on TH. Still much to learn. Praying.

    I had to come home to use internet and charge phone. Damn, forgot charger cord when I left Fri. The things we have to have anymore when no one has a land-line.

    Truly enjoy your blog; brings back memories. Gonbatte’ kudasai!


    • amblerangel says:

      Tar-buns- thanks for setting me straight- I remember reading that way back when but didn’t know there was a name. Am going in to edit NOW!
      I’m so sorry to hear about your sister. I’ll pray for her. Hang in there. I know long days are ahead.
      Glad you’re enjoying the read!


  2. DigitalSaga says:

    Hmmm….chocolate covered pineapple. It sounds interesting enough. How does it taste?


  3. judithhb says:

    Oh I think my mother would have loved Big Patti. Both she and my Grandma instilled in us – it costs nothing to be polite and your self respect to be rude.

    And I know that presents in Japan are cherished as much for the wrapping as the gift. So how did you get away with not wrapping your chocolates? I love receiving even a very small gift from my Japanese friend as I know how much time it must have taken her to wrap it. My attempts fall miserably short of hers, but she loves me anyway.


    • amblerangel says:

      Well- I didn’t. I’m just giving it unwrapped and will have to try to do better next time… I’m just the worst wrapper. Honestly right now I’m just barely staying afloat anyway!


  4. Lisa says:

    I carried the tradition of omiyagi back with me. It really is special, and there is always extra chocolate. 🙂


  5. I too was schooled in gift-giving–but, alas, as you know, not in the virtue of packing light and traveling with only what I can carry. You are too good, my friend!


  6. I agree with Big Patti, and am going to try her saying on the locals here. Will probably just get a “Huh?” in response, but maybe it’ll sink in. Has she got any other good ones?

    Chocolate covered pineapple? I love both, but had never thought it possible to combine the two. Learn something new every day! 🙂


  7. Love pineapple and chocolate so that looks like a very yummy combination. Interesting about having to bring gifts back, then again, here in the UK, whenever someone goes away at work, they always bring back something for the people in the office. Sweets, or biscuits (I mean what you guys call candy and cookies) so I suppose, it’s a similar thing. Never thought about it until now…


  8. comics. the sunday comics are always the best wrapping paper. i am serious, they show when and add a smile. they are also colorful.
    i guess this does not help you now, unless you can get american papers, back stocked, in japan.
    really, I SUCK at wrapping BUT with comics and or (tin) foil (You can crinkle it so mistakes do not show) I can always make people smile at a gift.

    I LOVE your blog by the way!


  9. “I the ever constant butt of their jokes.” Nice.


  10. Olga SE says:

    According to a journal article I’ve read about gift-giving in Japan (a very interesting one, by the way; if you want, I can send you a copy) the best present for the Japanese is food. I was surprised to learn that the same is true even about such big national holidays as New Year. Is it really so, Emily?


  11. Tori Nelson says:

    Omiyagi sounds so much classier than “trip goodies” my parents used to buy for EVERY PERSON WE EVER KNEW IN TENNESSEE every time we traveled. I would’ve taken a box of chocolate pineapple over a Daytona keychain anyday 🙂


    • amblerangel says:

      What was that restaurant along all highways that started with an “S” I always wanted to go in but my parents would NEVER stop in? I’m sure IT had great stuff. Not Shoney’s, Not Shakeys, but…. someone HELP ME REMEMBER??? Tori- do you remember that place?


  12. The Nose says:

    My favorite from Big Patti is “Never Leave Home without Putting On Your Lipstick First”. Followed for 20 years (nay 40 years) with “Are you ill? why aren’t you wearing your lipstick?” or “You Look Beautiful!!!” (translates- “Thank God she has her lipstick on”). Of course it came back to bite one of our own (The Tourist) in a big way when Big Patti spotted her throwing a cigarette out of her car window in high school. A budding CSI specialist, Big Patti retrieved said cigarette, and confronted the Tourist. The Smoking Gun???? The MATCHING LIPSTICK.


    • amblerangel says:

      Closely followed by “That’s how damn lies get started!” whenever we tried to relay important information regarding a close associate, co worker, or sorority sister of ill repute….


      • The nose says:

        Ah yes, the Damn Lies. Such fond memories we share!!! By passing on the “thin lips of disapproval” she inadvertently taught us to keep our mouths shut!!!

        Btw laughing my a– off about the sudden interests in ailing parents and real estate !!!

        The best food gift u sent us were those cookies that look like cigars but tasted like the best part of a pound cake. SO GOOD. I just found a small hoard offspring one hid in his room. I told him the cat must have eaten them.


      • amblerangel says:

        You’re off my distribution list since you cancelled your trip. So THERE….


    • The Tourist says:

      In addition, I remember her saying ” wear clean underwear everyday in case you have an accident(as in driving), you don’t want to be caught off guard”. She will deny this, but I remember it!!! I still deny the smoking incident to this day!!!


  13. sweffling says:

    Glad you had a good if exhausting trip and hope all is not too difficult on your return. Shame about the friends who have left, but hopefully they’ll be back soon. Thinking of you:)


  14. Dana says:

    Oh yum– now I’m craving pineapple AND chocolate. (And coconut, and macademia nuts, and mango, and a whole bunch of other things.) Thanks, Dole!

    I would suck at that gift-giving tradition, not so much at the giving part but at the WRAPPING part. I hate wrapping gifts with the fury of a thousand burning suns. (So lazy!)


  15. kasuross says:

    Yay, it is good to know what such ‘ a return gift’ is called in Japaneese :). It is also popular here but we have no certain name.

    Pineaple covered with chocolate, must be delicious. I received something like that from Hawaii too and it was one of the best ‘gifts’ I’ve ever eaten :). Do you like pineaples?


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