Snopocalypse and Etiquette

It’s snopocalypse in Seattle! It started snowing yesterday and didn’t stop until late last night. True, we only got 2 to 4 inches, but it was enough to cause mayhem in the evening and now morning commute. Those of you who live in colder weather areas probably think we’re crazy that a little snow is such a big deal. But Seattle doesn’t usually get snow, or at least not this much in November so we’re ill equipped for it.

Perhaps because we rarely get much snow, many people are not aware of the unspoken rule that you need to shovel your sidewalk so that your neighbors can easily walk on the sidewalk. Now I admit I didn’t know this is something you’re supposed to do until I married my east-coast-raised husband. He was up at 6am this morning because he was worried about getting the walk shoveled for our neighbors attempting to walk to the bus or walk their dog. See the picture below.

In the east coast, it’s a rare person who doesn’t know this unspoken rule. I was thinking that etiquette is often unspoken rules like this that we learn from observing our parents, our friends, our neighbors, our coworkers. For instance, I don’t remember ever being told one must not cut in line, but I know it and everyone else seems to know this. I also was never told not to talk loudly in your work cubicle, but again, I know it. Eric, said walk shoveler husband, shared another unspoken rule, that you should hold the door open for people.

Those unspoken rules are what etiquette is all about. As Eric said, “common sense” but as someone else once said to me “common sense isn’t so common.” If we haven’t experienced or observed people practicing these rules we often don’t know. Just like I didn’t know one must shovel their walkway in a snopocalypse.

Happy shoveling Seattleites.

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Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>


  1. Beth Buelow, ACC, The Introvert Entrepreneur on November 23, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    Wow, you got a lot more snow than we did just 35 miles south! That’s quite an impressive scene. I appreciate your bringing this up, Arden. When my husband and I bought our first home 8 years ago, we felt like there must be a secret manual somewhere that everyone had but us. We figured things out, but there seemed to be lots of unspoken rules and expectations. I think that’s true in workplaces as well, and has probably led to many a disenchanted and confused employee. And don’t get me started on the unspoken rules encountered at the in-laws’ house, LOL!

    Your post is a great reminder to be compassionate with ourselves and others, and to remember that not everyone knows what we know. When in doubt, hold the door open. 🙂

  2. Arden Clise on November 24, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Ha, yes the unspoken rules at the in-laws, that’s a whole subject unto itself!

    I would also add there are many unspoken rules as a busines owner. Still figuring all those out as well. Keeps it interesting doesn’t it?!

  3. Carole on November 30, 2010 at 1:51 pm


    That word describes the Seattle snow scene better than any other diatribe I have ever read. Perfectly to the point.

    I love it! I love your column!

  4. Arden Clise on November 30, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Thanks Carole! I have to be honest and state that I did not coin the term snopocalypse, the media did, of course.

    Thank you for being a reader, I love your comments!

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