Sunday, July 21, 2024
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Because You Are Polite

by Ginger Philbrick

Dear Teen,

This is the second in a series of columns I have wanted to address specifically to you so that you will be comfortable as you find yourself in more and more social situations where your parents aren’t there to nudge you into doing the right things, and you are solely responsible for not looking like a loser.

It is a time that can be both exciting and anxiety producing. I hope you will stay with me because I know what I am going to share can change things in a good way.

I think that starting at the top is a good approach, so here is some info and guidance regarding hats, specifically ball caps.

The ball, or baseball, cap was first worn by the New York Knickerbockers team in the 1850s. Imagine, your ball cap—meaning it has a crown and a visor—is over 170 years old. No wonder you love it so; it is an American treasure. When you wear it in the traditional visor-in-the-front fashion you get to announce your interest in whatever team, school, business or group you like (I treasure my Red Sox cap, for instance), and  your Mom is glad you are shielding your eyes, and even nose,  from sun damage.

Wearing a cap backwards is another story. Doing so was most likely made popular by catchers who turned their caps around because that prevented the visor from getting in the way of  their face shields. The style was quickly adopted by other athletes and hip-hop artists. It sometimes has a smaller logo that is difficult to read, and it definitely does not protect your eyes and nose.  However, people can see your great face better and it is considered cool in some circles.

There is no rule of manners about how to wear the cap, as long as you are comfortable and you can see well enough to recognize oncoming danger!

However, there are rules, or etiquette, about where to wear those ballcaps. No matter how handsome or beautiful you or your cap is, your head should be cap free when in a:

• Restaurant.

• Place of worship.

• Home.

• Store—except in the halls of a mall.

• Elevator.

• Public building i.e. schoolroom, library courthouse or town hall.

• Theater.


• When the National Anthem is being played or sung, or the flag passes by.

• When you are being introduced.

Summary: A polite person only wears his or her cap outside or at a sporting event (either inside or outside), except during the National Anthem.

You may be confused about where to put your cap once it is off its usual perch.  Look for a hat rack and, if none, place the cap under your chair, fold it and tuck it under your leg, hang it on a knob on the back of your chair, or tuck it in your pocket. If none of these places seem advisable, place it in your lap. 

If you are worried that removing your hat will expose unsightly “hat hair,” it is acceptable to once or twice comb-through your hair with your fingers. Use of a real comb is both rude and unsanitary—flying hair, you know.

By now, you may be asking, “What difference does it make where I wear my ball cap?”

The answer is “respect.”  Uncovering your head has been accepted as a sign of giving respect since the knights of old took off their helmets to bow to their king and queen, Today, though they may not tell you, most people we care about notice our actions and can’t help but like it when we show we respect them.

Hats off to you for caring!

Ginger Philbrick is the owner of Because You Are Polite LLC. You are invited to email your manners questions to her and she will respond as time and space allow. You may contact her at

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