Because You Are Polite

by Ginger Philbrick

I’ve been spinning.

It is not the kind of spinning one does sitting atop an exercise bike at a fitness facility. It is a more personal kind that takes place when little mischief makers in your inner ear get out of balance. The result is an unsettling feeling of not being in charge of what direction your body is going to take you.

It is often only temporary and, although I have had bouts of it for over 40 years, they have rarely severely affected my lifestyle…thankfully.

You might think you have mistakenly begun reading a medical column, but there is a definite connection between vertigo and manners. As with any illness or condition that affects us, the way people react to us impacts our feeling of being cared about. And if we perceive others care about how we feel, we are more likely to improve.

In my recent situation, any event where I had to settle into a prone position was liable to bring on a whirling environment. The dental chair, the hairdresser’s shampoo sink, the x-ray, and the physician’s table all were part of my schedule and I was determined to continue with plans as best I could. By the way, I did not drive while woozy…so the public is not in danger there.

At each appointment, when I explained my condition and my concern about reclining too fast and thereby bringing on a sickening spin, I couldn’t have been met with more compassion. I was advised to go very slowly, that there was no reason to rush, and often the person attending me would share a story about their own vertigo experiences. There are a stunning number of us out there!!

For me, being able to continue with my lifestyle is dependent on others’ reaction to my needs. Their manners in the face of a potentially awkward or patience testing situation makes a difference. I suspect I am not different from many of you.

If you see a woman of honorable age, with glasses and short, highlighted hair listing slowly sideways toward the broccoli bin in the grocery store or holding tightly onto a lower shelf in the library while trying to pull a book from the very top one, she is likely to be me. I will be alright, but I would love a smile and a nod while I am recovering.   

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