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Wednesday WTF: VANOC tells you to sit up straight, stop fidgeting

Graham F. Scott

City of Vancouver tells you how to shake hands.

City of Vancouver tells you how to shake hands.

The Olympic madness just keeps on rolling in Vancouver. It was just two weeks ago that the Vancouver Public Library was sending out helpful reminders to confiscate guest-speakers’ Telus jackets and cover Sony logos with electrical tape. But now the micromanagement has exploded to a whole new level.

Vancouver city officials this week issued a 140-page “protocol manual” for volunteers who will be interacting with foreign dignitaries during the Games. If you are a brainless incompetent who doesn’t know how to smile sincerely, stand up straight, or hold a mid-level diplomat’s umbrella properly, then this is your lucky day! CityCaucus.com originally got their paws on a copy of the guide and wrote it up, and there are some snippets of advice that are pure gold.

How to smile!

A smile denotes warmth, openness, and friendliness. Smile “gently” and with sincerity. Be careful not to overdo it. False smiles can look artificial, and never-ending smiles may invite suspicion.

Stop fidgeting!

Minimize your use of hand gestures. Using your hands to emphasize a point is fine, but overdoing it can be perceived as being too excitable or dramatic.

Avoid playing with your hair, tie, or jewelry, biting your lip, drumming fingers, unconsciously snapping the clip on a ball-point pen, and jiggling coins or keys in your pocket.

Dress to impress!

It is important to wear clothing that fits properly. Never dress in clothes that are too tight, they may make a slim person look gaunt and a large person look heavier. […] Avoid wearing short socks. If they are too short, they may show bare leg when you sit down. Wear knee-high socks or stockings that reach above the calf. Socks should match pant colour. […]  Do your [suits] have razor sharp creases all the time? Do they fit properly? If not, have them tailored. The extra expense is worth it for the increased respect your impeccable appearance earns you. Do you keep an extra [suit] within easy reach? You never know when an accident will dirty our uniforms.

… And it goes on like this, for 140 pages. Lean forward to show interest. Make eye contact but don’t stare. Wipe that creepy rictus grin off your face. Don’t tug on Barack Obama’s sleeve, or the snipers will instantly shoot you.

City hall belatedly posted the PDF of the guide online, so you can gaze into the dark heart of etiquette-insanity yourself. Now stop jangling your keys! Jack Rogge will be here any minute!

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