Etiquette: The Bank of Life

Etiquette: The Bank of Life

This is an excerpt from Emily Post’s Etiquette, published in 1922. Please note that this book is available on Project Gutenberg, and is in the public domain. This passage can be summed up by the adage “you get out what you put in”.

Life, whether social or business, is a bank in which you deposit certain funds of character, intellect and heart; or other funds of egotism, hard-heartedness and unconcern; or deposit—nothing! And the bank honors your deposit, and no more. In other words, you can draw nothing out but what you have put in.

If your community is to give you admiration and honor, it is merely necessary to be admirable and honorable. The more you put in, the more will be paid out to you. It is too trite to put on paper! But it is astonishing, isn’t it, how many people who are depositing nothing whatever, expect to be paid in admiration and respect?

A man of really high position is always a great citizen first and above all. Otherwise he is a hollow puppet whether he is a millionaire or has scarcely a dime to bless himself with. In the same way, a woman’s social position that is built on sham, vanity, and selfishness, is like one of the buildings at an exposition; effective at first sight, but bound when slightly weather-beaten to show stucco and glue.

It would be very presumptuous to attempt to tell any man how to acquire the highest position in his community, especially as the answer is written in his heart, his intellect, his altruistic sympathy, and his ardent civic pride. A subject, however, that is not so serious or over-awing, and which can perhaps have directions written for it, is the lesser ambition of acquiring a social position.

Some food for thought on social position and entitlement within the community. You are only owed what you, yourself, deposit into the social bank.

Oh, and a huge shout out to Project Gutenberg. This repository of public domain publications is something every avid reader should bookmark.

A note on relevance:

What does Emily Post’s Etiquette have to do with BDSM? When I first got interested in BDSM (in general), and service-oriented, hierarchical relationships (in particular), I asked if there was a book (or books) that might help me understand protocols, that would help me hone my social skills to a level that would be acceptable within high(er) protocol settings. This is the book that was recommended by many. A book, written 50 years before my birth, with a non-kink targeted market, was the most recommended reading for understanding social etiquette.

Another note on relevance:

With the political climate as it currently is (with the election of Trump to the highest seat in the United States) and the cabinet picks who (with a few exceptions) have no interest in upholding the function and purpose of their respective seats … yeah, Karma’s a bitch!  His companies weren’t the only things bankrupt. His morality is in the red too.


See also (my writings on reciprocity within relationships):


From the archive. Originally posted on FetLife, 23 Mar 2015

Camille Beaujolie
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Camille Beaujolie

On-Air Personality at Stereo-Typed on TPOK Radio
Host of Stereo-Typed on TPOK Radio, an educational, research-based internet radio show/podcast that seeks to challenge beliefs about and within the Alternative Sexuality cultures. Contributor to the TPOK Monthly newsletter.
Camille Beaujolie
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