When I was about two years old, my parents bestowed upon me the unfortunate nickname of “The Godmother.” Apparently I earned this title by bossing around all the other toddlers in our Houston neighborhood.

“No! No! No! No!” I’d say, shaking my pointer finger at them.

I’d love to report that “The Godmother” nickname eventually disappeared with time, but my mother rekindled the fire by repeating the story to Him when we were first dating. He likes to remind me of the name whenever he feels I’m being particularly bossy.

I’m sharing this embarrassing history in the spirit of embracing my many faults and — more importantly — so you have some context with a revolutionary new blog category, “The Godmother Says.” Through this category, I plan to deliver unsolicited advice concerning common courtesy whilst international hobo-ing. You probably won’t learn much from this feature. It’s basically just a medium for me to bitch. But, if you care to humor me, email any burning questions to thegodmother@compasswhistle.com. Otherwise, I’m just going to make up questions pertaining to whatever jackassery happens to irk me and pretend real readers came up with them.

My first question comes from Him of Jupiter, Fla.:

Dear Godmother,

While cooking breakfast this morning, this other hobo insisted on using the burner right next to mine — even though all the others were empty — and his toothpick girlfriend took up both sinks at once!  What gives?

That is a bummer, Him, but you must realize that many cultures don’t adhere to common American standards of personal space. To remedy this particular situation, try informing the couple that you require more space to cook and then politely request they move. If that doesn’t work, a sudden coughing fit should do nicely.

In the month and a half I’ve spent international hobo-ing, I’ve evolved into a sort of culinary manners expert. As such, below you will find my 10 Commandments of the Shared Kitchen (Hostel Owners: No need to request reproduction rights. I hereby grant permission to frame the following and hang it in your respective kitchen facilities).

1. I am the culinary manners expert. Thou shalt have no other culinary manners experts before me.

2. Thou shalt not leave dirty or wet dishes in the kitchen.

3. Thou shalt return all utensils, dishware, appliances and cooking implements to their original location.

4. Thou shalt clearly label and date all food.

5. Thou shalt be courteous to all other cooks and give them personal space.

6. Thou shalt not disparage others’ culinary catastrophes.

7. Thou shalt share leftover unprepared food with the “Free Food” shelf/box/bucket* and leftover prepared food with anyone eating packaged instant ramen noodles.

8. Thou shalt graciously accept any offers of prepared and unprepared food (you can always throw it away once the giver has left the kitchen or regift it to the “Free Food” shelf/box/bucket).

9. Thou shalt provide aid to struggling cooks.

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s culinary masterpieces.

* Always consult a shared kitchen’s fridge and Free Food shelf/box/bucket before stocking up at the grocery store. Departing travelers often leave behind perfectly edible food they can’t or don’t want to lug with them. Common items include various condiments, syrup, olive oil, butter, spices, pasta, coffee and tea. Any swig-able or perishable item should be considered on a case-by-case basis. It is also a good idea to take a mental survey of the kitchen’s available appliances to avoid purchasing ingredients for a meal you can’t actually make.