Getting too close in the checkout line

04/15/2014 7:36 PM

04/15/2014 7:36 PM

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is a kind and yet firm comment that I can say to the person in line after me at the cash register who invariably comes and stands next to my elbow while I’m using my credit/debit card?

I wish to say, “Back off, lady,” or, “Would you please get your nose out of my business?” But I simply can’t confront people like that, and I know that it would be rude.


Take back your card and ask the cashier, “Is there any way we can cancel my transaction so this lady can go ahead of me? She appears to be in a hurry, and perhaps it’s important.”

Whether your interloper reacts with annoyance or proper embarrassment, Miss Manners assures you she will have taken a step back, during which time you may cancel your request and re-tender your payment.

Confusing appearance

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My daughter gets so upset when strangers call her baby girl a boy because she has very little hair. She is dressed in pink girly clothes.

What would be a good response to these people who are oblivious to what she is wearing?


Here’s one that your daughter will still be able to use (in a pleasant tone, Miss Manners hopes) in future years, when her daughter is wearing jeans and a boyfriend’s sweatshirt: “She’s a girl.”

No message, no return call

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was hoping for some clarity on how to handle returning phone calls in this age of caller ID. My feeling is when I receive a missed call from an unknown caller, I am under no obligation to return the call if they do not leave a message.

My husband claims that due to the prevalence of caller ID, the missed call and residual phone number are message enough. Of course, if a known family member or friend calls, I will return their call without hesitation. This is really only in regards to unknown phone numbers.


Not every missed call is important, particularly in these days of relatively inexpensive long-distance rates and cellular telephones that make accidental calls seemingly on their own.

It is Miss Manners’ conclusion that if a caller (even a known caller) does not leave a message, it is reasonable to assume it is because he or she had nothing — or at least nothing pressing — to say. Such non-calls may be returned or not at the receiver’s pleasure.

© Universal Uclick 4/16


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