Advice Columns

Miss Manners: There are no rules about who gets to use the drive-thru

Q: Many of us who use drive-thrus regularly are often on our way to work. Unfortunately, we often end up behind someone who has placed an order for at least a dozen people. This situation tends to defeat the purpose of the drive-thru and renders the term “fast food” an oxymoron.

People who need to feed a whole lot of people and don’t have time to cook should go to a supermarket delicatessen. They will probably save money that way, and the rest of us will save time. Please help me get my message out to the public.

A: And what would that message be? No fast food for parties over four? Or six? It is always frustrating to be delayed in line, especially when there is a promise of speed right there in the name. (But then again, so is the word “food,” and Miss Manners would not presume to regulate that notion, either.)

Unfortunately, one can’t make specific decrees as to the size and quality of a party who is only asking for their own right to the same service as you. Or make recommendations as to how they would be better served.

Q: I’m 63. My wife is 53. We’ve been married for 25 years. I often get “funny” comments about our age difference, like “Oh, Darlene (my wife), who’s the old guy with you? Ha ha.”

I’m still young-looking. I often get comments that I don’t look my age. I’m 5-foot-11 and weigh 185 pounds. I run half-marathons. So I’m in good shape. Please, how do I respond to such harsh comments?

A: “Darlene?! Are you seeing an older man?”

Q: A friend sneezed in my direction at dinner, with my plate of food in the target zone. Although he apologized, I was horrified about eating the food but also did not want to embarrass him or make him feel bad.

I ate it, rather than ask for a replacement. (Yuck!) What would have been a polite way to avoid consuming his germs?

A: Yuck indeed. Miss Manners commends your valiancy — and iron stomach. Your reaction goes beyond any reasonable expectation of good manners.

But she agrees that it would be difficult to come up with an excuse for asking for the food to be replaced without embarrassing your friend. It would have been polite for your friend to have done so on your behalf.

In lieu of that, however, you could have discreetly stopped eating and politely eschewed any questions as to why — or said that you yourself weren’t feeling well. Surely not an inaccurate statement, given the circumstances.

Q: Is it ever proper to ask who else will be attending a party?

A: Not before accepting the invitation. That would be tantamount to asking whether it would be worth one’s while to attend.

But afterward, Miss Manners can offer you the excuse of wanting to know if there is anyone attending who might want — or offer — a ride.

Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

10/22

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