Q: The customer ahead of me still had groceries to be rung up, so I waited until her order was clear before placing my items on the conveyor belt. When the cashier began ringing up my items, a woman behind me began pushing my cart against me in order to get her items on every last inch of the conveyor belt. Finally, I said two things to her: “Stop pushing this cart against me. You’re old enough to know basic courtesy.”
She didn’t reply, but the assault stopped. In the same situation, how would Miss Manners have reacted?
A: Your success does not deter Miss Manners from deploring the way you achieved it. If she were not terminally polite, she would say to you, “Stop pushing people around. You’re (presumably) old enough to know basic courtesy.”
But she would never do so. Responding with rudeness only doubles the amount of rudeness being practiced. Also, it rarely works, which is why Miss Manners is surprised that you were not then rammed by the cart. It shows that your attacker had a sense of decorum and suggests that her offense was inadvertent.
At any rate, you should have treated it as such. “Excuse me, but your cart is pushing me” would have allowed even a deliberately rude person to retreat without further rudeness.
Q: I had a destination wedding back in November. We received various gifts from people who were invited (some who came and some who did not) and promptly sent out our thank-yous for that. Just last weekend, my in-laws threw us a “congratulations on your wedding” party with family and friends from the area, some of whom already had sent us gifts for our wedding.
Should I send thank-yous to everyone who attended the party, even the ones who didn’t bring a gift because they previously sent us one for the wedding itself?
A: The novelty of being able to tell a bride that she should write fewer letters of thanks has Miss Manners feeling giddy.
She is as sick of nagging derelict brides as are their mothers. (Don’t bother alerting her that she should have written “brides and bridegrooms, as are their parents.” Bridegrooms indeed share the responsibility, but unfortunately this seems still to be rare, and fathers’ involvement is practically unheard of, possibly because the un-thanked tend to blame the mother.)
Hosts do not need to thank their guests; a cheery “We’re delighted that you came” at the door is quite sufficient. And because many people know this, letters of thanks for attendance tend to be unpleasantly interpreted as meaning that something more was expected.
Q: When I am invited to a party at which a product is being sold, should I attend even if I know that I do not need any of the products? If I attend, am I obligated to purchase a product?
A: As this is a mixed social and commercial event — sort of like a program with advertisements — you have your choice. You can treat it as social and ignore the commercial aspect, or you can treat it as commercial and buy only if you really want to, as you would in a store. In neither case does this require making a purchase.
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.