Q: When I attended a concert by a very famous singer, everyone was very excited, and as the artist took the stage, the audience rose, cheering and applauding.
Usually by the second song, the audience settles down and takes their seats, but not this particular crowd. By the fourth song, just about everyone was still standing. Shouts of “down in front!” started coming from the patrons in the rows behind my friend and me, and we immediately sat down.
Problem was, everyone in front of us remained on their feet. We sat for a bit, and then because we couldn’t see anything, we rose again, angering the people directly behind me, who started hurling insults and expletives.
I turned around and explained that I couldn’t see anything because everyone else remained standing. When I turned back toward the stage, someone behind me called me a fat pig and slapped the back of my head.
I threatened to have them arrested, but I did sit down. My friend, now out of spite, remained standing until everyone in front of us finally settled down when the artist did a slow song.
How could I have handled this better?
A: Having not responded to the threat of arrest, the people behind you demonstrated that they were immune to reason. This may be why they did not notice your problem with the people in front of you.
Miss Manners suggests gesturing toward those who are standing and blocking your view, and then getting out of the way and looking out for some official who might intervene, if not arrest them, if things turn more violent.
Q: A co-worker recently commented that she doesn’t feel she has to say thank you for a treat someone brings to the office if she doesn’t partake of it (and yes, I have brought treats to the office).
My feeling is that one says thank you anyway, perhaps adding an addendum, such as, “I’m allergic to/don’t like/try to avoid (chocolate, coffee, etc.), but it was nice of you to bring it to work and share it with everybody.”
Is saying thank you only for things one consumes a new rule, or have I simply been doing things the wrong way all my life?
A: Explanations as to why a gift is unacceptable, or even harmful, to the recipient should not be confused with politeness.
Miss Manners hopes that your co-worker would, if an unwelcome plate of cookies were handed to her, decline with a simple, “No, thank you.” Your co-worker is, however, relieved of any obligation to recognize a gift that is meant for many people, remains out of her reach, and of which she does not partake — a cake left unattended in the break room, for example.
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.