Sis­ter goes out to so­cial­ize, flout­ing stay-at-home or­der

Orlando Sentinel - - Local & State -

dire and im­mi­nent threats — they are not a li­cense to ha­rangue pass­ing strangers about their bad habits.

Dear Miss Man­ners: I was sit­ting in a gov­ern­ment of­fice’s wait­ing room and a child sneezed sev­eral times with­out cov­er­ing her mouth. Her par­ents did not re­mind her to sneeze into a tis­sue or her sleeve. I was frozen be­tween not want­ing to be rude by chastis­ing strangers and fear­ing that I might catch a dis­ease, so I said noth­ing.

What po­lite thing can I say to re­mind peo­ple how not to spread their germs?

Gen­tle reader: Re­cent events have re­minded us all of the dam­age that can be in­flicted by in­fec­tious dis­eases. One can usu­ally pro­tect one­self by mov­ing out of range.

But your ques­tion is: At what point do we all be­come pub­lic health of­fi­cials, who are not only al­lowed, but also re­quired, to over­ride the eti­quette dic­tate against cor­rect­ing other peo­ple’s be­hav­ior?

In the sit­u­a­tion you de­scribe, it is pos­si­ble for you to sat­isfy the re­quire­ments of both safety and eti­quette: Say “Poor dear” and tell the par­ents that you would be happy to give lit­tle No­rah a tis­sue.

Some­one will no doubt cor­rect Miss Man­ners, that pub­lic health is not to be tri­fled with by paus­ing to con­sider some­thing as triv­ial as man­ners. She re­minds that reader that eti­quette is never more im­por­tant than in try­ing times.

Dear Miss Man­ners: A friend calls out to you in a park­ing lot. Is it OK just to wave to a friend when you are in a hurry? Or do you have to stop and talk?

Gen­tle reader: In our cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, you could ac­tu­ally be fined for it. That ex­cuse will not last for­ever, how­ever.

When things re­turn to nor­mal, Miss Man­ners as­sures you that as long as you make it clear that it is your sched­ule, and not your af­fec­tion, that is in ques­tion, it will still be ac­cept­able to keep mov­ing. This can be ac­com­plished by ac­com­pa­ny­ing the wave with a ges­ture to a (real or imag­ined) wrist­watch and a hur­ried, but pleas­ant and apolo­getic, fa­cial ex­pres­sion.

Dear Miss Man­ners: I don’t mind my in-laws send­ing group texts when plan­ning hol­i­days or sup­per, but they take it a step too far. Twice, they have group-texted my­self, my hus­band, my brother-in­law and his wife about the death of fam­ily mem­bers.

While this to me is dis­turb­ing by it­self, the kicker is that my hus­band’s phone is older and doesn’t re­ceive group texts, so it falls on me to re­lay the mes­sage. I have told his par­ents he is not re­ceiv­ing their mes­sages, but they don’t seem to care.

Am I out of place for think­ing they could re­lay the mes­sage to their two sons by phone?

Gen­tle reader: Miss Man­ners rec­om­mends you tell them so in per­son or over the phone. “You know, Austin doesn’t get your texts, and I don’t feel com­fort­able re­lay­ing sen­si­tive fam­ily in­for­ma­tion sec­ond­hand. I won­der if you could call us when some­thing like Nana Mary’s health is in jeop­ardy. The an­gel emoji fol­lowed by the ‘zzzz’ sign was par­tic­u­larly con­fus­ing.”

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