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