Dear Miss Manners: I am hearing-impaired, and last year acquired a wonderful hearing-assistance dog who listens for sounds I do not hear and accompanies me everywhere.
As I was walking through the beautiful wooded campus of my apartment complex last week, a woman I had never seen before came up to me and told me I should not walk the dog in her neighborhood. Assuming that she was concerned about the dog's natural activities, I showed her the scooper I always carry with me and assured her I always picked up.No, she said, she didn't want to always be washing the grass with soap and water where the dog had gone!
Well, I had no answer to that, but explained that my dog was a service dog and by law allowed to go wherever I went.
"We'll see about that," she said. "I've lived here for 30 years and we've never had a service dog."
Today I saw this same woman coming toward me, so I kept on walking, choosing not to stop. She followed me for a bit, shouting something, but thankfully I could not hear what she said.
What is the proper way to deal with this situation, as it is sure to arise again? I do not wish to defend myself constantly, but I do need to take the dog for her walk.
Gentle Reader: Oh, nice.
Miss Manners was aware of the increasingly widespread belief that consideration for other people is an optional virtue, dispensable if one has other concerns, but even she didn't think it would come to this. Your tormentor is probably all puffed up with the virtue of protecting the cleanliness of the grass.
You have tried etiquette's Step One, which politely assumes good will on the part of someone who hasn't demonstrated any, and attempts to appeal to her sense of human decency. This person demonstrated that she doesn't have any.
So you proceeded to Step Two, etiquette's strongest weapon, refusing to acknowledge the existence of someone not fit for human society. And she proved that you were right by behaving even worse.
Miss Manners is afraid that it is time to call in the reserves. She hates it when etiquette fails, and has to turn things over to civic authorities, but that is the way deliberate and unrepentant trans-gres-sors must be handled. If the neigh-bor continues to harass you, you should report this to the police.
Dear Miss Manners: As I try to pay with my ATM card at the grocery store, rude people in line are actually up against me, looking right over my shoulder.
I have politely asked them to step back. I have just plain said in a loud voice, "BACK OFF." Nothing works.
This is not a sex problem - it's men and women. And I'm a large, overweight person, so it's not that they desire me.
I had put up with their children under my feet for years, but when the adults are so pushy, I'm fed up.
Gentle Reader: Here's what works: Stop your transaction entirely, and ask "Excuse me, could I have a little more room, please?" And stand there waiting for them to give you some.
The reason this works is not, Miss Manners is sorry to say, that it politely calls attention to the fact that these people are being rude. It works because it makes the point that they will not get their turns until they back off and comfortably allow you to take yours.
Dear Miss Manners: We were very good friends with several couples in our fair city, socializing and going to many affairs together. During the recession of 1991, some of us were affected more than others and were therefore not able to participate in social events as we previously did.
We always celebrate each other's birthdays. At these parties, they talk about and exchange tickets to coming events which I believe is bad manners, as several couples cannot attend because of their financial condition. What would be a smart remark to remind them of how inconsiderate they are?
Gentle Reader: Smart remarks are not going to help this situation. Do you really want to embarrass your friends into feeling that they have to show more pity for you?
The consideration you request would consist of remembering to make their plans without those whom they assume cannot afford to attend. Then you would really have a complaint - because you would no longer be invited.
As these are very good friends, surely it would be friendlier to suggest to them that all of you look into going jointly to less costly events, such as little theater, public concerts and lectures.
Dear Miss Manners: Is it rude to read books that are in a doctor's office, while waiting for him? As I suspect you are going to say yes. Does it make a difference that the wait is AN HOUR! - canceling out my rudeness for his?
Gentle Reader: First, please allow Miss Manners to cure you of the notion that one rudeness permits another. There seems to be a lot of that going around.
If you deal with a doctor who habitually runs late without apologies or better explanations than a self-aggrandizing statement about giving good care, then you should complain and, failing a response, find another doctor.
But Miss Manners is intrigued by your threat. Read the doctor's books? Which books?
You don't seem to be referring to nicely bound copies of the New England Journal of Medicine that your doctor keeps in the waiting room for the patients' amusement. And surely you don't mean any private office record books that might contain confidential information.
Are the doctor's shelves of those huge medical books accessible? If so, Miss Manners gives you full permission to ask the receptionist if you may use them to look up your problem, because it seems to be running its course while you are being kept waiting.