DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am traveling on an airline. I could gripe over having to pay $5 to rent a headset, which used to come free in the old days, but I don't.
What does bother me is, at some seemingly arbitrary time, over an hour before landing, the head flight attendant announces, "This concludes the entertainment portion of this flight. Please have your headsets ready as the attendants come down the aisle to collect them."
Do the attendants really need all this time to get the headsets ready for the next flight? Or is this a token gesture of anti-hospitality to remind us that we didn't pay for a first-class ticket and could be enjoying music for the whole flight?
Nobody likes a party host who attempts to curtail the party when the night is still young, and politely, but firmly, sends everyone out the door. I thought it was proper for a travel host to give all guests the best service they paid for, rather than reminding them of what services they didn't pay for.
GENTLE READER: As Miss Manners has rarely seen flight attendants lolling around with time on their hands, she presumes there is a reason that this task is done well before whatever it takes to prepare for the landing.
You are on an airplane, so why don't you ask? (Hint: A polite inquiry is one that does not already contain a pejorative answer.)
But you came to the right place to discuss the class aspect of your question. Of course, you resent the idea of citizens being divided into different classes and being given different treatment. All good Americans do.
Selling extra services, including a smaller ratio of flight attendants to customers, strikes her as reasonable. But she finds it outrageous that the comforts once basic to all levels of service, such as seats large enough to sit in, now go for extra. And she is astonished that some commercial establishments, notably expensive restaurants and nightclubs, are able to attract customers when they blatantly dispense better service to customers who pay the same amount.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: How do you get people to stop poking and grabbing when they talk to you?
I am thinking of three people in particular. Two of them I see fairly regularly, and the third is on the board of an organization on which I also serve. I like all three of these individuals, but they can't seem to carry on a conversation without constantly grabbing my arms or putting a hand on my shoulder, and it drives me nuts. Is there a way to put an end to this, or am I being too "touchy?" (Pun intended.)
GENTLE READER: People are supposed to poke you when you make bad puns. Otherwise, they are in danger of being poked by you, while you say, "Get it?"
Puns aside, the method Miss Manners recommends is pulling back with an apparently involuntary exclamation and then apologizing with, "Oh, I'm so sorry, but you startled me." This does the job by startling them.