DEAR MISS MANNERS: Our daughter went to help her friend who manages a motel, and when one of the customers was leaving, his 6-year-old son pointed to her and said, "That's a neat job."
The dad said, "This job is for people that never went to school and don't know anything, so you'd better stay in school."
My daughter just smiled at the boy. She is in nursing, as am I, but she lives in the mountains where there is no place for her to work and her husband has a great job. But she says, "If it will keep the boy in school, it doesn't matter what the dad thinks."
I would have taken the man aside and told him, "I am a nurse and a physical therapist, and I am just helping my friend."
Maybe I have lost my manners. What would you have done?
GENTLE READER: Miss Manners is in thorough agreement with your daughter that it doesn't matter what the father thinks, and it does matter what the son thinks.
But she fails to see how it will keep the boy in school to find that he doesn't need it for a job he admires. Worse, she doesn't want him to receive the appalling lesson that it is acceptable to insult honest working people to their faces.
As your daughter understands, pointing out that she is qualified for other jobs does not address either of these problems. It even suggests that the father wasn't rude, but only mistaken -- that it might have been all right to say this if she did not have a nursing degree.
She also had the right instinct about addressing the boy, although Miss Manners wishes it had been with more than a smile. She might have said, "I hope you do stay in school, because it will give you the choice of doing whatever job you want to do. I like doing this one. You're right, it's a neat job."
She could have added, "I'm lucky that I do have an education, so I've also been able to help people in other ways." Although your daughter certainly did not need to defend herself, Miss Manners supposes that would have pleased you.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: At a number of children's athletic events as well as at the dedication of a building with the president in attendance, I was confused over what to do during the playing of the National Anthem.
I was always taught to stand up straight and keep your arms at your side, but many people place their hand over their heart, like we do for the Pledge of Allegiance. What is the correct procedure?
GENTLE READER: What you are supposed to do during the National Anthem, besides standing up straight, is to sing. But that presumes that (1) you are an American, (2) you know the words and (3) Jessie Norman is not singing, because if she is, you should shut up and listen.
What you are not supposed to do is to applaud afterward, although nobody but Miss Manners seems to know that. As the National Anthem is not mere entertainment played for people's amusement, applauding is actually disrespectful.
But the hand position -- over the heart or at the sides -- is optional for civilians. (Military people in uniform should salute.) The exception is gentlemen with hats, who must remove them and hold them in the hand-over-heart position. And yes, baseball caps count.