DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a very shy, quiet person at work. My strong work ethic, upbringing and genetic makeup made me that way. However, it always seems like the most loud-mouthed person at various jobs I have had think it is necessary to point this out to me, and it is often done when other people are around.
I am always taken aback by the rudeness of pointing out something personal to me. It makes me feel intimidated and upset. Needless to say, I end up disliking that person and go out of my way to avoid any future contact.
This last time, a co-worker at a restaurant (we were giving her a going-away lunch) said to me, "It's nice you came. You're so quiet."
This time I did find words and said, "I'm just working hard, trying to impress the supervisor."
Was this a good answer, or should I have said something harsher? I'm a nice person, and I do converse with people at work when I feel it is appropriate. It's always the loudest and most talkative people who like to "insult" me. What if l said to them, "You're so loud!"
GENTLE READER: No, please don't call anyone "loud." Isn't your object to discourage the Rudeness Squad, whose mission is to embarrass people who are behaving well? Then why join them?
Miss Manners knows that you are not alone in assuming that rudeness is the only way to make a point. She finds this odd, however, because it has a low success rate. The effective way to deal with this would be to reply only with a silent smile, clearly pasted on in place of a reply, and then to turn and begin a nice quiet conversation with someone else.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: A young father dies after a yearlong illness, leaving a widow and very young child. Both parents have worked outside the home and have extended family. They are not poor, but not well-to-do. At the memorial service, the widow gives instructions in the program for contributions to a college fund for the child.
I do not wish to disappoint my friend, the widow, and she is apparently (well) aware of who has contributed and who has not; but how does one know how much to contribute? Is it based on degree of friendship and familiarity, my own economic circumstances or speculation about theirs or the child's, or some other indicator? Please help.
GENTLE READER: Where do people get the impression that Miss Manners is in charge of billing for the events of life -- declaring that so much is owed for a birthday, so much for a graduation, a wedding, and, in this case, a death?
She wants no part of it. Kind as it is to help out those in need, or in want, there is no etiquette requirement to pay one's friends. Nor should they be asking, although in sad cases, an intimate of the family might discreetly issue an appeal on their behalf.
Miss Manners does not want to discourage you from helping educate those orphans if you wish. How much you give should then be calculated as sensible people calculate other charitable donations --according to what they can manage, what they believe is needed and how deeply they are touched, and not according to what the recipient hoped to get from you.