DEAR MISS MANNERS: Several of my friends and I attended an art and garden show and were enjoying it very much until the handicapped group arrived in their motorized wheelchairs and those maneuvered by caregivers. It is great that these folk are now able to attend so many more functions and be part of society.
One problem. They lack good manners.
My friends and I (all in their late 70s and early 80s) were just getting to the front of the area where we could view the displays when the handicapped group rammed into us. This is not the first instance that this has happened.
It is wonderful that so much has been gained for their participation, but must they be rude and endanger the others who also attend? While some of us do have hearing problems, not everyone in the area is deaf. Could they not speak up and request access to the viewing areas?
The problem is they run their wheelchairs into our legs and backsides and force us to move, even if we were just approaching the viewing area. If they are that demanding, perhaps they should have a special day/time reserved just for them so that they would not have to compete with those of us still on our feet. Being physically handicapped is bad enough, but must they also be handicapped by bad manners?
GENTLE READER: Really? They rammed into your legs with their wheelchairs?
In that case, Miss Manners would have thought that you would be arguing how the standees get in everyone's way, as you would be likely to attend next year's show in a wheelchair.
She does not countenance rudeness, whoever practices it, and those who use wheelchairs are responsible for keeping them from disabling anyone else. Although people who are sitting down cannot see if others are standing in front of them, they are not exempt from the rule about excusing themselves for passing in front.
However, it is not only the possibility that you exaggerated the physical damage that worries Miss Manners. In her experience, people often state the obvious -- in this case, that those in wheelchairs should get around in public -- but those who do so repeatedly often intend to imply the opposite.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Every year since my daughter was in first grade, we have had a birthday party and invited every child in her homeroom class (which is the school rule, and we feel it is fair).
One of the children has a sibling in the same grade (one was held back), and they are always in separate homerooms. My daughter has always ended up with one of them in her homeroom. Their mother will call to RSVP for my daughter's birthday party and say that the invited child can attend only if the other child (in a different homeroom) is invited as well.
I've never quite known what to say, so I say "Oh, OK, that won't be a problem." (I guess one more child isn't going to break the party budget, right?)
I don't like being put on the spot. I feel that I am being taken advantage of, and I don't want to see one of her friends that she is with all day in class miss her party. How do I handle this situation?
GENTLE READER: If one more child is not going to break the budget, Miss Manners wonders why you are suggesting that a classmate would be displaced if you accepted the sibling.
Surely the reason for the homeroom rule is to avoid making a child feel left out; for the same reason, young siblings of roughly the same age are generally invited together. No hostess has to accept proposed guests, but it seems unnecessarily harsh to stand on the legalistic point that a child who is often invited and whose sister is invited must be excluded on technical grounds.