DEAR MISS MANNERS: Are there rules of etiquette about going through revolving doors? I work at the National Gallery of Art, a normally well-mannered area, where I have seen for years groups of people walk up to the revolving doors, and almost always the group allows women to proceed first into the revolving doors.
The doors are quite heavy and not easy to turn. Invariably, the women struggle with pushing the doors around to gain entry. I've witnessed the "grandmother" of the group in this situation.
Shouldn't men enter revolving doors first to push the doors around for those who will be following?
GENTLE READER: Yes, but it is all they can do to remember the rule "ladies first," without straining themselves to deal with the exceptions. (In addition to revolving doors, these include going downstairs and exiting from buses, trains or airplanes, where the idea is that if the lady should trip, she will at least land on something agreeable.)
A colleague of yours has invented the solution of making a complete turn in the door, so that he can both go ahead of the lady to push it and allow her to enter the gallery first. Miss Manners worries about this. A concerned lady might keep going around herself, so that she can inquire, "Aren't you coming in?"
If amusement of this sort is what is required, there is a carousel nearby for the purpose.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: The small parking lot at my son's kindergarten is often full, but there are many nearby spots on the street, and I have recently started asking people who park in the fire lane and start walking away to please move their cars.
If they apologize and move, I say "thank you," but a more typical response (and here I am paraphrasing) is that it is none of my business.
Is this true? Does the requirement to not interfere with other peoples' lives extend to pretending not to notice nonfelony rule-breaking? Because we are not the police, is it best to just say nothing when we see someone leaving their fast-food wrappers on the bench at the bus stop, not cleaning up after their dog in the public park, slipping some small item into their pocket at the store, or leaving their car in the emergency lane?
GENTLE READER: It is best not to impersonate a police officer -- or, for that matter, a kindergarten teacher -- who has caught someone breaking the rules and whose job it is to teach the offender a lesson.
Miss Manners assures you that this does not constitute a total ban against noticing other people's transgressions. It does, however, rule out going about town reprimanding them. Thank goodness for that; if not, Miss Manners would not be able to navigate a single block without inviting a fight.
What you can do is offer to be of help. You did say "please," and Miss Manners hopes it was attached to: "Please excuse me, but I'm afraid you didn't notice that is a fire lane. There is parking on the street," and not to: "You can't park there. Please move your car this minute."
The politer form gives the violators a way to move while admitting to nothing worse than an oversight. Being polite does not protect you against those who are determined to be rude, but it protects you from joining them.
Should they refuse to cooperate, you can take a lesson from the kindergartners themselves: Tattle to someone in authority.