DEAR MISS MANNERS: I'm afraid I've been rude, and I'm looking for forgiveness.
As a professional woman, I've had to put up with years of people assuming I must be the secretary, asking me to get them coffee and asking to speak to "someone with authority," as if that couldn't possibly be me.
Today, it happened one too many times. A company representative making a cold call to sell his products to my firm was referred to me. I answered my phone "Mary Smith," as I always do, and he proceeded: "Mary, this is Mr. Jones with the ABC Company, I'd like to speak to someone..."
Seething, I kept my voice level, but could not resist making my point -- that, as a salesman, it might be wise not to address someone by their first name and refer to himself with a title. I'm sure he had no idea what I was talking about, but I know I was rude. My question is, who was more rude?
GENTLE READER: Let's call it a tie. You both violated basic etiquette, and, as a result, you both missed your objectives. Miss Manners will attempt to smother a feeling of smugness that rudeness was its own punishment.
Had the salesman addressed you respectfully, he presumably would have obtained a hearing. Had you made your point without the rudeness of reprimanding him -- instead saying civilly, "I am the person in authority, and I prefer to be addressed as Ms. Smith" -- he might have understood.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My mother, who was just in a car accident, is much better now, thank God, but will be in the hospital another month. My wedding is in one week, and she is very upset and disappointed that she won't be able to come.
Would it be tacky to, after the ceremony, quickly drive to the hospital with my new husband in all our finery and show my mother just what we looked like and tell her all about it right then?
I'd like to show her our outfits, give her the flowers that decorated the church as well as my bouquet, and then give her the video taken of the ceremony. The guests can go to the house for the reception and start lunch, with my dad making a quick announcement about our delay. We would be gone about an hour tops.
Is it always tacky to leave your reception, even in this circumstance? What would Miss Manners do?
GENTLE READER: Make sure everyone got a glass of champagne and the explanation, along with an apology, and get them started on lunch -- just as you suggest.
The problem is not what Miss Manners would do if she were you, but what she will do now as herself. Having granted you an exception to the rule because of the unusual and emotionally compelling circumstances, she expects to watch helplessly as other bridal couples take this as license to keep their guests standing around doing nothing while they go off to have photographs taken and then make a grand entrance.