DEAR MISS MANNERS: How should one respond when one is being interviewed for a job (where, if this is relevant, one has already decided that under NO circumstances would one accept a job offer), and the interviewer is insufferably rude? Specifically: barking a question and not listening to the answer while continuing to read the resume (obviously for the first time), interrupting in the middle of one's answer to bark another question, clearly having no aim other than finding something with which to ruin one's chances?
May one call attention to the interviewer's rudeness and politely offer to terminate the interview then and there, e.g., "It's clear that you have no interest in me coming to work here and I can assure you the feeling is reciprocated, so why don't we both just get out of here"?
Would one ever be justified in stronger actions, such as saying, "You have the manners of a baboon and I wouldn't work here if the only alternative was debtors' prison"? My field is software development, which has a (well deserved) reputation for attracting persons of low social skills and poor manners, and indeed one suspects that this person might not even be terribly offended by the last remark.
In the actual event, I did neither; rather, the instant I got home, I e-mailed the company's HR person and politely told her that this was not a good fit for me and I was withdrawing my name from consideration.
GENTLE READER: It will come as no surprise to you that Miss Manners does not consider the baboon remark a good idea. Allow her to tell you why.
Telling off anyone who writes evaluation reports for a business is like scorning a loser who has a crush on you in fifth grade. You think you'll never care until that person shows up at reunion, now the most desirable person you ever saw -- but with a long memory.
You say that under no circumstances would you take that job. But you were there to apply for it, so the business is presumably in your field. Businesses change, and there may come a time when you do want to work there, perhaps at a better job. Your interviewer may even have left by then, but whatever he or she has noted about you will still be in the files.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: When eating with a cloth napkin I know one is to put it on one's lap. But what does one do with a paper napkin? I have been told it is not proper to put a paper napkin on one's lap. Where, then?
GENTLE READER: In the trash?
No, wait. You were not given a proper napkin, and Miss Manners realizes that you need something besides your sleeve on which to wipe your mouth.
Your informants are mistaken. There are no special rules for the use of paper napkins. They labor under the delusion that they are real napkins and would be puzzled to be treated as if they were not.