DEAR MISS MANNERS: Perhaps I am a bit old-fashioned, but I was taught that men are not supposed to offer to shake hands. I understood that it was only the lady who offered her hand.
My work entails meeting many people on a daily basis and I am always surprised at how many men wish to shake hands. Perhaps if you address this "problem" it will relieve those of us who frequently encounter this situation.
GENTLE READER: Being old-fashioned is not the problem here -- not, mind you, that Miss Manners considers being old-fashioned a problem. You are merely dated. Same idea, but without the mitigating charm.
When ladies started advancing in the workplace in significant numbers, many were unaware that the ladies-first system of precedence, so charming in private life, has no place there. Precedence in a professional situation is based on rank, so it is the higher-ranking person, regardless of gender, who has the choice of offering to shake hands.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Please leave the parlor for a moment to lend your expertise to those suffering in the backwoods in tents.
On our first camping trip of the summer, I was unfortunately reminded of why we stopped camping last summer. Is it the lack of running water, the mosquitoes, the spiders in the showers or the poison ivy?
NO! It is the inconsiderate numbskulls in the campsite next door who have never learned or have conveniently forgotten basic campground manners.
The noise, Miss Manners, the noise! I am not talking about young children, crying babies or an occasional loud voice that is immediately shushed. I am referring to those people who cannot for a moment enjoy the quiet and thus bring their boom boxes and thrust their musical selections on all of us, and those who ignore the thin nylon sheet that separates neighbor from neighbor and speak in loud voices all through the night.
Despite a large sign at the check-in desk citing a specific quiet time (11 p.m.!), we were bombarded with raised voices and music all night.
In the early morning, again people pass by tents on their way to the showers with laughter and shouting. PLEASE help us. Perhaps a refresher course on the etiquette of camping could enlighten a new generation and let people curse the mosquitoes instead of their own species at campgrounds.
GENTLE READER: Leave the nice, quiet parlor and go out there in the noisy wilderness? To confront a bunch of scofflaws who already know the rules and have chosen to disobey them?
With your permission, Miss Manners will content herself with endorsing the noise rules and advising you how to approach the noisemakers without inciting them to make trouble as well.
There is something inherently grouchy about telling people, however legitimately, that you are trying to sleep. If you ask them politely if they could be quiet for an hour or so because you are listening for birds, you will at least stun them into momentary silence. And the answer to "You can't hear birds now" is "Precisely. So I wonder if you would turn that off for a while -- I believe it is against the rules anyway -- so that we can try."