DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was involved in an event that was a little funny and at the same time a little aggravating. It was like the joke where the guy goes into the dressing room and thinks the person in the next booth is talking to him, only to find that that person is talking on a cell phone.
While I was in a restroom stall of a very busy office building, a man went into the stall next to mine and started a conversation. At first I was close to answering him, but fortunately I quickly realized that he was talking on his cell. Then I realized that I was about to make noises that should only be heard in a privy. Now I'm starting to feel embarrassed and a little angry at the thought of being broadcasted to who knows where.
I was at a loss. I didn't go to the restroom to listen to others conducting business on the phone. I've always been a little shy in public restrooms, and the idea of his call going to a meeting where the other party may be listening on a speakerphone did nothing for my confidence. So I just sat there hoping he would leave so I could finish in private.
Is it wrong for me to flush and make other noises that may disrupt his call?
GENTLE READER: Why do you feel that you would be the one to bear the embarrassment? Has it not occurred to you who the caller's listeners will imagine created those noises?
Miss Manners assures you that etiquette is contextual. What you did was not improper in a restroom; what the other person did was.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: A baby shower invitation (for the guest of honor's second baby) that I received is trendy and rhymes, listing all the details necessary in an invitation. But included was a slip of paper (I thought it might be directions) that states, "This is not a shower, so no gifts please. However, there are contributions being taken for the "clean the stalls and feed the horses fund. We don't want ___ traipsing up and down the hill (to the barn) after giving birth."
I am puzzled how a baby shower can be turned into a feed the horses fund. I would think that she will be needing diapers and supplies!
Please advise! Should I even go? Should I bring a gift? Should I pretend that I didn't get that slip of paper with these instructions? I want to do the right thing, but am shocked at this kind of request.
GENTLE READER: The right thing for whom? For hungry horses? For someone who looks at those kind enough to honor her and sees disposable income?
Miss Manners is afraid that the hosts were correct in saying that this is not a baby shower. It is not intended to welcome the baby but to augment the income of the mother. You should treat it as you do other fund-raising events, which is to say, go only if you believe in the cause and are willing to support it.