DEAR MISS MANNERS: On the public transportation system where I live, it is the unspoken rule of the escalators that the right lane is for standing, while the left lane is for walking.
One day, I was in an enormous rush to catch the next train approaching the platform, so I was walking down the left side as fast as I could. About halfway down the long flight of steps, a woman with a walker, standing in the right lane, confronted me as I tried to pass her on the left, screaming that I didn't have the right to do such a thing -- because she was disabled, I suppose.
Because there was enough room for me to pass her without touching her or her walker, or inconveniencing her in any other way, I ignored her screams and passed her, even though she actually tried to block my passage by picking up her walker and placing it squarely in the left lane!
I didn't think I was doing anything wrong, but I apologized to her, due to her apparent distress, even though I kept on walking down. Did I, in fact, do something wrong that I can't see?
GENTLE READER: That depends. Did you check whether walking on the escalator was legal?
And did you look back to check whether the walker was bouncing down the stairs after you? Miss Manners would take that to mean that you had either thrown the lady off balance, or started a public fight that was escalating to escalator violence.
The fact that you apologized is appreciated by Miss Manners, if not by the person to whom you addressed it. And she can hardly blame you for getting out of the way of a screamer.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a problem with addressing correspondence to a married woman by using her husband's name. I am highly offended by seeing a birthday card for Kristen Smith addressed to "Mrs. Samuel Smith."
Since when did Kristen lose her identity? Are we not long past the days when a woman is identified solely as her husband's wife?
I am considering not changing my name or hyphenating my name, when I get married, solely to avoid being referenced as nothing more than my husband's wife.
Is it proper to ask friends/relatives not to address me in this way? Or must I keep my maiden name in order to avoid the whole scenario?
GENTLE READER: And since when did Kristen put you in charge of deciding how she should be addressed?
You should do what you like about your own married name, but you will not avoid the whole scenario. That is because there are many people who, like you, believe that they know better what people should be called than the people themselves.
This, Miss Manners regrets to say, is what comes of giving people a choice of etiquette forms. If a simple standard is in place, whatever it may happen to be, people simply use it without giving it a thought or risking causing offense. When more than one system is available, as is the case now with married ladies' names, they feel obliged to override and attack anyone who doesn't make the same choice.
Miss Manners has no idea what Kristen Smith prefers. But she is your correspondent, so why don't you ask her?