DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am 46 years old, have no children, and I am having trouble dealing with my young nieces and even housemates.
On a visit to my sister-in-law, I walked by my 11-year old niece and hit her playfully on the arm. She hit me back.
I was shocked and said, "Hey, you need to respect your elders!"
She squared up in front of me and said, "You need to respect me, too."
I realize she was right, but her defiant attitude shocked me. I didn't know what to say or do, so I just walked away feeling completely embarrassed and humiliated.
Yesterday, I had a discussion with a young housemate (about 21), and at one point I started talking over her. She said, "Excuse me, I am talking, wait until I'm done."
I realized she was right and shut up but rolled my eyes at what she was saying, to which she promptly said, "Don't roll your eyes at me, we are having a conversation here," in the same tone you would use with a misbehaving child. I was so mortified!
I know there is some truth to what both my niece and my housemate pointed out, but, had I been in their place, I would have NEVER dared speak in such a tone or say such things to an older person. I was taught it is extremely disrespectful to do so, and feel angry that they would talk to me like that and I couldn't think of how to handle the situation.
Am I completely wrong about this?
GENTLE READER: Completely.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I write to you in hopes of salvaging my sanity and continuing to be able to live in the free world (I just want to kill the transgressor each time.)
Somewhere, I learned by reading or otherwise that it is rude to say, "I'll get back to you at my earliest convenience." In today's time of incessant ?voicemails and telephone answering machines/systems, the phrase has crept ?back into common use, and every time I hear it, my skin simply crawls or ?shrinks.
I once associated the use of the phrase with people of limited ?formal education. Such is not now and perhaps never was the actual case. I am hearing the phrase used by people of all walks of life, and I can never know when to expect it so I can avoid it.
I have mentioned my aversion to a few people who are close to me, but I can't cite any authority for my position. Will you please help me put this matter to rest by telling me the ?proper/improper usage of "at your earliest convenience"?
GENTLE READER: Never mind where you learned this -- it could have been from Miss Manners, who has tried to point this out with, by your testimony, little success. It is a rude perversion of "Please get back to me at your earliest convenience."
However, you did learn this somewhere, meaning that you didn't always catch the problem. So it behooves you to be tolerant of those who still have not.