DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the proper etiquette when using a public restroom and another occupant is chatting on a cell phone? May I take care of the business I came into the restroom to complete? I may make noise, especially if it is after a lunch of lentil soup. If I am able to complete my business with relative quietness, may I flush? This procedure does make noise.
If this were a once-in-a-while conundrum in a public restroom, I may not ponder this issue five minutes after washing my hands. Unfortunately, this is a near weekly event in the multistall restroom at my place of employment. Do I need to limit my fluid intake?
GENTLE READER: Such restraint would only be necessary if you were going to the bathroom, as it were, in a telephone booth. But as there is hardly such a thing left in existence, Miss Manners doubts it.
You are using the room for its correct purpose, even if you explained this more clearly than Miss Manners would have liked. Those who use it for other purposes must take their chances.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I have had several discussions over the past 25 years regarding addressing the envelope to close friends and family when sending birthday cards. I feel using the formal address (i.e. Mr. Mrs. Miss) is very impersonal. Am I wrong?
GENTLE READER: Not entirely. Miss Manners assures you that you are right that it is impersonal, although you are wrong that your personal feelings belong on an envelope that goes through the Post Office.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am curious about how to handle the well-off parents who seem to be very interested in being given the clothes, toys and equipment of my children.
As our friends have babies, we have been hearing lately how little they spend on clothes and how everything they have was given to them. We don't mind giving a few things away and have, but the need is bottomless. There is an inference from parents that another friend cared more when they were given a pile of clothes.
It just makes me feel uncomfortable to be around them, as it makes me feel guilty for no reason. I have purchased new toys and clothes for these children but want to keep our personal items such as a crib and clothes with memories our own. Is there some way to explain this without seeming like a hoarding fool?
GENTLE READER: Simply "Sorry, I'm going to keep them." Everyone will assume that you are pregnant, but let them. You do not need an excuse to keep what is yours, and people who use shaming to persuade you to do otherwise should be resisted.
That said, Miss Manners hopes you are not bristling at the very idea of friends' sharing children's hand-me-downs voluntarily. That they may be well-off does not prevent them from thinking that the money could be better spent than supplying successive new wardrobes for rapidly growing children.