DEAR MISS MANNERS: When traveling with a friend, how does one settle disputes about what attractions to see?
I've traveled abroad with two friends (different friend each time) and found myself confronted with a tiny temper tantrum when one of them didn't get her way.
In one instance, we'd both been to Paris before; both had been to Monet's garden. I didn't want to return because there were so many other attractions to see that neither of us had been to before. When I declined to take a bateau cruise of the Seine for the second time (the boat's exhaust fumes could be ignored the first time because of the trip's novelty), she replied angrily, "Don't you want to do anything you've done before?" (By the way, we were on a tour with others, so she could have elected to attend with others.)
It's a dilemma. I love travel and prefer travel with a friend. Are there solutions?
GENTLE READER: Not with the friends you seem to have. If there is one item nobody needs on vacation, it is Ms. Tiny Temper Tantrums.
Miss Manners strongly suggests that you do some serious vetting before you sign on another travel companion. Agreeing on the destination and budget is not enough. You have to share the same approach to the everyday mechanics of life on the road.
Someone who insists upon your doing all the same things she does would be a drag even if she didn't turn unpleasant when you declined. And it is only fair to warn anyone who wants inseparable companionship that occasionally you like to wander off on your own.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have more plastic shopping bags than seems reasonable. I'd very much like to avoid getting many more with each visit to the grocery store, but I always fail. What can I say to the clerks to avoid getting six bags for 20 items? I've tried saying "Please put everything in just a couple of bags, I'll be walking" and they smile, nod, and double bag each of the six bags.
I get glared at if I try to add items to underfilled bags and gently pushed aside if I try to bag on my own. My last option seems to be shrieking and criticizing their every move, but I'd like to avoid deeply irritating people who handle my food. What are the clutter-haunted to do?
GENTLE READER: You do not say whether you have an environmental objection, as well, to all those plastic bags. But, fortunately for you, that is one with which most businesses are now familiar. So Miss Manners suggests that you bring your own bags and ask that they be used.
What she suggests that you stop doing is haranguing people who are trying to do their jobs properly. Presumably they have been given instructions about bagging groceries so that nothing will spill or break, and so that the bags themselves do not leak or break when carried. Requiring them to choose between ignoring employer rules or yours is not going to work to your advantage, as you have discovered.