DEAR MISS MANNERS: With the onset of global warming, now more than ever must we be more environmentally aware and do more to ensure a safer planet for all of us. I believe that making small changes in everyday life can have a great impact on creating a more eco-friendly world.
That said, it irritates me to see other people being wasteful and ignorant of how their behavior is so damaging. For example, a roommate used to leave the water running while she brushed her teeth.
I can easily correct my friends and family, but what about people, like my roommate, with whom I am not as close? The incident with her occurred over a year ago, and I still feel guilty for not correcting her behavior.
As an environmentalist, I feel I should say something, but is it appropriate? And, if so, how should I say it?
GENTLE READER: With the same tact that Miss Manners is trying to muster in explaining to you that going around correcting others without invitation has (as you would put it) an impact on creating an unfriendly world.
That is not to say that you cannot discuss and explain environmentalism as long as you show people the respect that you feel for the planet.
Miss Manners gathers that you did not care for your roommate, or you would not be brooding about this a year later. But please get that irritation under control. If you are pleasant, you can talk about your dedication and even mention your habits -- saying, for example, that you turn off the water while brushing your teeth. That is more human-friendly than denouncing others' ignorance and issuing them orders.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a 37-year-old Silicon Valley professional who wears hearing aids. I can hear without them, but it takes more effort.
Sometimes, my hearing aids cause the inside of my ears to itch. If I am alone in my cube, I will take them out, scratch inside my ears, and let my ears air out.
But what is proper etiquette if I am in a business meeting? Is it rude to take out a hearing aid and scratch inside my ear? I would still be able to hear the discussion if I did that. Should I excuse myself from the meeting and then go to the restroom to do it? If I do that, I might miss hearing some important information. I also think that leaving the meeting might be considered worse etiquette. So what should I do?
GENTLE READER: If getting a more comfortable hearing aid is possible, Miss Manners strongly urges you to do so. Otherwise, whoever is speaking when you remove yours is going to be rattled, thinking you consider him not worth listening to.
Her back-up suggestions are, in order of propriety:
-- Scratch before the meeting. If the meeting lasts too long for that to help, you may be sure that there will be other people excusing themselves for other reasons.
-- Confide in a colleague and ask that person to take notes while you are absent.
-- Learn to lean a hand against the offending ear, and perform this without anyone's being able to see what you are doing.