DEAR MISS MANNERS: My in-laws and I are not close. I am polite to them, and, for my dear husband's sake, try to be cordial. My husband's stepmother died three months ago. At the visitation and funeral, his father behaved quite boorishly. Within a month, he was dating again.
Since then, he has dated at least two women (serially, not simultaneously) and is corresponding with another whom he found via a popular Internet matchmaking site. Incidentally, he and his late wife had a 13-year-old daughter.
Despite the modern view that everyone grieves in his own way and time, I am appalled by this rapid moving on, especially since he has given little time (or apparently thought) to his daughter's grief and loss. Naturally, I do not voice my disapproval.
During a recent visit to our home, he made several comments about getting a neighbor to check his mail for a letter he was expecting. I knew from the context he was referring to his lady correspondent.
Unsure how to respond to his comments about the anticipated letter, I simply acted as if I heard nothing and changed the subject.
How should I have handled this? It is likely to recur.
GENTLE READER: Fortunately, you are not required to handle either your father-in-law's mail or his social life. Miss Manners knows that this will come to you as a relief.
What would be kind would be for you to direct your attention, instead, to your young and not-so-incidental sister-in-law. If her father is preoccupied, she would doubtless be grateful for some sympathetic family life.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My nationwide gym is getting me heated in more ways than the one I'm there for. While rules for the gym go unheeded and unenforced, I guess it is no surprise that common sense manners are not far behind.
When an exercise class I attend ends, another starts. Like most gyms, the workout room has several glass walls, including the one with the only door to enter and exit the area. The starting class will stay outside the door and watch while the ending class puts away their equipment. But as soon as someone from the ending class opens the door to walk out, the starting class takes this as their cue to start pushing their way in, leaving the ending class to bottleneck and wait for a chance to walk out.
Am I wrong to think the strategy and etiquette for the changing of members to be consistent to an elevator's exchange of users or bus/train passengers? It seems to me the ones leaving should be let out first. After all, the starting class can't start until the ending class clears the studio. I'd love to hear your opinion on this.
GENTLE READER: As soon as Miss Manners can get out of the way of all those frightfully fit hordes charging at each other.
Being right about the procedure, as you are, can't be much comfort if these people are, as you say, chronic rule-breakers. You might try enlisting the help of a burly classmate, who will stand at the door calling out, bus-conductor style, "Let 'em out first, please."