DEAR MISS MANNERS: I'm a 22-year-old college student (although I guess not for long). I've always made an effort to respect my elders, but what am I supposed to do when confronted by an elder who doesn't respect me?
When I had to do a quick errand, I was in a rush and was deep in my head thinking about all the things I had to do that day. While leaving the post office, a little old lady exited before me. I slipped out the first set of doors behind her. Somehow, although now thinking about it, it was probably by her own manipulation, I made it to the second set of doors before she did, and purposefully opened the door to let her pass before me.
She turned to me and said "Thank you." I smiled with a "You're welcome." Then she said "You see, that's what people do when people hold open doors for them, they say THANK YOU."
"I'm sorry?" I replied. She then proceeded to tell me that she had held open the door for me and that I was inconsiderate and rude.
My instinctual response was to deck her, but considering her age, I refrained and simply replied, "Really now, I honestly did not see you hold that door for me; from my understanding, I simply slipped out the door behind you. Please have a pleasant day."
I walked away seething, feeling scolded like a disrespectful little girl. I'm not a little girl anymore and I certainly don't look anything like a rambunctious teenager. I feel that I'm a relatively considerate person who would never purposefully be rude to someone, especially a stranger.
My friends say I should have simply apologized and went on my way; they try to remind me that sometimes older people, like all people, are just cranky. But I still feel like her rude remark on my supposed rudeness was out of line and, given another chance, I'd probably call her rude right back to her face.
GENTLE READER: Then you got mighty old and cranky in a hurry. It sure wasn't long between your experiencing how unpleasant that behavior was and resolving to behave that way yourself.
Fortunately, that interval lasted long enough for you to do the right thing. Miss Manners assures you that this accomplished your purpose of making the stranger realize that she had been rude. Your afterthought would merely have confirmed her impression of you as a disrespectful little girl.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: If a relative doesn't respond to a wedding invitation, or if they RSVP by checking 'no' and adding no congratulatory note, is that a signal that they do not wish to associate with the marrying couple?
I wasn't expecting gifts from those who could not attend, or even from those who did attend, but a RSVP or even a short personal note scribbled on the RSVP card would have been nice. The wedding was local, less than a two-hour drive for most attendees. I was careful not to violate any etiquette rules in my invitation, such as including registry information or mentioning gifts in any way.
It wasn't a lavish affair because we paid for it ourselves and kept it within our budget, but we did provide a nice meal and music at the reception. I sincerely wanted to bring the family together and am feeling hurt by the silence from several relatives.
GENTLE READER: Absolutely, those who declined your invitations should have congratulated you. But Miss Manners can't help noticing that by using response cards, you offered them an impersonal and mindless way of reacting, as if getting a head count were your only concern.