DEAR MISS MANNERS: Now that winter is nearly upon us, I am fond of wearing hats outside. My dear mother always instructed me that it was rude to wear a hat indoors, and I am not suggesting that such rules have relaxed.
However, as a professional working in New York, upon entering my office building I have to present my identification in order to pass through the security gates in the lobby (a wonderful addition in these post-9/11 times). Because I carry a briefcase, I have only one free hand with which to fish out my identification and press it against the gate in order to open it. Thus, I am left without a hand with which to carry my hat.
What is a gentleman to do under these circumstances? My current custom is to leave my hat on my head until I've passed through the security gate (even though this means wearing the hat into the building, up an escalator and across the lobby) and then, once I've returned my identification to my pocket, remove my hat and hold it in my hand.
GENTLE READER: If she were not a lady, and thus obliged to keep her hat on her head, Miss Manners would tip her hat to you for your desire to obey the letter of the law. But in this case, observing the spirit is sufficient. Gentlemen are allowed to keep their hats on as they travel through transitional spaces such as lobbies, corridors and airport esplanades.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I attended a wedding where the couple made a show of toasting each other with sparkling cider in elegant stemware. While this was lovely to behold, no festive beverage was provided for the guests to participate in any way. I understand this has become quite the tradition at weddings. I always thought when toasts were offered, everyone should be given the opportunity to participate.
GENTLE READER: Perhaps that is because you thought that bridal couples cared about their wedding guests as guests, not to mention as family and friends. Why you should want to attend weddings of people who just want to assemble an audience, and assume that you should be thrilled to be allowed to look on, Miss Manners cannot imagine.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a co-worker who utilizes a wireless head-set in the bathroom, continuing her conversations with internal and external customers while completing her business. As she responds to the customer, we believe the line is not mute.
My co-workers have tested the theory that you can hear everything, and the toilet flushing is loud and clear. How do we address this in a non-passive-aggressive manner? I find it very rude, and I can't imagine what our customers are thinking.
GENTLE READER: Your concern that your co-worker is embarrassing the company is justifiable, but Miss Manners can see that you and your colleagues are having far too much fun with this.
The original worker's behavior is a problem for the boss, and it should be raised to her in a general way: "Do we have a policy on cellphone use when dealing with customers? There have been some reports of strange sounds in the background, and I was hoping we could all get some guidance."
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners(at)gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)