DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am an American student doing my Ph.D. in Great Britain and working in a bookstore part-time. Over the last year, I have been insulted several times at work because of my nationality and American foreign policy.
My boss says I am allowed to say what I wish to those who offend me with these small-minded remarks, but I can't think of a response that will be polite and dignified. Can you suggest anything?
GENTLE READER: When your British boss suggested you say "what you wish," Miss Manners fears he did not have in mind something polite and dignified. She is grateful that you do.
This is not a discussion that once begun, ends well. Even if you disagree with the American policy in question, it would be disloyal to endorse anti-American sentiment. Yet if you disagree with the customer, you will be called cheeky or rude, probably with an additional anti-American sneer. The best response is, "Can I help you find something?" accompanied by a chilly smile.