DEAR MISS MANNERS: My friend and I were at a high-energy fitness class with loud music, and at times during the class we were talking. Unbeknownst to us, our voices were carrying.
The instructor never yelled at us, but in the middle of the class, a disgruntled participant turned around and screamed at us, "Hey, she's trying to teach a class up here."
At this point, we kept quiet for most of the remainder of the class. We felt bad and were going to apologize to her and the teacher at the end of class for being disruptive. However, we were unable to do so, as we were ambushed by three other class participants.
One right after the other ranted at us like we were second-graders, telling us how rude we were. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you this was loud and in front of several people, the instructor included, who all seemed to be embarrassed for their yelling and berating us for talking during a loud fitness class (which was not in any way, shape or form a class remotely like yoga or anything else restorative).
I know we were impolite to talk during the class, and I respect that they were entitled to address this with us, but honestly, is it necessary to be ambushed and yelled at in front of other people over and over?
Didn't the first person who loudly called us out for our offense do enough? Was it really necessary to have three more ladies be ... a word that rhymes with witchy? Were we wrong to be taken aback?
For the record, we politely replied, "We're sorry," and then "OK" after their repeated verbal lashings.
GENTLE READER: There is a reason that Miss Manners is not in the habit of deputizing passers-by: Too many are apt to forget their own manners when confronted with rudeness.
She appreciates that you are willing to apologize, but notes that your fellow students were correct in one thing -- your talking was rude not merely to the teacher, but also to the whole class. A quick "I'm sorry" to the room at the time would have been in order. Even if your rudeness may have prevented your classmates from getting their full exercise regimen, it does not justify them making up the difference by attacking you.