DEAR MISS MANNERS: While watching certain "judge" TV shows, I've noticed that when a plaintiff or defendant is given a tissue, there is NEVER a "thank you" offered to the giver.
It leads me to wonder: Is NOT thanking a person for this small favor considered somehow improper? Please help, as I am indeed befuddled.
GENTLE READER: And as you will continue to be, if you look to television for demonstrations of proper manners.
Miss Manners does not intend this as a simple sneer at the ignorance of etiquette that sprinkles so much drama --not just television, but film, theater and opera -- with misleading cues. That is sadly the fact, but she can rant about that another time.
Even well-done scripted shows should not be taken as exemplifying proper behavior. A function of etiquette in real life is to keep us from being at one another's throats. But what would drama be without conflict? And this especially applies to courtroom drama, which can match -- and exceed -- real courtrooms in emotional tension. The crier on TV may be too distraught to observe niceties, or even generally rude.
Life is different. Should you find yourself breaking down in court, do, please, thank the judge or other official who hands you a tissue.