DEAR MISS MANNERS: What should one do when people meet-and-greet at the buffet table, becoming absorbed in conversation with each other and standing there, keeping others from getting at the food? I’ve even seen them stand around and graze off the buffet while they gab, oblivious to the starving multitudes who can’t get past them.
Short of carrying a sandwich in my pocket, how is this impasse to be handled? It’s usually obvious that the host intended that people would fill plates and take them to another room to eat, but a lot of people don’t seem to get that.
GENTLE READER: In the days before e-commerce, electronic supermarket checkout and online vehicle registration, standing in line was a daily activity. While this was not an enjoyable reality, it did mean that people maintained a sense of proportion about what constituted a national crisis rather than merely an inconvenience. The behavior you describe is inconsiderate. But it can be addressed with two words: “Excuse me.” Miss Manners is confident that will be sufficient to avoid mass extinction due to starvation.