DEAR MISS MANNERS: Standing at an airport carousel waiting for my luggage, I noticed two small children playing with the moving belt by running their hands along the edge. Their (I assume) mother was some distance away, engaged in conversation, so I spoke sharply and firmly to the children, “Stop doing that!” And they stopped.
As expected, since my words had attracted her attention, I received a nasty rebuke from the mom. Fortunately, my bag arrived, so I grabbed it and walked away without a word.
Did I handle this situation properly? What would you have done? Also, please alert parents of the danger to little hands and feet from the moving belts that are everywhere in our world (airport carousels, supermarket cashier stations, escalators). Most airports have clearly posted warning signs to that effect.
GENTLE READER: Correcting other people’s children is allowed to prevent imminent harm, and baggage carousels undoubtedly qualify. Even if the machinery does not grab them, there are heavy suitcases to worry about.
The intervention, however, still requires tact: a look of concern, an explanation (“Be careful! There is a heavy bag behind you”). Miss Manners recommends this be applied both to the children and to the inattentive parent. This may not save you from a harsh rebuke, but it will generate sympathetic glares from passersby.