DEAR MISS MANNERS: The train I take to commute to work is composed of rows of two seats: one window seat and one aisle seat. Inevitably when I board, the only seats left are the aisle seats.
Because I ride the train for five stops, it is often the case that my seat companion wants to get off before my stop. Almost always, I am either kindly asked to get up while the train is still moving, or my companion wordlessly stands up, also while the train is still moving, to prompt me to get up.
I would hate to make the person late for something; however, I do not like getting up while the train is moving. This is because it often lurches in one direction or another, especially as it is braking for its stop, and I am thrown around, trying to balance my belongings.
Sometimes I ask if we could please wait for the train to fully stop. A few people say “no problem,” but more often, they are bothered -- understandably, because I am essentially holding them hostage in their seat until the train fully stops. What is the proper train etiquette in this scenario?
GENTLE READER: Most transportation systems subject their customers to some level of discomfort and inconvenience. (This is, Miss Manners believes, why one hears so many announcements in transit on how much the company cares about its passengers.) Trains make noise, they lurch, and space is at a premium.
Polite passengers (presuming that they are not in need of special accommodation) give more weight to the comfort of fellow passengers than to their own. This means offering seats, making room in the aisle -- and getting up when the inside passenger requests. Remember that another inconvenience of commuter trains is that they hurry people on and off: An inside passenger may have good reason to worry about the time allowed for disembarking.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: One of my favorite dishes at a local restaurant includes strips of chicken, marinated and grilled on small skewers. What is the proper way to eat this?
Does one pick up each end of the skewer and daintily nibble away? Or does the diner use cutlery to slide the chicken off the skewer and proceed with a knife and fork?
I have tried both methods. Other diners appear to take no notice of either, but I want to do this properly. The eating establishment is very casual -- a ribs and wings place, not a linen tablecloth in sight. Does that matter?
GENTLE READER: Grasp one end of the skewer and use your fork to push everything onto the plate, where it may then be eaten in the normal way.
In addition to this method being formal enough for any occasion, so you don’t need to check for tablecloths, Miss Manners prefers this method because even she is not dainty enough to remove the last piece of meat from the bottom of the skewer without the danger of sending pieces flying -- or, more to the point, skewering herself.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)