DEAR MISS MANNERS: Several Thanksgivings ago, we were shopping in a really busy grocery store. A woman ahead of us had parked a near-empty cart in the checkout line, and was running back and forth adding items to it. The rest of us were waiting with our full carts.
She disappeared for quite a while at one point, and the line was moving, so we moved her cart out of the way and moved up toward the checkout. She came back and began screaming at us for moving her cart, being loud and abusive about how we had tried to steal her spot in line. She barged back in front of us and checked out.
Is it OK to “save” a checkout line spot and then do your shopping? It seemed to us to be pretty entitled.
GENTLE READER: Spot-saving in checkout lines must properly be confined to the quick retrieval of one item in close proximity, with no chance of the line ending before your return. Miss Manners assures you that you and your line-mates were not the ones … ahem … out of line. The screamy lady was.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My daughter, age 28, lives in the same town as her father and me. She comes over for dinner every couple of weeks and usually asks to bring her boyfriend, Doug, age 29.
No matter what meals I have served, Doug has never said anything complimentary about the food and has never even thanked me for the meal. Otherwise, he seems to be a nice young man.
I’ve tried to raise my daughter with proper manners and I believe she knows better than this. I’ve tried giving her hints, but either she didn’t get the hint or didn’t say anything to Doug about it.
Should I tell her exactly how I feel about this? But then Doug might feel required to compliment my cooking (or at least thank me for the food), and it will be false and insincere. Another possibility is that my daughter will feel offended on Doug’s behalf. I won’t even mention Doug’s table manners, as I’m sure that would set her off.
How would you recommend handling this?
GENTLE READER: Let us all divest ourselves of the idea that manners has anything to do with obeying one’s natural tendencies. This young man has already shown you his, and you do not care for them.
Therefore Miss Manners believes that the fear that telling your daughter will cause him to act insincerely is an unreasonable one.
Fortunately, the situation may easily be manipulated. Miss Manners suggests that you ask your daughter if Doug has specific food preferences, since he does not seem to enjoy your cooking and you want to please him. This will, in turn, prompt your daughter to nudge him to say something nice at the next meal — for her sake, at least.
When he does so, you must accept it, no matter how false and insincere it may seem. If he sticks around, he will get better at it.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.