Miss Manners: The supermarket cashier’s advice got me in trouble with other shoppers

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am the mother of four teenagers and so I go to the grocery store quite often.

Hardworking employees trying to balance the number of people in lines often ask me to go to the express line even if I have a few too many items.

I had to start telling them no, I won’t, because so many people have been openly mean to me for having too many items to qualify for the express line. It’s even worse when people stare at us without saying anything.

No one should assume the worst about their fellow buyers.

GENTLE READER: As you and Miss Manners understand, the employee’s intention is to speed up purchases by increasing efficiency. It is likely that they will follow the instructions.

But Miss Manners agrees with you that the benefit is not worth the personal abuse. It’s yet another example of how everyone loses when snap judgments, often incorrect, replace good manners.

She would only add that there is no reason to be short with the employee: make it clear that you are going to stay where you are because, in the past, you have been yelled at by other customers when you enter express lines with the wrong number. number of objects.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Over the years, my husband and I have collected a nice variety of books, which we keep in several large bookcases in our small living room.

I regularly cite some of them, because they are reference works. Others are old classics, others are books from my childhood, and one shelf is full of handwritten diaries spanning the past 30 years.

When guests visit us, they sometimes browse the shelves and leaf through our books.

Is this appropriate behavior? I would not presume to help myself without prompting in books in someone else’s home, especially in personal journals, except perhaps by looking through books on display or open on a table .

GENTLE READER: The subject of reasonable limits for guests could fill several books, or even an entire house, but Miss Manners takes it as a general precept that both host and guest seek to avoid embarrassment.

For the guest, this would mean limiting themselves to reading one or two books at most. For the host, this would mean keeping something as private as a newspaper out of the living room.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was at an employee awards ceremony with the company president. It appeared to me that the President had extended his left hand holding the envelope, and I extended my hand to accept it, but he instead retracted that hand and offered to shake his right hand instead.

Which should be offered first? The reward or the handshake?

GENTLE READER: Presumably the president finally gave you both, right?

The handshake comes first, which Miss Manners assumes the president recognized too late – not that he had any doubts about the price.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to his email,; or by postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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