DEAR MISS MANNERS: A friend and I were enjoying brunch outdoors at a nice restaurant when a couple with a large dog and a baby in a stroller were seated at a nearby table.
I kept silent as the couple obliviously allowed the dog to “visit” other tables, dragging its long leash behind it. I kept silent when the couple finally grabbed the leash but still allowed the dog to walk around, creating a trip hazard for anyone walking by. I figured that with a dog and a baby, these people were doing the best they could.
However, I’m ashamed to say that I also kept silent when — after they finished dining, but before the table was cleared — they proceeded to change the baby’s diaper on the table. They then got up and left, leaving the dirty diaper on the table.
This would have been revolting at any time, but even more so during a health crisis. The most I could do was commiserate with the busboy and leave a large tip, but should I have said something to the couple at the time?
GENTLE READER: Everyone has been shocked to hear of crimes committed in full view of a group of people who did not intervene, thereby allowing it to happen. But this admittedly disgusting action is not one of those times.
Half of the rudenesses that come to Miss Manners’ attention are of people who chastise perfect strangers for infractions, rather than actual crimes, confident that they are doing good. (The recipients of such unwanted attentions tell her, without exception, that the self-appointed judge/jury/executioner was wrong on the facts, but this is beside the point, and hardly possible here.)
Since it is not virtuous, but rude, to correct another person’s manners, your own behavior — including tipping the busboy — was beyond reproach. This is an assurance Miss Manners fears you will find of little comfort.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I redid my kitchen (well, had it redone). It took a long time to happen, and it was worth the wait.
I was excited when it was finished and wanted to show it off, naturally, to a woman I thought was a friend. But she never came to see it, never asked me about it, asked how I like it, etc.
She lives in the same town and we take walks occasionally. I never brought it up, but I am kind of hurt. I feel I should say something.
GENTLE READER: While it is reasonable to expect friends to show interest in each other’s accomplishments, home renovation is significantly more exciting for the homeowner than for the rest of the world.
Miss Manners therefore cautions you not to expect more enthusiasm than would be shown for a new puppy, and significantly less than is expected for a new grandchild. If the initial response is not as energetic as you hoped, it is still better to enjoy the kitchen in private than annoy a friend.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, [email protected]; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.