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Miss Manners: Teachers need lessons in junior high etiquette

DEAR MISS MANNERS – I am a junior in high school, and I try to follow the rules of etiquette (though I have often found them lacking in certain situations, such as when a boy decides that they want to carry you like a sack of potatoes to your next class), but I have noticed in the past that my teachers who are there to teach us do not follow the same rules.

Perhaps it is just me, but I find comments (by teachers) to the effect of “Didn’t you just go?” to be unconscionable when asking discreetly to use the restroom.

Not only do I find the behavior of a teacher commenting on students’ bodily functions insulting, but in doing so the teacher brings the class’ attention to a question that I am trying to ask discreetly. And for the record, if I had just gone I would not be asking.

GENTLE READER – The teachers are not carrying one another down the halls like sacks of potatoes, Miss Manners trusts. If etiquette has failed to have a rule against this, she will declare one right now, provided she does not have to do hall-monitor duty.

Perhaps they are unduly suspicious. But then, again, they do teach junior high school. Which is all the more reason that they should know why it is a dreadful idea to allow talk about anyone’s bathroom habits to be heard by the rest of the class.

Miss Manners can tell you right now that an argument that teachers are rude is doomed. You would do better to mention that the present system led to unpleasant teasing.

DEAR MISS MANNERS – How do you handle people who are always late for their regular club meeting (30 minutes or more) and blame others if they are left when a trip is planned?

GENTLE READER – With more patience. Not patience to wait for them, Miss Manners hastens to explain. Patience, while you keep starting on time, to wait until they realize they will always be left behind.

DEAR MISS MANNERS – Is it proper to correct someone on a limpy handshake?

GENTLE READER – Were you thinking of a bit of encouraging bone-crushing? Or just a few pithy words to head off statements about being delighted to meet you?

Limp handshakes, which may have a medical justification, may not be exciting, but in any case they are not rude. An example of rudeness that comes to Miss Manners’ mind is using an introduction to offer criticism.

DEAR MISS MANNERS – Do you have to send birth announcements to your parents, siblings (people closest to you that already know), etc.? My husband and I disagree on this. He says no and I say yes.

GENTLE READER – Oddly enough, the purpose of an announcement is to announce. Therefore they need not be sent to those intimates who are on your news-when-it-happens list.

But Miss Manners is not strict about this, knowing that some like to have announcements as keepsakes. She is also aware that recipients sometimes use the cards to remind themselves to send baby presents, which is probably no news to the parents.

If you would like a copy of Miss Manners’ newsletters, “On Cellular Phone Courtesy,” “The Etiquette of Proper Eating” or “Proper Wedding Planning,” please send a self-addressed, stamped No. 10 envelope and $2 (per newsletter) to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092-0167. Please state which newsletter(s) you wish to receive.