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Miss Manners: Politely tell fans to wait

Mon., June 20, 2011, midnight

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a professional musician who is often called upon to sign CDs after a performance. I am happy to do this and am fortunate that, oftentimes, there are many people patiently waiting in line for their turn to have their CDs signed.

It never fails that at least one individual (or couple, and sometimes more), usually louder and more aggressive, will “break in line,” very quickly, to say something to me while I’m talking to or signing the CD of the person who’s been waiting in line. It seems impossible to ignore these interlopers, but I always feel guilty giving them this attention, because it extends even more the wait period for those still in line.

Interrupters or not, these are all paying customers whom I hope to keep engaged with my music/performances. What is the best way to handle this?

GENTLE READER: Gently. You don’t want these people to stop adoring you. Or the others to get out of line.

So you should turn to look the intruder full in the face and, with a regretful but pleasant expression, say, “Let me just finish with the line here, and I’ll be glad to talk to you.”

Miss Manners understands that politeness is not necessarily the attraction of a musician. Classical musicians are supposed to seem eccentrically absorbed, and popular musicians are supposed to seem egocentrically hostile. You’ll just have to trust Miss Manners on this.

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