DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was raised to believe that, in casual conversation, asking someone to pass an item by saying, “Could you get that for me?” and then saying “thank you” when it was received was acceptable. My husband feels that this is rude, and that every request must include a “please.”
People I’ve asked agree that simply asking, and then ending with a “thank you,” is fine, but my mother-in-law very pointedly corrects our children for doing this when asking each other for things.
Is it possible that my own dear parents taught me incorrectly, and I’ve been inadvertently being rude my whole life, and now have passed this on to my children? Your advice would be greatly appreciated!
GENTLE READER: Thank you, but would it still be appreciated even if it means telling you that your own dear parents taught you incorrectly and you have been inadvertently being rude your whole life and have now passed this on to your children?
And, as a bonus, that those you have queried are equally wrong?
Miss Manners prefers to believe that you misunderstood your parents. Otherwise they would be the first progenitors in history actively to instruct their children not to say please when making a request.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: At the funeral of a very dear person who was a founding member of the church I attend, I approached the deceased’s sister outside the church prior to the start of the service. I attempted to hug her and express my condolences. The sister all but recoiled, stating that she was not accepting any displays of condolence because it was “too upsetting” to her. Another family member, who was standing nearby at the time, just looked at me with a kind of “what-can-you-do?” expression on her face.
I was stunned and somewhat embarrassed because other people standing near enough heard her say this. I have not seen this person since the funeral about one month ago, and I am still a little rubbed about her behavior.
Should I be? She even made a remark to the effect that she knew her niece – the deceased’s daughter – would probably hear about it and be upset with her, but that she didn’t care.
GENTLE READER: Thus both admitting and defending being rude to you.
Although we try to make allowances for the emotional state of those in fresh mourning, that does not include hurting other mourners by repulsing condolences. On the contrary, the immediately bereaved should be representing the deceased to those who also feel their loss.
So yes, Miss Manners agrees that you should be a little rubbed about this behavior. And that for the sake of your late friend, you will now let it go.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is a man saying when he wears shoes without socks? Is this appropriate in formal settings (i.e. weddings, church, business meetings)?
GENTLE READER: Perhaps that he cares more about being comfortable – or in this case, Miss Manners would imagine, uncomfortable, if he is wearing proper shoes – than being dressed for the occasion. But Miss Manners also asks herself what it says about those who are peering down his pant legs to notice.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
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