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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Miss Manners: Ladies room at office doesn’t need monitor

Judith Martin Universal Uclick

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was in the ladies’ room today, and a woman who does not work in my office (but on our floor) walked out of the stall after having used the bathroom and didn’t use soap when washing her hands. She turned the water on, rinsed her fingers for maybe two seconds and turned the water off.

How should one react without being rude, yet hopefully nixing the behavior? What would you suggest?

GENTLE READER: That you dry your hands and go back to work. Furthermore, Miss Manners suggests that you content yourself with resolving not to shake this person’s hand, and not try to police the bathroom.

You don’t know if the lady went into the stall merely to adjust her slip. You don’t know if she has hand sanitizer that she plans to use back at her desk. You don’t even know her, much less have jurisdiction over her behavior.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was at a restaurant where the first attempt at my meal was burned. When its replacement didn’t appear for another 45 minutes, I asked for the order to be canceled.

The people with me – who had already eaten all three courses of their meals! – were screaming at me (literally) that I couldn’t do that, as it was rude. Is it rude to cancel an order under those circumstances?

GENTLE READER: Strange things happen to people who patronize restaurants, Miss Manners has observed. They have etiquette panic attacks, out of fear that their servers may sneer at them.

And so they may, as do other workers who deal with the public. But it is only at restaurants that the patrons seem to care.

You ordered a decently cooked meal to be delivered in reasonable time. When that expectation was not met, of course you could cancel the order. You would do so in dealing with any other business, and restaurants are businesses that sell meals.

There was ample evidence of rudeness at your table, however. It came from those well-fed people who screamed criticism at you.

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