DEAR MISS MANNERS: While on vacation at a theme park in Florida, I was shocked to see a mother enter the not-empty men’s room shouting for her son. There was no reply.
When I suggested/requested she leave, given it was a men’s room which was being used by numerous gentlemen, I was informed that she had every right to be there, and she resumed shouting for someone who was not in the facility. I have no doubt about what the reaction would be to my entering a women’s restroom even if looking for my daughter. Instead, I would politely ask a woman entering/exiting to see if my daughter (using her name) was “OK.” In this day and age, I cannot imagine putting a child in any scenario where their location is in question.
Was I correct in my request? Am I wrong in my view about how to handle locating my child?
GENTLE READER: Whether or not someone was singing “It’s a Small World (After All)” in your ear while this was occurring, the reminder is relevant. The mother was rude, but it would have been preferable to focus on how to help rather than how to criticize.
You could have asked the child’s name and said you would be happy to go look yourself to save her any embarrassment. Miss Manners hopes that this is what would happen if you were found hovering outside a women’s room holding a pink backpack, a coloring book, a child’s sweater and coat – and a worried look.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: A few years ago, I moved four hours away from my immediate family. We have distant cousins that live near me, but I haven’t seen these cousins since I was very small, so I’m not close to them. My brother knows them better than I do.
He thought it was a good idea to give these cousins my number without my permission. If he had asked, I wouldn’t have said no, but I would have liked to have been asked before he did it. I approached him politely and asked that he let me know before he gave my number out again. He said that family trumps courtesy and that I shouldn’t care if he gives my number to anyone as long as it’s family.
Is he right? Or is he being disrespectful to me?
GENTLE READER: Your brother’s assumption – that you would make no objection to sharing your number with your cousins – was reasonable and therefore not disrespectful. Sharing a phone number with a family member is not the same as making it public.
But before your brother says, “I told you so,” Miss Manners amends that that does not make him right to have done so. It seems strange that people erupt in anger when companies inadvertently expose private data while they are themselves busy smearing the most intimate details of their lives over every reachable electronic surface. But etiquette sees neither contradiction nor hypocrisy in this: Your right to expose yourself does not grant anyone else the right to do so. Having now learned your preference, your brother should have apologized for his mistake and agreed not to repeat it.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com.
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