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Friday, July 10, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Miss Manners: Clumsy customer should have offered to help

By Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin Andrews McMeel Syndication

DEAR MISS MANNERS: While in line to check out at a grocery store, I fumbled my coffee and it ended up on the floor. The cashier called for cleanup and went on with scanning our items.

A few moments later, I glanced up to see a man standing behind me with a mop. I stepped aside as best as I could, but he just stood there, spinning the mop and staring at me. I eventually paid and left.

Should I have offered to take the mop or something? I felt as if that’s what he was waiting for, but I’ve never been offered a mop by an employee before, so I was (and still am) confused by what was expected of me.

GENTLE READER: Here is how, in Miss Manners’ experience, the situation you described might play out:

Clumsy Customer: “Oh dear! I am so sorry, please let me clean that up.”

Person with Mop: “No, that’s OK. I’ll get it.”

Clumsy Customer: “Thank you so much. That’s very kind of you. I really am very sorry.”

Person with Mop: “Of course, ma’am. It happens. Happy to help.”

Miss Manners realizes that you may not have had the chance to offer, and you encountered an unusually surly mopper. But it also sounds as though it was never your intention. That may be what the Person with the Mop was responding to, however rudely it may have been expressed.

Next time, Miss Manners suggests you stick to your part of the script – and be prepared to graciously improvise if the Person with the Mop does not.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My spouse and I are frequently included in group messages. Sometimes these groups include 35 to 70 people. While I have made it known that I don’t wish to be a part of mass texts, this continues to happen.

Is it rude to add people to these groups without consent? One time after I left a group, the person asked why I did so. I explained that I prefer not to receive that volume of messages, especially when they are sending my spouse and me the same ones.

GENTLE READER: This is one of the many reasons why Miss Manners prefers written correspondence. The mail system slows down its volume.

Group messages may feel efficient when it comes to making dinner plans or commenting on the latest celebrity mishap, but when too many people are contributing suggestions and hilarious remarks, it clogs up the message system and instead inspires contempt.

Miss Manners suggests that you politely and good-naturedly ask to be removed from the group messaging as it occurs: “245 texts? Please make this stop! Of course I’m interested in what you think, but Tyler is also on this thread and will let me know, I’m sure, when a final verdict is made. In the meantime, I would truly appreciate being able to keep my job.”

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it permissible to create a font in your handwriting to address wedding invitations and write thank-you notes?

GENTLE READER: Certainly. But Miss Manners assures you that the effort will not result in fooling anyone.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,

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