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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Miss Manners 1/10

By Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have noticed lately that I am often skipped. The other day, it was at the doctor’s office: The lady behind me started talking to the receptionist while signing in and was then promptly checked in and saw the doctor well before I did.

When I was finally called back 45 minutes later, the doctor mentioned that I was late for my appointment. But I would have been on time had the receptionist not checked in the other lady first.

Restaurants are the same: My wife and I will be seated first, but our orders are taken well after others are seated and waited on. What could I say or do at these moments not to be rude, but to get my message across that I have been skipped?

GENTLE READER: You could have said politely, “Excuse me, I believe I was here first.” In the world of medicine, first-come-first-served does not always apply; however, you and the lady seem to have gone for routine checkups, in which case, it does.

But Miss Manners recalls having spent a day with relatives in a maternity ward waiting room when a nurse appeared and went to congratulate a family who had only just arrived. After saying a firm “Excuse me, but …” to the nurse, Miss Manners decided to finish the sentence with, “sorry, never mind” and to congratulate the other family.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the proper response to give through a closed public bathroom door when an unknown person knocks?

GENTLE READER: “Occupied!”

And, if at all possible, “I’ll just be another minute.”

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I work at a law firm as an assistant. With everyone working from home, I received several emailed gift cards and online payments from attorneys as holiday gifts.

After the new year started, an attorney called to say he forgot to send me and a co-worker gifts and asked for our handles for monetary transactions. He also asked for the average dollar amount of the other holiday gifts we’ve received.

Without thinking, I gave him the honest, wide range ($25-$2,000) of what I received this year. And although someone with his title would probably give me an amount closer to the lower end, I didn’t think to say so and am now kicking myself for even choosing to answer the question at all.

I’m afraid that I came off as opportunistic, but I’m also concerned he may feel pressured to give more than he is comfortable giving. Is it rude (and pointless) to try to revisit this question?

GENTLE READER: It would be nice if you tried. You might point out that you are accustomed to giving the lawyers factual answers to their questions, and spoke before you realized that this was a different kind of question.

Yes, he should not have asked you. He could easily have asked another lawyer. And Miss Manners assures you that if you are asked again, you still do not need to answer.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website

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