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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Miss Manners 11/7

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

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’ve known my current friends since college – over 25 years. These days, my income is much greater than theirs.

I bought a luxury watch, car and other expensive goods, but I never wear or use them when I’m with my friends, who do not have such things. I’d like to wear my watch, but don’t want to flaunt my income or be a jerk. What is the proper etiquette?

GENTLE READER: Neither flaunt nor patronize.

Miss Manners is pleased to see that you are in no danger of flaunting your expensive possessions. But hiding them suggests that you hold the questionable assumption that they would induce envy in your friends.

Perhaps your friends are pleased at your success, and are also satisfied with their own achievements. Perhaps they have no desire for conspicuously expensive watches, even if they could afford them, when they can see the time on their telephones. Perhaps they have so little interest in status symbols that they do not recognize yours.

In any case, it is patronizing to assume that your possessions cause them discomfort. The only reason Miss Manners can imagine to keep these items out of sight is that you attach so much importance to them that you can’t help swaggering a bit in their presence.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is there an appropriate way to address people who treat medical waiting rooms as their personal office space?

As I sit here, nervously waiting for my loved one who is having a procedure, trying to keep myself quietly occupied, I have been compelled to listen to other patrons’ work calls – loudly conducted just feet away from me.

My scornful look encouraged one of these callers to at least silence his speakerphone, but I am still a captive, unwilling audience to half of these (sometimes confidential-sounding) calls. Is there a polite way to discourage fellow waiters from such an irritating practice?

GENTLE READER: Nobody is in a medical waiting room out of choice, Miss Manners reminds you, and the waits are often long. So it is not surprising that people try to use the time – many of them to make up for an unexpected absence from work.

Yes, they may have to be reminded that this is shared space, and they do not have license to annoy others. But please omit the scorn when you do this.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: On the infrequent occasion when someone compliments my appearance, they always act rather surprised. This bothers me. Do they find me unattractive the rest of the time?

Usually if I receive a compliment, it is when I’m wearing an outfit that makes me look slightly slimmer or when I blow-dry my hair straight, which makes me look less “ethnic.” This bothers me, too.

GENTLE READER: As compliments always seem to bother you for one reason or another, Miss Manners imagines you must be grateful to receive them so infrequently.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website www.missmanners.com.

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