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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Miss Manners: Unstoppable moviegoers meet immovable credits-readers

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

DEAR MISS MANNERS: When we go to the movies, my wife and I like to stay seated through the credits, reading them and reflecting on what we’ve seen. We’re in a small minority.

When we followed this practice today, the group next to us wanted to leave. The seats to their left were empty, giving them a clear path to the aisle, but they decided to come past us instead.

“Go the other way; it’s clear, and we’re trying to read the credits,” my wife said.

“Yes, but the aisle is closer on your side,” they said as they insisted on coming past us.

“I guess it’s all about you,” my wife retorted.

Two questions. First, was their behavior impolite, or does our lingering in our seats improperly inconvenience others? Second, if they were indeed impolite, was my wife allowed to rebuke them?

GENTLE READER: As everyone in this story seems to have an idea about how everyone else should behave, you will forgive Miss Manners for solving the problem rather than assigning blame or justifying rudeness.

It is perfectly polite to stay for the credits; it is also perfectly polite to go home. It is not polite to block someone’s exit, nor is it polite to block someone’s view. It should go without saying that every word that you quoted above was, without exception, impolite.

There were two equally polite options available: 1. The group goes out the other way. 2. The group goes your way, but apologizes and moves quickly – which you facilitate by moving out of their way.

Notice that either would have resulted in your seeing more of the credits than what happened.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: As I was dropping my two toddlers off at school this morning, I noticed another parent with what appeared to be red play dough or some other squishy substance smashed onto his shirt.

I do not know this parent, and I did not know whether to alert him to the state of his shirt. He may have been aware already, or he could have been having a rough morning and would not have been receptive to my notification. Or he could have swung home to change his shirt before he headed to his next stop.

As a mom of two young boys, I know that I have walked around unaware of food or some other substance my kids’ sticky little hands placed on my clothing. On some of those days, I would have appreciated someone telling me, but on other days, I think I would (internally) respond with total annoyance (but a pleasant head nod outwardly).

What does Miss Manners recommend when I face this situation again in the future?

GENTLE READER: You are annoyed when a stranger tries to save you future embarrassment? Miss Manners supposes it is your own business – if it is truly not apparent on your face.

Telling the other parent before he makes his presentation to the board of trustees is a kindness. Doing so is not mandatory, however, which is all the more reason not to discourage it when you are the stickee.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website