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Dear Miss Manners: I am the office manager in a doctor's office and today, while the waiting room was full, a lady (36 years old) sat on her boyfriend's lap. I normally don't come out of my back office to get involved in the reception room; however, I could not help but make a remark, "Is there no chair available to sit on?" I thought it was a funny comment. The patient complained bitterly to the doctor that I had embarrassed her in front of everybody and insisted I apologize in front of everybody.
Dear Miss Manners: Am I being a fuddy-duddy, uncharitable grandfather because my 22-year-old granddaughter has come to live with me (I'm almost 70) to get a start in business? She did not bring her own toilet articles, uses my shampoo and comb, washes in the kitchen sink, dishes there or not. Says I'm a very negative person and like things too neat. Sleeps wherever she plunks herself, is hungry when nothing is prepared and full when a decent meal comes off the stove. I have very bad arthritis and heart problems. Why is she antagonizing her grandfather in everything she does? Am I just set in my ways, a senile man using bad manners?
Dear Miss Manners: Some months ago, a married man made an improper suggestion to me. Ordinarily, I would have pinned his ears back, but this man and his wife are dear friends of my aunt, and the suggestion was made at a social event. I instead informed him that since I liked and respected his wife, I would assume the suggestion was made in jest. He did not take the hint and I was forced to walk away.
Dear Miss Manners: Today I received two erroneous faxes at my home fax machine, including extremely private information about the TB and HIV status of individuals who had been tested at one facility and were doing business with another. I often receive faxes of this nature, as the people dialing from different agencies or medical labs transpose numbers, or just have the wrong one. The fine print on one of today's faxes said that if I wasn't the person for whom the fax was meant, I should phone the lab immediately and mail the fax back. But when I gave the lab the courtesy of a call, a rude and suspicious clerk asked me to fax it back to her. Should I have taken the time just to save her looking it up in her files? I think it should be illegal to fax such sensitive information and would like to encourage workers to take care with privileged information.
Dear Miss Manners: In my local supermarket, I at times observe shoppers snapping off the bottoms of broccoli, mushrooms or asparagus, presumably to avoid paying for this less desirable part of the vegetable. I have refrained from commenting, although I am concerned about the dishonesty and uncomfortable being a silent witness. How do I handle this without an angry confrontation or appearing as a self-appointed member of the moral police? Gentle Reader: You can be a self-appointed informer, instead.
Dear Miss Manners: As a contentedly single woman in my 30s, I have a bothersome problem. People tend to assume I'm a lesbian. I have never declared myself to be a lesbian. I live quietly and privately because I have a neurological condition that is unpredictable. Many of the women who make this assumption take the liberty of attempting to flirt with me. Since many of these women are in heterosexual relationships (but engage in male bashing or proclaim their marriages to be unsatisfying), I am deeply troubled by this situation.
Dear Miss Manners: Please tell me why is it necessary when in court for all to rise when the judge approaches his bench. The judge is an attorney in most cases, but I disrespect attorneys. Please give me some light on this matter. Gentle Reader: Do you respect the rule of law? Miss Manners is aware that the answer to this may explain what you may be doing in court. However, it is not a matter about which the citizens of a society ruled by law are given a choice. They not only are punished if they disobey the law, but if they fail to show it respect.