Miss Manners: When it's OK to yell at other people's kids
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MISS MANNERS

Miss Manners: When it's OK to yell at other people's kids

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Dear Miss Manners Standing at an airport carousel waiting for my luggage, I noticed two small children playing with the moving belt by running their hands along the edge. Their (I assume) mother was some distance away, engaged in conversation, so I spoke sharply and firmly to the children, “Stop doing that!” And they stopped.

As expected, since my words had attracted her attention, I received a nasty rebuke from the mom. Fortunately, my bag arrived, so I grabbed it and walked away without a word.

Did I handle this situation properly? What would you have done? Also, please alert parents of the danger to little hands and feet from the moving belts that are everywhere in our world (airport carousels, supermarket cashier stations, escalators). Most airports have clearly posted warning signs to that effect.

Gentle Reader • Correcting other people’s children is allowed to prevent imminent harm, and baggage carousels undoubtedly qualify. Even if the machinery does not grab them, there are heavy suitcases to worry about.

The intervention, however, still requires tact: a look of concern, an explanation (“Be careful! There is a heavy bag behind you”). Miss Manners recommends this be applied both to the children and to the inattentive parent. This may not save you from a harsh rebuke, but it will generate sympathetic glares from passersby.

Dear Miss Manners • Last year, a friend’s brother passed and I did not attend the viewing or funeral. Now another brother passed, and I would like to attend the viewing. Is this OK? I really don’t have a good reason why I didn’t attend last year’s funeral.

Gentle Reader • Having missed the first is not a reason to miss the second. Grieving relatives are unlikely to quiz you about last year, but, if asked, Miss Manners suggests you express your profound regret that you were unable to attend the first viewing, and change the subject.

Dear Miss Manners • I live in a friendly neighborhood that I enjoy. However, I have been surprised a few times by neighbors who have knocked on my door, asked to come in, and then asked for a tour of my home.

These are people I’ve seen at neighborhood meetings, not people with whom I socialize — due to the gossipy behavior that I’ve observed, which isn’t my cup of tea. Do you have any responses I can use to avoid their requests to come in, and their further requests to be given a tour?

Gentle Reader • The answer — to be delivered while standing in the doorway — is, “I’m sorry, now isn’t a good time,” accompanied by nervous glances over your shoulder.

The glances are meant to convey the idea that something unspecified is going to go terribly wrong if you do not extricate yourself from this conversation quickly. If the neighbor persists, repeat that this is not a good time and ask if they have a card so you can contact them. Miss Manners is aware that most people do not carry personal cards any more, but as you do not want the information anyway, this should not be an impediment.

Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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