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Miss Manners: She pushed my grocery items down the belt while in line

3 min

Dear Miss Manners: I was in line at the checkout. I had put my items up on the belt for the cashier. A 50ish-year-old woman came up behind me, took a divider and PUSHED all my items together up the belt to make room for hers!

This is a TOP PET PEEVE for me! I was taught to be patient and wait my turn! I'm a 67-year-old woman and physically disabled with M.S.

I said to her, “Nervy!” She then turned the situation around to make ME the bad guy instead of her ignorant behavior! I would NEVER touch anyone’s items, either by hand or with a divider. That’s just plain pushy and wrong!

It became a war of words! The older cashier in the next aisle took her side! I was very angry! Who do these people think they are? They have no right to do this to ANYONE! I asked her if she felt she was more important than me. Please respond, as I’m still fuming!

Let us suppose that the shopper behind you did do something rude — though Miss Manners is inclined to think she did not, given the lack of supporting specifics (damaged objects, muttered commentary). Was there no polite way to solve a disagreement about personal space?

You could have said, “Excuse me, but would you mind waiting until I’ve completed my transaction before unloading your cart?”

One rudeness does not justify another — an opinion Miss Manners holds strongly, even though she is able to punctuate it with a period.

Dear Miss Manners: Co-worker A and I purchased a small gift for a baby shower for Co-worker B. Tragically, the baby passed away at 3 months of age.

Co-worker A thinks that the gift should be returned to us, so we can get a refund. I think that Co-worker A should go pound rocks; the last thing this family needs to do is return gifts after such a loss.

I’ve offered to give Co-worker A the cost of the gift from my own pocket and allow the family to donate or keep the gift. It was only $25 each.

Co-worker A feels that etiquette decrees the gift be returned. I feel that it’s appropriate to disregard the rules of etiquette and behave compassionately. I’m concerned that Co-worker A’s insistence will only cause more pain and emotional stress for Co-worker B and her family.

Are there rules of etiquette for a situation like this?

The rule that your co-worker is mistakenly referring to is for when a wedding is called off. Then, presents are properly returned.

But demanding a present back in the face of a death is heartless, petty and cruel, none of which etiquette condones.

Miss Manners agrees that your colleague should go pound rocks — or do whatever it takes to stop adding to the pain of this poor couple’s tragic circumstances.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

©2022, by Judith Martin