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

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 washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

©2022, by Judith Martin

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