When I was shopping for a greeting card at a revolving-card rack, which one rotates as necessary, a pleasant-looking, neatly dressed young woman walked directly up to the same rack (although another was located immediately to the left) and proceeded to remove cards and rotate the rack to her satisfaction.
I retreated to the second rack, even though I had not completed my search of the first. She moved to the second shortly after, and when I returned to the first, she reached from one to the other. By this time, I was so amazed and annoyed by her failure to realize she was being extremely rude and intrusive that I selected a card at random, simply to be relieved of my growing tension, and left the scene.
Am I overly sensitive, and is this perhaps not considered unacceptable behavior? Would any action, verbal or otherwise, cause me to be thought of by passers-by as the Wicked Witch of the West?
Yes, that is rude behavior, and no, it does not entitle you to engage in counter-rude behavior. Screaming, "I'll give you some cards!" and spinning the rack so fast that it takes off and knocks her senseless is not a correct response.
As you observed that the offender was unaware of her offense, the polite thing to do was to call it to her attention. Thoughtlessness is not excusable, but it should be treated as such, not as a deliberate affront.
A quiet "I beg your pardon -- I was looking at those cards, and I'm afraid you're rotating them out of my sight" ought to bring forth an apology.
If you can't bring yourself to be quite that restrained, you can say, "Madam, if you will decide which rack you wish to spin, perhaps you will be so good as to allow me to examine the other."
How do you handle longtime friends whose fortunes improve while yours remain the same, and who now treat you in a condescending and superior manner because you are still poor, single, working for a living, etc.?
This has been my experience on several occasions with old friends to whom I had been loyal and supportive in their times of trouble, and who now have no time for me because of their improved financial or social status.
It takes a long time to build a friendship, and to have it tossed aside in such a manner is very discouraging, to say the least.
The sad answer is that people who behave this way are not friends and never were.
Temporary alliances, based only on transient similarities, are much more common than friendships nowadays. It is not just status -- family composition is a big factor. Single people complain of being bored with those who have gotten married, or vice versa; childless people say they have nothing in common with parents, and so on.
However, your description of building friendships and seeing such people through rough times suggests that you are talking about the real thing. Surely if these had been mere pseudo-friends, you would have discovered their shallowness earlier.
Miss Manners begs you to make sure you are not insult-collecting, as it were. Are they really behaving snidely toward you or are you out looking for some sort of change that you can charge up to snobbery?
Can you rejoice in their success without feeling affronted? Can you accept any little stylistic changes they may make without considering these symbolic of a wish to reject their past?
It is entirely possible that your friends' rise was accompanied by new responsibilities or interests that may be time-consuming. This happens often during long friendships -- preoccupation with babies is a typical example -- and true friends understand and sympathize with the new claims without demanding that the pattern of their friendship remain exactly the same.
If you can truly say you are innocent of reverse snobbery and these are people who believe that being rich, they can afford to throw away old friends, then you should drop them without remorse. They are too foolish to be worth anyone's friendship.
Two sisters living together send gifts, etc. to friends. Should the cards be signed in alphabetical order -- "Jane and Mary" -- or with the senior sister's name first -- "Mary and Jane"? This argument has been getting out of proportion.
Neither. The sister who actually writes the message puts her own name last.
However, just to keep things out of proportion, Miss Manners will tell you that the senior sister's name is styled differently in formal usage -- not on presents, but if, for example, you were issuing invitations. The elder sister is then "Miss Whetworth" and the younger "Miss Jane Whetworth."
Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of this newspaper.