Dear Miss Manners: Where should I park my shopping cart while choosing items and/or reading labels for contents?

I leave my cart in the middle of the aisle, thereby allowing other shoppers to look at the same items, and I step out of the way to allow passersby through.

I believe other shoppers feel hurried when I wait for them to finish shopping a section with their cart, as we cannot both do so at once. I know that I feel hurried being in that same position.

My husband maintains that leaving the cart in the middle of the aisle is rude and that I should stay with my cart.

Without venturing to guess who does most of the family shopping — or who can reach items on the top shelf without assistance — Miss Manners will simply agree with you that being with the cart every second is not possible.

She agrees with your husband, however, that leaving it in the middle of the aisle gives an appearance of thoughtless abandon. If you will promise to park it to one side — and not anywhere for long — Miss Manners will agree to remind other customers that it is not a major inconvenience if they have to ask you to move forward so that they can get to the canned peas.

Dear Miss Manners: How would you suggest I respond to someone who makes snarky comments in the guise of compliments?

For example, she comes into my new home and, after complimenting a lamp, adds, "Your house looks just like it's been staged." (When we were selling our previous home, she and I made fun of how phony staging looks.) Or, an aside to her husband, "Look — she even has a special fall tablecloth." Clothes? "Cute outfit — it looks just like what I wore in high school." Food? "Yum — but I've never heard of cookies being made out of pastry dough."

These comments might sound innocuous, but I know her taste and opinions well enough to know they are thinly veiled digs. She is my husband's long-ago ex-girlfriend, or I would ghost her. I've told him I would prefer he spend time with her on his own, but that isn't always possible.

I don't want to give her the satisfaction of being snarky back, so I give a nod and faint smile and don't respond. It does irk me, though.

Can you think of a response that would let her know I got her intended message without being rude back?

The response you are trying to convey has three components, each of which Miss Manners assigns to a different body part. Your smile — bright, open, effusive — should convey that you understand the ex-girlfriend’s comment to be intended as humor. Your eyes — flat, expressionless — will demonstrate that the joke wasn’t funny.

Finally, your brain, which is directing this complex response, should remember that, whatever happens now, you already won the bigger cause of contention: your husband.

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.

2021, by Judith Martin