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Miss Manners: Stop picking fights if you want to stay friends, at least online

Dear Miss Manners: How do I maintain a friendship with a long-ago college sorority sister who is an apparent Trump supporter and whose eldest son is named after a Confederate general? I haven't seen her in years — we live in different states — but find myself making political remarks to her online.

She recently posted a picture of Elvis Presley as some sort of idol and took umbrage when I told her I preferred Ray Charles to White guys ripping off Black soul musicians. She snapped back: "Is everything political with you? I can enjoy all kinds of music without making an issue of it."

Well, I didn't enjoy being chastised by this old friend, and I wonder if I stepped over the line, or if she did. I have to admit being horrified by anyone who would vote for Donald Trump. But she does have her good points.

Let us hope your sorority sister is thinking the same thing about you (that you have your good points, not that she is horrified by your voting record).

Athena pardoned Orestes for killing his mother because she foresaw an endless chain of vendettas depopulating ancient Greece. For an equally heartfelt reason — if one less likely to stain the carpet — Miss Manners reminds you that one rudeness (whatever your friend no doubt said that made you feel virtuous in your outburst) does not justify another. Having been the most recent aggressor, it is your turn to apologize and agree that, if you are to be friends, some things are best left unsaid.

Dear Miss Manners: I am careful about limiting my exposure to people during the current coronavirus situation. I avoid crowds, spend most of my days at home, always wear my mask and do in-store shopping when I know there will be fewer people around. But I do prefer in-store, as it's one of the only ways for me to have any interaction with others. (I am a widow who lives alone, no family nearby, and I'm new to the area.)

Recently, my pleasant outing to a craft store ended at the cash register: As the sales associate was speaking to me, she took off her mask, laid it on the counter and started removing her sweater.

Am I wrong to feel that this was rude, and showed a lack of respect or consideration for me? Am I also wrong to feel uncomfortable returning to this store?

The last time I was there, this same cashier couldn't keep her mask over her nose and kept adjusting it. I did contact the store about her "unmasking," but the manager made it clear that she felt I was overreacting.

It does not sound as if the cashier meant to be disrespectful, either to you personally or to the value of safe behavior in an age of pandemic.

Miss Manners realizes this is not always the situation these days. But when it is, balancing our own, valid safety concerns against the limits on other people’s less-fastidious-than-ourselves behavior is difficult.

But you are not wrong to feel uncomfortable — or, since you do, not to return. You could also have backed up while the cashier changed her sweater.

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.

2021, by Judith Martin