May 30, 2024
Unfortunately for the writer, Miss Manners takes the opposite view.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What should be the proper etiquette/expectation for approaching a single-occupancy bathroom?

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When using such bathrooms — at work, at a restaurant or elsewhere — I have no inclination to respond vocally to a knock (and inevitably the knock is loud and jarring). The door is locked and the knocking person will quickly discover that upon trying to enter.

I can’t imagine anybody likes to announce their presence in the bathroom when the occupancy question can easily be solved by trying the handle.

When I approach such a restroom, I gently try the handle first, the intention being not to disturb the individual inside should there be one. If the door appears unlocked, I turn the handle loudly but pause before opening the door, in the unfortunate but rare case that the inhabitant forgot to lock the door, to give them time to notify me.

I have polled my friend group about this and we are evenly divided on knock vs. handle. What’s your take?

GENTLE READER: Miss Manners votes for knocking. She herself finds it quite jarring to hear a bathroom door being jangled, particularly when there is a remote chance that she forgot to lock it.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My best friend and I have very frank and open communications on most topics, but there is one issue I feel very unsure about properly handling.

She and her husband have an extremely acrimonious relationship, and are together only because of the practicalities of caring for their children, who have special needs.

She usually wishes me a happy anniversary, and I always plan on returning the greeting — but when the date rolls around, it feels trite and offensive to wish her a happy anniversary fresh after hearing about their most recent battle.

It seems rude to not acknowledge the occasion, but given the state of their marriage, I can’t come up with a way to tactfully commemorate their milestone. Is there any good way to handle this situation?

GENTLE READER: Birthdays are not always happy and mornings are not always good. Greetings and commemorations are not commandments that recipients are expected to follow.

Therefore, Miss Manners recommends you simply tell your friend “Happy anniversary” — perhaps adding an “I hope you have a …” before it if you must.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a happily single 75-year-old divorcee. Most of my friends have partners, and we often meet for dinner at local restaurants. Many times, I am the only single person in our group.

At these meals, everyone tells the server how the tickets should be divided up, and I say mine is for just me. More times than I can count, the server has said: “What’s wrong with you?”

I know that it is an attempt at being jovial with the group, but I am a bit taken aback by this comment, and I am tired of hearing it. Recently I have said, “Just lucky, I guess.” Do you have another suggestion for a response for me to use in the future?

GENTLE READER: Why, when yours is so good? If someone is going to be so bold as to ask what is wrong with you, Miss Manners thinks a pithy answer is deserved.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, [email protected]; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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