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Miss Manners: Pushing ahead at elevator is clearly out of line

Dear Miss Manners: As a regular subway rider, I usually take the elevator rather than the escalators, as it is closer to where I need to be. I always let disabled people, elderly people and people with small children board before me if they wish, but most of the time they decline.

The other night I had a situation that enraged me. We were all waiting in line for the elevator, about 10 people deep, when a 20-something man came to the front of the line, stood in front of me, and proceeded to board the elevator before all of us. No words, nothing. He was so brazen!

He was given multiple nasty looks, but did not seem fazed, and I really wanted to say something but was not sure what to say.

Several people who had been waiting in line did not make it into this trip on the elevator because of his line jumping. It’s the men in this age group who hog the seats while the elderly and pregnant stand, push old ladies out of the way, etc., and it’s the men in their 60s who get up. What should I have done?

Gentle Reader: “Excuse me, but there is a line for this elevator.”

Your goal is properly to change the young man’s behavior, not to express your outrage, always a risky and scene-provoking move. Miss Manners recommends that you accompany it with a neutral air, as if the transgression was from absent-mindedness rather than an indictment of his age, compassion and intelligence.

Thanks may not be necessary

Dear Miss Manners: I work as a teacher in a non-public high school. Three or four times each semester, during the regular work week, we are required to attend in-services that occupy the whole day (the students have a holiday).

On these occasions, we are given breakfast and lunch at the school’s expense. This is not, I assume, an obligation on the school’s part, since providing one’s own meals is usually an employee’s responsibility.

How often should I properly acknowledge my employer’s generosity?

Gentle Reader: One properly expresses thanks for a present, raising the question of which work amenities rise to that level.

While Miss Manners may be grateful for free food, she does not consider such offerings a gift when given in recognition that an employee is working through what would otherwise be a meal. The same exemption applies to food supplied to ease the burden of long hours or late nights in the office.

But if there is no positive requirement that thanks be offered in such cases, an occasional expression of appreciation – for the policy, not for each meal – is gracious and may be useful if the school board suggests abandoning it.