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Please don't push past the waiter

Dear Miss Manners: I am frequently walking down an aisle in a crowded restaurant or on a deck of a cruise ship, when a waiter is approaching carrying a heavy tray of drinks or dishes.

Should I step aside and let them go by, as they are carrying such a heavy load, or should I continue on and have them step aside? Although I am the guest, their task would appear to be much easier if I let them pass.

Gentle Reader: It would be easier on your clothes, too, Miss Manners would think, if you did not insist that because you are a paying client, you can claim the right to push past an overburdened waiter on a heaving ship.

While it is true that well-trained service people defer to customers, properly trained human beings do not insist on their privileges when these would cause trouble for others.


Reasoning over recycling

Dear Miss Manners: I attended a party on Christmas at my sister-in-law's house. To my horror, I saw all of the glass, plastic and aluminum going into the regular trash.

I couldn't figure out a polite way, that didn't seem accusatory, of asking them if I could recycle these items. So I secretly snuck all those items into a bag, which I took home to my curbside recycling container.

It would have been counter to my principles to ignore the waste that was going on. But it also seemed rude as a guest at the party to ask about the nonrecycling. Is there a polite way to broach the subject? Simply ignoring it would not be an option for me.

Gentle Reader: Did other guests see you secretly foraging in your sister-in-law's trash?

Miss Manners trusts that you were not observed slipping out of the house with a large stuffed trash bag, because strangers would not have mistaken you for Santa Claus.

Last question: Can you not think of a better way to serve your ideals than by performing stealth maneuvers with other people's property? Miss Manners can. You could have simply offered to take the trash on your way out, without burdening your hostess with the reason at the time. But as she is your sister-in-law, you could choose another time to present your argument politely and perhaps to ask her if she would like you to give her recycling bins.

But you would have to accept her response, either way. Your beliefs do not cancel her sovereignty in her own household.


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