Is it rude to ignore chatty people in a medical waiting room?
Each week, Miss Manners answers questions exclusively from the MSN audience on all of your etiquette dilemmas. (Have an issue you want help with? Send in a question today.) Read on for this week's hot topics:
DEAR MISS MANNERS,
I had to visit the urgent care clinic for an acute illness. The doctor ordered a test and sent me to the testing center next door. As soon as I entered the waiting room for the test, the pain I was feeling increased to an intolerable level. I couldn't find a comfortable sitting position and can only assume that my face registered how miserable I felt.
A woman across the room struck up a conversation with me as soon as her companion was called back for his test (nearly as soon as I sat down). She asked me whether I thought a lady could be judged based on the brand name of her purse, and then went on and on about various styles of purses.
I was in so much pain that all I could concentrate on was keeping myself from being ill. I tried to nod and smile and give the clueless woman noncommittal responses.
Would it have been rude to say something like, "I'm sorry, but I'm in terrible pain right now, and I'd prefer to just be still?"
"No, it is not rude to claim illness in a medical waiting room. Miss Manners wonders at the powers of observation of someone who thought you looked ready for a chat, but a pained expression, and the admission, "Can't talk" would have been enough. A less polite person might have hit her with her purse."
DEAR MISS MANNERS,
I have never attended any of my class reunions, but recently I have been looking at all of the yearbooks and wondering who, what, and where are some of my closest friends from that time--both male and female.
High school was a long time ago. Those classmates bring smiles and laughs about how immature we were and the good old days.
Is it appropriate to send birthday cards to some of them? I have no idea who is married, have children or jobs. Would this or should this cause arguments or problems with the spouses? I was not a man hunter way back then, and was not sexually involved with anyone, but only they would know that.
What would you feel about your spouse getting a birthday card from a long lost former classmate??????
"Do you not have access to a computer? (A question perhaps also deserving of six question marks).
Surely researching one's former classmates, not to mention former crushes and ex-spouses, has become the national pastime. No one should be shocked to hear from old acquaintances.
However -- a big however, in your case -- your query is loaded with innuendo. You are way too interested in jealous spouses, and the declaration that you were not a man hunter back then is embarrassing. Everyone in high school is hunting for romance.
Had you merely asked whether it was a good idea to send birthday cards to classmates with whom you had been out of touch, Miss Manners would merely have suggested that you send a "Remember me?" message instead. The birthday gesture implies that they should have remembered yours."
Judith Martin's latest book is No Vulgar Hotel: The Desire and Pursuit of Venice. She is also the author ofMiss Manners' Guide toExcruciatingly Correct Behavior(Freshly Updated). She and her husband, a scientist and playwright, live in Washington, D.C. They have two perfect children, of course.
Pain: some ppl cannot take a hint that you don't want to chat, you're in pain, there's no need to even explain that you want to be left alone.. if the lady can't take a hint, just cover your eyes and drown her out
some may deem it rude, but when in pain why should you have to worry about manners.. gosh, some ppl and the way they can talk about anything.. like when someone says "hi, how are you" and to be polite, you asnwer and ask how they are, bam they open up their whole life story to you and you're stuck wondering wtf
Bday cards: if you don't know them well enough anymore that means you're no longer friends, stay away.. what you're doing is seeking attn, perhaps you've lost weight and wanna show off or something of that sort.. seems you know what your actions could stir up so leave the dust settled as it is
what you should do is stop stalking ppl online
My first reaction to the idea that the medical waiting room lady was "too chatty" was that there's a good chance she saw the LW was in pain and was attempting to help distract from the pain by some innocuous conversation. This has been a way people try to deal with their pain in such "captive" situations for a long time, and may actually be the "chatty" woman's way of being as polite and considerate as she can be. Sure, it was misguided in this case, but well-meaning, if directed by these motives. Cultural differences may come into play here.
A simple, polite "I'm sorry, I can't really talk right now" should suffice in this situation, relieving the LW of the burden of unwanted conversation while signalling that any efforts the woman was making were recognized as benign. There is certainly no need to hold rancor toward someone who hasn't demonstrated the psychic ability to "guess" what those around them desire by simple facial expression alone, especially a stranger.
When reading comments from those who express outrage at the "rudeness" of the chatty woman, I feel sad that the world has come to this..that anger must be the first reaction toward a stranger initiating small talk. Social discourse would be much simpler if we quit ascribing motives to strangers and simply take them at face value, communicating our own point of view politely and clearly.
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