Miss Manners

By Manners, Miss | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), February 5, 1995 | Go to article overview

Miss Manners


Manners, Miss, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Dear Miss Manners: Some of us are in professions in which we must carry a gun discreetly, mingling with others who may or may not also be armed, but more often are not.

While every effort is made to honor the adage "Out of sight, out of mind," occasionally a social misfortune occurs: one's gun tumbles to the floor with a loud clank or clatter. This normally is noticed by those in the vicinity, who usually stop their conversations to watch, sometimes a bit shocked.

One scoops up and replaces the gun as swiftly and gracefully as circumstances permit. However, what does one say? The silence is embarrassing.

Gentle Reader: Well, yes, there is something about the sudden appearance of a gun that cuts out the chatter. Miss Manners supposes you are lucky that your friends and associates don't go diving under the nearest furniture, refusing to leave until you are gone.

To restore calm, the first thing you should say is, "Excuse me, I'm terribly sorry." Beyond being the standard apology for an accident, this establishes the idea that notwithstanding the evidence of raw power, you consider yourself firmly bound by the polite restraints of civilization. Then it would be nice to add, "Sorry, I'm afraid I'm required to carry a legal weapon." Never mind the details of this.

*****

Dear Miss Manners: The company where I work recently hired a young lady who (after requisite introductions and the passage of a few days) answered a question about stress by stating:

"That's nothing. If you really want to feel stress, you should get convicted of DUI (Driving Under the Influence) like I was last year."

I replied, "Gosh, I hope you didn't kill anybody." She became very insulted, said it wasn't THAT bad, and walked away." How should I have responded?

Gentle Reader: If you are under the horrified impression that you caused this social accident, Miss Manners hastens to relieve you of your remorse. You were the victim of a hit-and-run accident by someone who seems well-practiced in shifting blame.

The young lady in question was careening around recklessly, tearing through what ought to have been her own privacy, when she ran into you, an innocent bystander. …

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