DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a friend who from time to time asks me to go shopping with her. None of us have a car, so we use public transportation and always eat out where we shop.
The problem is that she finds a problem with everything – from the driver of the bus to what she has ordered at the restaurant. At a restaurant, for example, she wants to order more biscuits or a to-go drink after the bill has been tabled.
She is very loud and repetitive in making her case known. She will keep repeating herself over the person in charge, confusing them and blaming them.
I have told her that her complaints would be more effective if she did not scream repeatedly at the staff and also that it is wrong to order food after the bill comes. But she says they expect this as she has waitress experience – which equates to about six months during her 58 years.
It has made me not feel like shopping with her at all.
Aside from this behavior, I love her conversation and company. Any ideas on how to deal with her?
HAPPY READER: Well, not by shopping or eating out, which Miss Manners trusts you have learned.
Why don’t you two go fishing together? Or hiking in the mountains? Or parachuting? Then you could enjoy each other’s conversation without causing secondary harm.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: In social contexts, is it OK to end a conversation and walk away when it leaves the other person awkward alone?
I was chatting with someone I did not know at a party. After about 20 minutes of pleasant conversation, I took a break to say I wanted to refresh my drink and asked if the man himself wanted one. He said no and I walked away and joined friends in another room. He was left sitting alone and I felt a little guilty.
I know I’m not obligated to sit with him until someone else joins us, which may not happen, but is there a better way to go?
HAPPY READER: The only people who never have such awkward moments – stuck and talking to the same person or being left on the run – are people who refuse to attend these types of parties. And Miss Manners can not say that she blames them.
Had another guest been at large nearby, it would have been graceful for you to find a replacement when you left. But this is not always the case, and your apology, which meant that the gentleman could have accompanied you to the bar, or that you would have been willing to come back to him with a drink if he had wanted one, was polite.
Such parties are dangerous and the hosts should be on the lookout for pulling people together. But there is only so much guests can do to save each other.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners on her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or by mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.