It was Miss Manners’s own dear mother who declared Mother’s Day to be a mistaken notion. “It implies that there are 364 days on which children do not have to show their love and appreciation for their mothers,” she would say.
Yet she also taught kindness, which makes it difficult to oppose the spread of Mother’s Day beyond mothers and mother figures. But yes: It seems ridiculous and self-centered for a child to demand such acknowledgment from her mother.
Perhaps you can find a gentle way to point out that your daughter is going in the wrong direction: “You’re not my mother, dear; I’m yours.”
Dear Miss Manners: I work at a grocery where customers are constantly startling me or becoming angry at me. I have noticed that customers do not know how to make their presence known.
If they approach from out of my line of vision, many will tap my shoulder or grab my wrist, causing me to scream. Others come alongside me and begin talking. While I may hear them, I assume they are on their phone. It may take a few seconds for me to catch a couple of words that make me aware they need my help.
When I am on a ladder stocking upper shelves, customers knock into my ladder trying to squeeze a 19-inch cart through a 15-inch opening. Others prefer to reach under and around me to get to an item they want.
After I have screamed in surprise, I usually turn to them, smile and say, “Please let me know if am in your way. I will happily move.”
Most of them say they did not want to bother me — without realizing that scaring me is bothering me. A few try to blame me: “You shouldn’t be doing that now.”
Others look at me and say they didn’t hit me with the cart. One time I was jostled hard enough that I had to grab the shelf in front of me, knocking boxes off. A box hit the customer on the shoulder and she told me I needed to be more careful.
I never raise my voice. I smile. On very rare occasions, I have looked at someone and said, “I am sorry for being so clumsy. I really do not want to find out how good my insurance coverage is.”
You must be the only polite person to be found in a grocery store these days. Miss Manners keeps getting mail about altercations taking place in the aisles or checkout lines. The standard is so low that someone wanted credit for not hitting you with a cart.
Where is a peace-loving citizen supposed to get vittles in safety?
It is to be hoped that your customers are learning, one by one, from your screams and explanations. Miss Manners is sorry you have to put up with their thoughtlessness.
New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.