Miss Manners: Why do medical professionals talk to me like I’m a child?



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Dear Miss Manners: I was in a physical rehab center and I needed assistance walking to and from the bathroom. On one such trip, the nursing assistant asked me, “Do you have to go number one or number two?”

My reply was, “I’m not 6 years old. I have to urinate and defecate.”

I have noticed this trend within the medical field, and I find it insulting. I’m 62 years old, and I do not appreciate being talked down to like a child. It’s humiliating enough not to be able to take care of my own basic needs.

I know my reply was as rude as the question. What would be a better way to handle being reduced to a child?

One does have to wonder about a clinic that is afraid to use clinical terms.

No doubt they thought they were being sensitive to patients’ psychological discomfort, but they would do better to stick to what they know. Miss Manners agrees that this cure — infantilizing patients — is worse than the disease. Had you omitted the petulant “I’m not 6 years old,” your response would have been perfectly proper in the setting.

Dear Miss Manners: A number of my friends are getting married now — some got engaged during the pandemic, and some of them are only now getting to have weddings that were originally scheduled for 2020.

Two of my friends, Samantha and Cameron, are marrying their respective partners on the same day. I was notified of Samantha’s wedding first, with a save-the-date, less than a week before I learned that Cameron’s long-postponed wedding would finally be held on the same day.

I’m not sure what to do. I was always taught that you have to stick with commitments, but does receiving a save-the-date constitute a commitment? Or am I committed to the wedding I knew about first, which was delayed?

I had already RSVP-ed “yes” to Cameron’s original wedding two years ago, and I know Cameron’s partner (I have not yet met Samantha’s). I am equally close to both friends, and I’m genuinely at a loss as to how to proceed. I need to decide soon.

You are right that you cannot renege after accepting an invitation, absent a very good reason — among which Miss Manners does not count “because I got a better offer.”

But you are wrong to worry that you have already done so. Cameron is rescheduling because the original wedding did not take place, which the couple rightly believes is more than a technicality. Just as they are not yet married, you are not bound by your two-years-prior acceptance.

As for Samantha, her save-the-date was an implied commitment to you, not the other way around. You are free to choose which invitation to accept so long as you can convincingly maintain, if asked, that it was the first one received for that date.

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.



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