DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am in a wheelchair, so I must use the accessible restroom when out in public.
On at least four occasions, I have waited a long time for the only stall I can use, while an able-bodied person (obvious when they exit) has been in the stall on their cellphone.
The worst was at the airport, where there were about 20 stalls — all empty except the one I needed — and an employee was in there. One can see through the crack that someone is in there on their phone.
Is it OK to speak up and ask them to move to another stall?
GENTLE READER: And thereby admit that you’re peeking at them through the crack?
Miss Manners has the utmost sympathy for this predicament and agrees that able-bodied people using your only accessible bathroom as office space is terrible. However, given the choice between which practice is more impolite — theirs or being spied on in the bathroom — she is afraid that you still would lose.
Nevertheless, if you said in a loud voice to no one in particular, “Oh, no, you go ahead; I am waiting for the accessible stall,” Miss Manners would back you up.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am asking you to weigh in on a spousal disagreement. One of us believes that when dining at a restaurant, the courteous diner stacks used dishes, utensils and glassware at the end of the table to assist the server. The other believes that the dishes should remain where they are, that the server should be the one to gather them and that piling them up is not appropriate.
GENTLE READER: While Miss Manners concedes that putting soiled napkins and used utensils on the plate will save servers from having to touch them, full-on stacking starts to look unseemly — and, regardless of the diners’ good intentions, chipped dishes and cups may be the result.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I have been married for 19 years. We both had grown (or nearly grown) children upon entering this marriage, but we did not raise any of these children together. He also had two young grandchildren when we married, and two more have been born since then.
Sadly, he is suffering from a very rare and aggressive form of cancer. We are preparing for the worst and spending as much time with family as we can.
Upon his death, what happens to our family dynamics? Will I continue to be a stepmother and grandmother? I love his daughter and grandchildren as if they were my own. We had some rocky patches, but are doing very well now.
GENTLE READER: You may certainly retain the relationships and even their titles, as long as all are amenable. Not mentioning the rocky patches, Miss Manners helpfully warns, will also do wonders for preserving that familial affection.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, [email protected]; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.