In which the curmudgeonly Mister Tactless responds to actual questions published by Miss Manners, but with more pragmatic advice using less ink.
DEAR MISTER TACTLESS: I was standing at the curb in front of a restaurant, and my attention was more focused on the parking lot than the front door, approximately 15 feet away from me. An older woman walked up to the door and said pointedly in my direction, “In my day, young men were expected to open doors for their elders.”
I do make a point of opening doors for ladies, the elderly, the disabled, people carrying or pushing things, etc., when I am passing through a door at nearly the same time as them, or am standing close to the door for some other reason.
Presumably, if I had been standing at the other side of the parking lot, I would not have been expected to sprint over to open the door. But at what distance am I required to move to the door to open it for someone if I am not already within arm’s length of it?
CLUELESS READER: You are not required to open a door for anybody. It’s nice to hold it open for someone who’s right behind you and that’s about it. It’s a favor, and people don’t get to tell you when you owe them a favor. And when’s the last time anybody opened a door for you? The world doesn’t owe people open doors.
DEAR MISTER TACTLESS: My fiance and I are getting married in a small backyard ceremony this fall. Friends of mine are getting married two weeks later, and have sent us a save-the-date announcement for their large wedding.
We had not planned on inviting them to our wedding, but are now feeling like we should reciprocate. What is the proper thing to do?
CLUELESS READER: Whatever you want. Weddings are not economic transactions. You don’t owe anybody an invitation.
DEAR MISTER TACTLESS: I am invited to a 50th birthday luncheon for a girlfriend, and the invite says, “no gifts, please.” What can I do instead?
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Show up, eat your lunch, and say “Happy Birthday.” What part of “no gifts” did you not understand?