I’m not mad
The d-blogosphere was all abuzz yesterday with anger. Anger towards one “Miss Manners”, who suggested that a gentle reader retreat to the airplane’s lavatory in order to test his blood sugar.
I, for one, am not angry. The author’s nom de plume is all about manners; about making others around you feel comfortable. And, in the name of comfort and serenity, I’m sure the person sitting next to me on a plane would prefer that I didn’t bleed all over the place. (With that said, I’m also sure this person wouldn’t want me pushing my way through from the window seat so often; but Miss Manners didn’t address this alternative, so neither shall I).
Miss Manners is a syndicated newspaper columnist who expresses opinions. She is neither legislator nor enforcer, and nobody is under any obligation or commitment to comply with her wishes. She doesn’t make rules. Let’s not forget that.
Again, manners are about how one displays themselves to others, not about how one behaves in private. I’m sure she would have no problem if I burped, scratched myself, or farted in the privacy of my own home, but there are manners which forbid such behavior in public. In fact, I’m quite sure that manners forbid the very use of the term burp and fart — it is much more polite to express these acts via kindler, gentler terms, such as “belch” or “pass gas.”
But I’m no Mister Manners. Sometimes I can’t help but to let one rip in public. Sometimes I use my fingers to catch the toppings that fell from my sandwich, and then I wipe my whole mouth with my napkin rather than eloquently dab my lips with it. Oftentimes, my elbows (or at least my forearms) are on the table. At times, I tend to interrupt people when they speak. I also will test my blood sugar while sitting on a plane, walking on the sidewalk, or riding the subway (though I’ll wait an “acceptable” amount of time before grabbing the pole with the hand I just bled from. How much time is “acceptable” has yet to be determined).
I apologize for none of those acts — except for the interrupting of others. I really need to work on that.
Likewise, I acknowledge that all of these things can make someone else feel uncomfortable, squeamish, or grossed out. But I don’t live solely to make other people’s surroundings more pleasant; I’ve got my own things to take care of. And if that means sacrificing some rules of etiquette in the name of efficiency, then I recognize that. In practice, my manners have flaws, and rather than correct them, I choose to accept them.
Miss Manners may draw the line when it comes to drawing blood in the overall context of “manners”. I can understand and respect her position.
And I promise: when I step over that line, I’ll do it as discretely as possible.
(Besides, I just don’t have the energy to be consumed by anger over these things.)