Manners Matter: Helping Hands

Dear Mary Pat,

Perhaps you can help settle an argument between my husband and myself. We were at an outdoor concert and the woman in front of us had her tag hanging out of the neck of her shirt. I leaned over to fix it and my husband pulled my hand back and shook his head no. Since I didn’t want to talk over the music, I didn’t ask him why he stopped me until after the concert. I figured he had a good reason for objecting to me helping the woman only to come to find out that he didn’t. Since he had such a quick reaction, I asked him why he didn’t want me to fix this woman’s tag and his response was, “Because you didn’t know her and it would be weird.” I 100-percent disagree. I don’t think it’s weird if someone you don’t know points something like this out to you; I think it’s considerate and I know I would certainly appreciate it if someone tried to help me. We went round and round on this until we just agreed to disagree. Who is right in this scenario?


Would Help a Stranger

Baileys Harbor, Wis.


Dear Would Help a Stranger,

I think your first impulse, one of kindness, was the best approach. I don’t think it would have been weird if you tapped her on her shoulder and quietly told her that her tag was out. It’s not a particularly embarrassing thing to notice on someone. It can get a bit more awkward if their shirt is on inside out or their shirt buttons are partially undone or something like that. If you are in a position to help a person, whether you know them or not, I think you should always try. I can’t imagine that anyone would be uncomfortable or offended by you pointing this out.

Good luck,

Mary Pat

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