Manners Matter: Not Trying to Be Nosy

By Mary Pat

Dear Mary Pat,

I was checking out at the grocery store last weekend and noticed that the cashier had a cast on her hand and was struggling a little bit. She looked up at one point and I gave her a sympathetic smile and said, “Oh, what happened to your hand?” She snapped back at me, “I don’t want to talk about it!” For a second I thought she was kidding and kind of laughed and waited for her to tell me what was wrong. Instead she started muttering about people not minding their own business. It was really awkward and the woman next in line behind me was staring wide-eyed and kind of gave me a shrug. When I turned back around, the cashier was being replaced with another, so I can only imagine that her manager heard her yelling at me (since it was quite loud). I’ve really been bothered by this exchange since I was just trying to be nice. She must have been having a bad day or something, but it will make me think twice about asking someone about an injury.


Cast Off in a Big Way

Sturgeon Bay, Wis.


Dear Cast Off in a Big Way,

She was clearly having a bad day or not suited to deal with the public. I would imagine that an average person walking around with a cast or crutches has to answer the question “What happened?” about 1,738 times. It’s repetitive and possibly a little annoying, but people are only asking since they are concerned.

I wouldn’t hesitate the next time to ask since it is preferred to err on the side of kindness and being sociable. Not everyone can be won over, but please do not give up trying. I do hope that this cashier had an attitude adjustment or was put in another part of the store where she wouldn’t have to speak to customers as much.

Good luck,

Mary Pat

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