DEAR MARY ANN: Please explain why people getting on elevators believe that the buttons work only if they press them themselves. I do not understand the erosion of basic rules of etiquette in our society, and the elevator button issue is one of the most annoying to me. The act of reaching over a person and invading his or her personal space is far more of an invasion, in my opinion, than simply asking a stranger, "Seven, please?" Often, the person closest to the buttons is being courteous and is holding the doors open for others to enter without the doors slamming on them. The reward for this gesture has become numerous other people groping past them to press the button for their respective destinations. Why can people today not speak to each other or be gracious with each other?
-- MY BUTTONS ARE PUSHED!
DEAR PUSHED BUTTONS: People like to press their own buttons. This may be rooted in childhood when it was a thrill to be the one who got to press the elevator button. Sharing a tiny moving space similar to a cage affects people differently. Some pretend they are sprayed with an invisible protective shield that renders them mute. On a quiet ride one jolly person can usually break the silence and start some chatter when calling out a floor to the doorkeeper. Like bus riders, others need to control their own stops. Assume the elevator panel position only if you are comfortable with a stranger reaching in your space to press the buttons. Not all passengers are at ease relinquishing control or relying on a stranger to get them to their destination.
DEAR MARY ANN: In my neighborhood there is a lot of drinking, partying and going back and forth to houses. At one party the hostess had too much to drink and said some not-so-nice things about me in front of everyone. Needless to say, it was untrue. I feel the comment was made out of jealousy. My quandary is: Should I confront her, forbid my children to play with hers, exclude her from events at my home?
-- OFFENDED BY NEIGHBOR
DEAR OFFENDED: The tipsy hostess with the mean mouth is a sharp reminder of how quickly a fun time can spiral out of control. The more attention you bring to the unfortunate incident the more you keep the memory of what was said alive. If you forbid your children to play with her children or you exclude her from events at your house, you draw attention to her false remarks. Rehashing the incident with others only serves to fuel their desire to gossip.
It is very uncomfortable to live in a close-knit neighborhood and have a feud with one of the neighbors. Use this incident as a learning experience and as a reminder that everyone may not be as nice a person as you. In the future don't use your neighbors as your sole source of entertainment. Give yourself some distance from the party atmosphere. This is adult life not a sorority house.
Need some Steel Advice? Email questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Mary Ann Wellener, Steel Advice Column, c/o Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. Follow Mary Ann on Twitter at @PGSteelAdvice.