Last Word: The please-and-thank-you principle

Welcome to 2009. I’ve resolved to be more patient, tolerant and polite. I applaud parents who teach their kids manners. I must admit, though, to being more annoyed by overly polite people than those who just don’t have a clue about the social graces. They can’t help it.

Sometimes an overly eager table server practically sits in your lap while you eat, to be sure you’re happy with your risotto. As a politely and properly cultured man of the new year, I’d like to run a few scenarios past you to be sure I don’t cross the line to becoming annoyingly nice.

• When you say, “God bless you,” after a person’s first sneeze, do you continue repeating it after each succeeding blast? Do you stop blessing them after one sneeze? Three? Six? If they succumb to a heart attack after sneeze No. 4 and never recover, do you blame yourself because you didn’t say, “God bless you?”

• Let’s say you’re following someone out of the Mall of New Hampshire where there are two sets of glass exit doors. Do you say, “Thank you” again after passing behind them through door No. 2? If there are three doors and you thank them three times, does the third time constitute stalking?

• Is it creepy for a man to open a car door for another man? I realize it’s a chivalrous gesture for a guy to open a woman’s door, or vice versa. Until I get the official word from Miss Manners, you can open your own car door when I’m driving, Sparky.

• What’s the protocol for taking the last pork chop from the serving platter? Of course, you will politely ask your dining companions, “Anyone want this last pork chop?” Predictably, no one will want to deprive you, so the overly polite diners will insist you enjoy the last one. Do you really need it though? By now it’s room temperature and pools of congealed grease are forming on it. Personally, I’d fight for the last piece of chocolate cake before I’d duel for a chewy chop.

• How can you tell if it’s OK to hug someone you’re being introduced to? In this day of more men hugging each other, I’m not sure what to do. Not wishing to appear homophobic, I’ll hug another guy if I see him go into his “embrace mode” upon approaching me.

• Along those same lines, how does one politely react to a germaphobe who declines to shake your hand? Better practice your reaction just in case you ever do business with Howie Mandel or Donald Trump.

• Do you ever politely lie to someone who, upon seeing you says, “Wow! You look great” by responding, “So do you”? Do you say it even if they look awful?

• Then there’s the ultimate display of passive aggressive: Four cars approach a four-way stop intersection at the same time. No one goes. Then everybody goes.

Thank you for reading today’s column on over-politeness. No thank YOU. NO, thank YOU!!!!!

You can hear Mike Morin weekdays from 5 to 10 a.m. on “New Hampshire in the Morning” on 95.7 WZID-FM. Contact him at