DEAR MISS MANNERS: In our group of friends, we have two guys that we assume are dating but who aren’t confirming anything, even though their affection toward each other is really obvious.
Is it rude if we ask them about their relationship? Or do we just keep quiet and wait until they admit it themselves?
GENTLE READER: Why do you need to know? Especially as they do not feel the need to tell you?
At best, anticipating other people’s announcements deprives them of the pleasure of doing so themselves. At worst, wrong guesses cause embarrassment.
Therefore, Miss Manners bans all such questions, including “Are you pregnant?” “Did you get into your first-choice college?” “When are you two getting married?” and “Haven’t you found a job yet?” She asks you to be patient; your friends will either tell you, or they will not.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I work in a large bookstore, part of a multinational chain. We provide a limited number of chairs, which customers may use to examine their books before, one hopes, buying them.
It is not uncommon for our customers to remove their shoes while they relax in these chairs. I hope I don’t have to explain why this disturbs me, my co-workers and, I assume, other customers.
Unfortunately, my employer (that is, the chain, not the management of my store) has what they deem a “Just Say Yes!” philosophy of customer service, and will not be amenable to something as simple as a “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service” sign, or the equivalent.
But if I can find a polite but clever and (at least nominally) inoffensive way of suggesting that people keep their shoes on, I do not have much fear of retribution from my immediate supervisors. Anything I say can’t reference store policy, or the like. What would you suggest saying?
GENTLE READER: “Watch out for staples and paper clips.”
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have found websites where I can generate my own thank-you notes (I pick out the card, type the message, etc.), and the website prints the cards with my message and mails it directly to the recipient.
It may start out electronic, but the recipient ends up with a printed card with my personal message, even if it is not in my own handwriting. Do you feel this is still personal enough, or should I stick with the traditional note cards in my own handwriting?
GENTLE READER: As you realize, this is not quite as personal as it would be if you wrote your thanks in your own hand on a piece of paper and mailed it. It doubtless also costs slightly more in both time and money to engage a service. Why people assume they come out ahead by farming out such a simple task, Miss Manners cannot imagine.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it acceptable to talk at the dinner table?
GENTLE READER: In fact, it is obligatory, if others are present. Dinner is a social ritual, not just a feeding time. Miss Manners considers that the ability to alternate talking and chewing, without ever mixing the two, is one of the basic skills of civilization.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)
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