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Miss Manners: Act like a landlord, not an offended host

By Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin Andrews McMeel Syndication

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a graduate student, renting a house (that I fully furnish). To help reduce my expenses, I sublet the other rooms to grad students like myself.

I have always told my housemates that I have no problem with occasional houseguests coming for a short period, provided they give prior notice and don’t overstay their welcome. For the most part, my housemates have been considerate, but this past weekend has me stumped.

One of them had a friend and her boyfriend come to stay for the weekend. When I entered the house and saw the couple, no one offered any formal introductions. The couple basically ignored me, even though I was in the same room they were all in.

The next morning, I was in the kitchen and one of the visitors came downstairs, started opening up the cupboards and proceeded to ask me where the glasses were. Again, no “good morning,” no introduction. Just, “Where are the glasses?” (Which are all mine, by the way.)

I am appalled. In the Caribbean, where I’m from, it is customary when you are visiting someone’s home to bring a small token of gratitude for all the residents of the house, e.g., a bottle of wine or such. You introduce yourself to all inhabitants you meet while in the home (or at the very least, you say “Good morning” if you see them), and you take your friends out to dinner to thank them for their hospitality.

I have noticed a trend with folks coming to stay and treating the house like a hotel and me like the staff. Has this always been the “norm”? I was really offended by this experience.

GENTLE READER: While she cannot condone the rudeness of ignoring a person standing (in this case, also sleeping) nearby, Miss Manners notes that your housemates are your tenants, and their guests are not your guests.

If you are a host, why are you charging rent? If you are a landlord, why do you expect gifts?

As the social pattern doesn’t work, you should try a professional approach. Written instructions about use of the facilities, either distributed or posted, may not be necessary. But asking your tenants to introduce you to their guests – or introducing yourself if you meet them alone – would be a start.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I occasionally invite a friend or friends to join me at a restaurant in order to use a coupon. The coupon has an expiration date, so I mention this when issuing the invitation.

If my friend can’t go on the date I suggest, he or she will usually say, “I’ll let you know a date when I can go.” Time passes, the coupon is about to expire, so I begin to wonder whether it is better to prompt the friend or extend the invitation to someone else. What is the correct thing to do?

GENTLE READER: Although Miss Manners prohibits rescinding invitations, this is not applicable. Your initial invitation was rejected. You need only express sadness that that date did not work out, and agree that you would be happy to do some other, non-coupon activity on a more convenient date.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email,; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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