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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Wednesday, August 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Miss Manners: Subtle message should get dog sitter back on the job

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

MISS MANNERS: I have one of those camera doorbells on my front door. Consequently, I can see the comings and goings of a good friend of mine who walks my dogs a few times a week while I’m at work (she has a key to my house; the camera detects motion and begins to record and sends a live feed to my phone).

The trouble is that she doesn’t always walk my dogs. I know this because the doorbell camera doesn’t show her doing so. She comes over but just hangs out. Sometimes she does homework, using my printer and Wi-Fi for assignments, and sometimes she does laundry (I’ve freely offered these things to her).

I am paying her to walk my dogs when she does come over, as she’s going through a rough patch financially. I trust her in my home; I just think she gets a little lazy and I feel taken advantage of.

I know it sounds sheepish, but I don’t know how to say anything to her about this. I don’t want her to think I’m spying on her with the camera, but I also don’t want to pay her to come over for an hour for her own purposes.

GENTLE READER: The term “early adopter” is, to Miss Manners’ thinking, a triumph of marketing over common sense. We used to use less flattering terms to describe people who buy things they know are not going to work. But it does provide an important outlet for etiquette: No one is surprised when told that a new, expensive gadget is unreliable.

Your doorbell camera may be the perfection of safety, convenience and reliability, but your friend does not know this. You can therefore express to her your frustration with your new gadget: It must be broken because it did not capture her walking the dogs all last week – and you’re confident that she must have.

Having said this, it is time to beat a hasty retreat – to a different topic or a different room – as the purpose is to warn your friend what you know, not to put her on the spot for a defense. Etiquette calls this technique “the dog ate my video.”

DEAR MISS MANNERS: When my daughter was married, they invited close family and their good friends – well, some good friends. A few of my daughter’s friends work with the ex-wife. They received no card or gift from this trio. She feels they have been manipulated by the “X.”

1. Should she not send a thank-you note to them?

2. Should she just send a thank-you card, thanking them for attending and celebrating?

3. Should she send a card thanking them for attending – with a P.S.: “I fear your card/gift was lost” or something of that nature? She does not value the friendship of these three ladies, and shame on them for their lack of class and manners. What should she do?

GENTLE READER: 4. Enjoy her honeymoon and spend her time thinking of more pleasant things. Miss Manners is as perplexed by what you consider the three ladies to have done wrong as she is by your proposed solutions. Etiquette does not require that guests give gifts, nor does it require a host to thank a guest for attending. And it certainly prohibits soliciting gifts.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,

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