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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Miss Manners 11/23

By Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I work at a very small cafe. Because of COVID-19, our indoor capacity is limited to 25%, which is a maximum of 10 people. In good weather, we can use our outdoor seating to accommodate more.

Yesterday, the weather was great, so we were very busy all day long. We currently close at 2 a.m., but last night, two women sat at one of our tables for almost an hour and a half after closing. We had already taken down our sign, closed the checks for the four other tables, cleared their dishes, wiped off the tables, closed the registers, paid out tips, got our deposit ready, sent home the dishwasher and one of the cooks, and even turned off some lights inside.

Without being rude, how do you ask people to leave? The owner (and chef) finally went out and spoke with them nicely, and they left. But for over an hour, we felt stuck. How should we approach this next time without risking a bad review?

GENTLE READER: “I am sorry, but we are closing,” accompanied, perhaps, by an apologetic look at the “Closed” placard – a look that says, “I wish I could control the signs.”

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Due to an unfortunate experience with Victorian novels and my dear grandmother, I was led to understand that the only things that should sparkle on a lady during the day are her wedding jewelry and her eyes. Therefore, I have long been mystified to see, in daylight, perfectly ladylike women in sequin-covered evening wear as if they were appearing on TV.

Now, a few decades later, I have observed women at the office, the beach and the grocery store wearing sequins on random bits of clothing, including face masks. Can Miss Manners please update us on the proper wearing of sequins and other sparkling things for the modern lady?

GENTLE READER: Sparkly things should not be worn by grown-ups during the day. Neither should dangling earrings – but clearly only Miss Manners, you and the heroines of the unfortunate Victorian novels you’re reading know and follow the rules.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: From time to time, I get a text or an email where someone gives me vastly personal information as they apologize. Someone just wrote me and said they are sorry they did not ship my package on time because on Saturday, a family member died of pancreatic cancer.

How exactly am I supposed to respond? Do I focus on the condolences? Or do I say what is on my mind, which is that an apology really is not even necessary?

When I get these I always feel paralyzed. I just need to know how you would respond!

GENTLE READER: Yes, you should focus on the condolences. The recently bereaved are understandably disoriented and can have a misplaced sense of time, normalcy and how and when to share their unfortunate news. So yes, they may tend to over-explain. Miss Manners recommends that you politely and compassionately indulge them.

Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website

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