DEAR MISS MANNERS: During the pandemic, there are a lot of services that I’ve forgone out of an abundance of caution. Now that the vaccine is rolling out, I’m looking forward to resuming a lot of these activities – like getting my hair cut, returning to my personal trainer and visiting my therapist in person.
I’m in the last category that will be offered the vaccine, so I probably won’t be vaccinated until the summer, or even later. So, my ability to safely resume these activities might depend on whether the service provider is vaccinated.
What is the etiquette around inquiring about this? Is it a question I can, or should, even ask? If so, is there a proper way to go about it? I generally feel that someone’s medical history is their own business, but the pandemic has upended so many other social norms. Has it shifted this one, as well?
GENTLE READER: Avoiding intruding into another person’s medical history has certainly become more difficult, but that is not a reason to give up.
Your concern, Miss Manners would have thought, is not actually whether the providers have been vaccinated but the more general question of what steps they are taking to minimize risk.
This is a perfectly proper question. You will not have done anything wrong if they volunteer their vaccination status, just as you are at liberty not to return yet if their reassurances do not assuage your concerns.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Our neighbors of 40 years ask us to take care of their cat when they go away for more than one night. It’s usually for four days or so, and we are happy to do so.
When we had a dog, these same neighbors were insistent that we not board her when we traveled – frequently for 10 days to two weeks – because she would be better off in her own house, and that they were happy to come over to give her food, water and people-time. I always brought something back for them from our travels or made something for them as a thank-you gift – a basket that I made, filled with homemade goodies, for example.
We recently took care of the cat for a few days – Thursday to Monday, maybe –, and, as thanks, we were given a couple of very nice homemade hot pads and a $50 gift card. The time before was a $50 gift certificate to a local restaurant.
It’s way too much for the little that is asked of us. We would like to give the gift card back to them, but we don’t want any hurt feelings or to have them think that they can’t ask us to watch the cat in the future. Help?
GENTLE READER: Turning down gifts already given is an insult, so Miss Manners wishes you joy with the hot pads and the gift card. But it will be charming when you assure them that you love Sugar and are thrilled to be able to return the favor after all those years in which they looked after Chester.
Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website missmanners.com.
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