DEAR MISS MANNERS: If I tell others that I have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine, they inevitably ask how I qualified. That’s a sensitive question; I do have a qualifying condition, but many of my friends and colleagues do not know that. Others may have qualified based on their body-mass index or their age, which they might not wish to discuss.
When I have been asked, I have simply replied, “I am very lucky to have gotten it.” I just repeat that upon further questioning. I don’t think people are being intentionally rude – they just have not realized that this is very personal information.
Can Miss Manners issue an edict that people not question others’ reasons for getting the vaccine, as well as suggest replies for when people do?
GENTLE READER: Although this particular circumstance is, one hopes, likely to be resolved soon, the etiquette is not unique. Miss Manners sees parallels everywhere.
There is the person who assumes that an extended tummy is an invitation to ask about, if not to touch, an unannounced (and possibly nonexistent) baby. Or the one who thinks a wheelchair or a cast or a bandage is a good conversation starter.
To all such, she says: Stop it! You know better. So consider the edict issued.
As to how you can encourage such restraint in others, her advice is not to be as understanding as you have been. Without being rude, you could answer in a way that makes the speaker recognize that he has overstepped: a somber, I-challenge-you-to-press-further expression and a flat non-explanation “Yes, I did qualify.” And if that does not work, change the subject. Not every question deserves to be answered.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My father passed away in January, and I had to quickly move my mother into a memory care facility. In order to pay the monthly fees, I have to put their house on the market.
The house is a 10-hour drive from where I live, and I do not “know the neighborhood” to identify local workers to help. I hired someone whom I felt quite comfortable having in the home, but he needed help and called on someone with relevant experience.
This person is covered in white supremacist tattoos and wears T-shirts that I find offensive and absolutely inexcusable.
How do I tell this person they are not welcome in the home when I have few staffing resources to find a replacement? There is not a contract to do this work. They are each bonded and insured.
GENTLE READER: You will be pleased to hear that you do not have to fire the tattooed worker – that is the responsibility of the original handyman – but to be rid of him, you will have to fire the latter. He breached your trust by foisting the work off on someone unknown to you, without your consent, and you are now going to find someone else to do the work.
Miss Manners realizes this leaves you temporarily without a worker. She apologizes, but carpentry is beyond her expertise.
Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website missmanners.com.
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