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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Miss Manners 11/18

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

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I had housecleaners come to assess my needs and quote the cost of services. I asked that they wear masks in my home to protect against the spread of disease.

When they arrived, one of them had a mask on. The other put one on, but without covering his nose. I reminded him by saying, “Sir, it looks like your mask slipped.”

He covered his nose, but then made very rude and demeaning comments about me and my wife, using profane language, though muttering. I asked them to leave, which they did, with the man still cursing. How should I have handled this?

GENTLE READER: Your would-be housecleaner no doubt saw your request as impinging on his right to – something.

He might, equally unconvincingly, have argued that the constitutional ban against government interference with free speech empowered him to swear at you. Miss Manners would not have you do other than as you did, trusting that the loss of your business will be a harsh but fair teacher.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My brother, who spent his life helping others, died suddenly two years ago. It was in the middle of the pandemic, and a memorial service was impossible. Now, my other siblings and I have asked my sister-in-law whether we could plan a small family memorial service for him. I offered to do the planning and organizing, if it’s too physically and emotionally draining for her, although I live 1,000 miles away. My siblings have offered, as well. We always get an ambivalent response, and nothing happens. My brother and his wife never had children together, but he poured himself into caring for her children – and then grandchildren.

All of our extended family have always had a very good relationship with my sister-in-law and cared about her very much. And we have tried to maintain that since my brother’s death. But I cannot bear the thought that such a good and honorable man, who did so much for so many, could be allowed to pass without anybody even pausing for a few minutes to honor him. I am considering just proceeding without her to organize a graveside memorial service for our family and my brother’s closest friends, and simply telling her (or not) when we’re holding it. But it will seem odd to my brother’s friends that his widow is not the organizer. And I would expect that my doing so would be the end of our family’s relationship with her and her grandson, whom my brother adored.

GENTLE READER: Funeral arrangements are not a time to be overly literal-minded about who did what. You are the sibling of the deceased, which gives you sufficient standing to plan it.

Assuming the widow’s reluctance is passive, and not actual opposition, you may be able to do the work, consulting her enough to avoid offense. Your description of your brother convinces Miss Manners it would be the right way to honor his memory.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website

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