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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Miss Manners: Snowstorm brings mixed messages from friend

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

DEAR MISS MANNERS: A major snowstorm was due to arrive. My friend called me and offered for me to come over to her house if I had a power failure, saying she had an extra bedroom and a generator, so her home would be warm. I thanked her.

The next day, she called to remind me of her generous offer, and added that I should bring my little dog with me, too. She said, “I really mean it – please do not sit in a cold home.” I thanked her profusely for the offer.

Well, the next day the blizzard started, the phone rang, and it was her husband, who never has called me. He said hello, and then: “I know you were invited, but do not drive in a blizzard.” (which I wouldn’t, anyway). He continued, “If your power goes off, just cuddle with your dog until it comes back on. Don’t leave the house to come here.”

I felt terrible. He called back in a second and said, “It’s not that we don’t want you here; we just want you safe.”

GENTLE READER: Your friend doesn’t need a generator. Her house must be warm enough just from exchanges with her husband.

Such as, “You said what? You call her right back and tell her she is welcome to come here!”

Whether or not this exchange was preceded by the husband’s saying, “It would be crazy for her to drive in this blizzard – it’s too dangerous,” Miss Manners cannot say. She would prefer to think so, and advises you to do the same. You could probably find out if you complimented your friend on the thoughtfulness of her husband, but that seems like a risky idea.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a referee. I used to only call friendly games, but recently began refereeing professionally, as well.

General etiquette demands that I am thanked at the end of games for refereeing. How do I properly respond to the thanks? After all, I am getting paid to be there and enjoy my job, so I don’t think a “You’re welcome” is appropriate.

How do you advise I respond to expressions of gratitude for just doing my job?

GENTLE READER: We thank lots of people for doing their jobs, and rightly so. But if you do not like the conventional “You are welcome,” Miss Manners suggests, “I appreciate your saying that.”

She has heard of a lot less gracious treatment of referees by those who are dissatisfied with the outcome of the game.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Why do we still use Miss, Mrs. and Ms.? What’s the point, really?

Who cares if someone is married or not? I don’t want to give an extra thought to whether they’re married or single when I’m writing or speaking their name. Why can’t we pivot to a universal title like men have? No one cares if they are married/single/widowed, etc.

GENTLE READER: Guess what? Miss/Mrs./Ms. Manners (who keeps ‘em guessing) is happy to tell you that we do have a female courtesy title that is unrelated to marital status: Ms.

Do not believe anyone who deprecates it as a 20th-century invention. It dates back at least to the 17th century, when it did just what you are requesting. Why do people keep resisting it?

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website