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

Miss Manners: Guest scolded for using ‘wrong’ bathroom

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

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was a guest at a dinner party where the host had an overnight guest staying. I needed to wash my hands after petting their dog, they were visibly dirty, so I used the nearest washroom. Other guests had used it.

While I was washing my hands, I heard the hostess rather loudly and passive-aggressively say to her overnight guest, “We need to train the others not to use your bathroom!”

I immediately felt like such an imposition for using the (apparently) wrong bathroom. We weren’t given any sort of tour of their home.

Should I not have assumed it was OK to use the nearest room, which other guests were using? Could the hostess have handled it differently? Please advise so I won’t use the wrong washroom in the future.

GENTLE READER: Well, the hostess could have lived with your innocent mistake without resorting to insult. She could also have proactively declared, “If anyone needs the restroom, it’s the first door down the hall to your left.”

Miss Manners always finds a direct approach beforehand, rather than a passive one afterward, not only polite, but effective.

In general, the most polite thing for you (and other guests) to do is to ask the location to the bathroom, even if you have seen one. No explanation of dog slobber necessary.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Prior to a two-day class/workshop, the instructor emailed the roster to all the students. This roster included everyone’s names, addresses, email addresses and phone numbers.

In an email to the instructor, I politely inquired if it was necessary to have done so, and I was told that it was to enable students to stay in contact once the course was finished.

I replied that while I would be glad to give out my information if asked, there are some people who are concerned about privacy issues. Her response was that she wouldn’t give out MY information, should anyone ask her for it.

Am I wrong in thinking that students’ permission should be a prerequisite for distribution of their personal data? Or could it be that by registering for this course, I signed away my rights? Should I just drop this issue, even though it really bothers me?

I do not think it would do any good to contact her supervisor; it’s a small, family-run school that has been in business for decades. My issue with privacy would just make me look like a “problem” student or a know-it-all.

GENTLE READER: The fact that this is a small family business makes your request all the more reasonable: Surely they would not want to risk losing more customers.

Say, “I understand that this may be your company’s practice, but I don’t think it’s safe – or possibly legal – to distribute such personal information to strangers without permission. Please reconsider your policy. And at the very least, do not give out mine in the future.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website