Q: Many grocery stores, and even restaurants, now seem to require their staff to chitchat with customers. While I appreciate this over what used to be the norm (texting while waiting on me, talking to co-workers), it has gone too far in the opposite direction.
I am now regularly asked, “What are your plans for today (or this weekend)?” or “What did you do this weekend?”
How can I respond in a polite way? These questions are intrusive. Honestly, I don’t want/need more chitchat other than “How are you?” and I don’t feel like sharing my plans with strangers.
A: Nor need you. These are not courtroom interrogations where you are required to answer fully and truthfully. Or even relevantly.
Miss Manners’ response to those rote questions would be, “Fine, thank you, except that I ran out of food, which is why I’m here.”
Q: I went to the WORST SHOWER ever.
My friends and I were NOT greeted at the door by anyone. Fifteen seconds after a young woman saw me struggling at the door with packages, with NO smile she said, “I’ll take those.”
The three of us walked into the kitchen. No one welcomed us; they just looked at us. We got plates for food. The cheese cubes were, at most, 1/2 -by- 1/2 -inch big. There was a vegetable tray — yea! :) — but the vegetable dip had ZERO flavor.
They offered huge bagels (is there SOMETHING we could put on them?!). There were small cupcakes with stale, thick icing. Drinks: lemonade or water in bottles. I looked around, and oops … THAT WAS IT on the food and drinks.
Anyway, we were through eating, and NO ONE came to take our plates … so I got up to take them. I was walking around the kitchen with our plates, looking for the trash. FINALLY one of the women pointed and said, “The trash is over there.” SIGH. :(
The shower started. No one introduced anyone. The presents got opened. It was time to leave. NONE of the hostesses ever talked to my friends or to me. There were only 15 people attending. The one person who DID act wonderful was our friend, who is the mother-in-law of the mother-to-be.
Question: What SHOULD hostesses do at the shower?? I have been to AWESOME showers where young women hostesses were SO nice, hospitable, helpful; the food and punch were GREAT! This aforementioned shower was horrible.
A: Indeed. Miss Manners is happy to hear that your friends are not like that. As you seem to have survived, Miss Manners is focusing her worry on the innocent baby who will be exposed to people who have so little consideration for the feelings and comfort of others.
Q: When someone invites you to their private club, who should pay the bill?
A: Anyone who invites you anywhere should pay. That’s what it means to invite someone, as opposed to agreeing to meet or go out together.
But Miss Manners notes that this is especially true at a private club, which is considered equivalent to the member’s home (and where there should be a policy allowing only members to pay).
Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.