Q: Since my husband and I both retired, I am noticing some etiquette situations with friends and acquaintances that are awkward and annoying. I am always taken aback and don’t know quite how to respond to these various questions:
1. If I say that I am not up to doing something, and someone asks, “How come?”
2. When something needs doing at home and I happen to mention it, and the response is, “Why can’t your husband do it?”
3. “Have you had a colonoscopy yet?”
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4. “When are you going to downsize?”
5. “You need to rent a place in the South for the winter.”
6. “You and your husband need to get out more.”
7. “How many medications are you on?”
8. “You shouldn’t be eating that.”
9. “When are you going to get around to doing such-and-such?”
10. “Have you purchased your burial plots yet?”
11. “Why doesn’t your husband/wife like doing such-and-such anymore?”
12. “Why do you need that at your age?”
Thank you for any suggestions!
A: Nice crowd you have there. Miss Manners is tempted to augment question 5 with the suggestion that you move south, or anywhere else, to get rid of them.
One suggestion will do to respond to all of these: “How kind you are to take such an interest in our business.”
Q: Donation containers for the needy by our cash registers have been relabeled for tips. I felt that was tacky, but since it didn’t require any action on my part, I sought to ignore it.
Now credit card payments flag the customer screen with a yes/no question: “Would you like to leave a tip?” It then flags me that my customer (if they choose to do so) is leaving a tip … to which I am to give a certain response.
I feel this whole tip thing is tacky and rather rude. If I am going to receive a tip, I don’t think I should be informed of it. I’ve seen many price increases, and to ask the customer to give yet more money seems wrong. What do you think?
A: That more people should patronize the restaurants that have decided to abolish tipping. Miss Manners is puzzled that customers don’t seem to understand that they pay no more when the cost of labor is built into the prices, and spare themselves possible embarrassment.
Q: When I invite a guest, sometimes before they accept my invitation they say they need to see what’s going on that night. Should I rescind the offer so I can invite someone I know will come?
I’m not sure I like the “maybe, man” attitude. I would either decline or accept. There should be no middle ground. Am I wrong?
A: Your response should be, “Well, perhaps another time.” However, Miss Manners does not recommend that you name another time — ever. Why would you want to entertain someone who so clearly hopes that something better will come along?
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.