Q: Should one ask before a job interview if there is a dress code for the interview?
A: No. It is not that Miss Manners considers it unmannerly, or even unreasonable, for employees to get clear direction from the boss, or, in its absence, to make inquiries. It is rather that she believes that in this case, any answer you receive will make your problem worse, not better.
The most likely response will be a misguided attempt to put you at ease, something along the lines of, “Oh, really, wear anything that makes you comfortable.” Then what? Do you make a poor impression by wearing your jogging clothes to what you know to be a stuffy law firm that disdains casual Fridays? Or do you disregard the first instruction from the person you hope will be your new boss?
And if instead the boss admits that a jacket and tie are expected, what will he think of your judgment when you needed help figuring out something that to him is obvious? Remember that being overdressed shows respect for the interview and a desire to get the job, while being underdressed shows the opposite. Consider this your first job assignment.
Q: My dear mother was in the ER, and after 24 hours awake, we were all exhausted and returned home at 7 a.m.
The phone rang soon after with a concerned friend. I explained that Mom was better, but the friend chatted on until I wished the caller good night and hung up. Then I unplugged the phones to get some rest. We had no sooner gotten our second cup of coffee after a few hours’ nap when people called wanting to stop by.
How do I keep these overeager but well-meaning friends at bay until we are rested and ready to receive company?
A: Given the endless number of ways in which modern technology can be used rudely, Miss Manners is always pleased to find the occasional polite usage. Email or text family and close friends a brief report, including the fact that everyone is now going to get some needed rest.
Note the delivery mechanism and the circulation list. She does not advocate (or condone) posting your mother’s medical chart on your social media account; your mother might not be grateful when she recovers.
Q: Beginning of the day, someone walks into a room already occupied by another person. Doesn’t common courtesy dictate that that person would say “good morning” first to the person already there?
A: Since common courtesy dictates that each person issue, or respond with, a greeting, Miss Manners is not fussy about the order, as long as someone starts so that both can get on with the rest of the day.
Q: In the unfortunate event that someone would be unable to wear their wedding band on the left ring finger (for example, due to injury), what would the appropriate alternative be? The middle finger of the left hand? The ring finger of the right hand? No ring whatsoever?
A: Unless that someone is trying to advertise being married, perhaps to fend off eager would-be suitors — in which case, why not just say so? — Miss Manners considers this a personal decision.
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.