Q: I finally signed up with a popular social media site at the request of my two sisters, one who lives abroad and the other one 1,500 miles away. They both wanted to be updated on my family and daughter’s events.
However, due to my busy schedule, I want to limit the number of my “friends” on social media to 10 people, mostly very close family and friends of my daughter.
I have received a friend request from a person I carpool to work with. I do not want to increase my social media friends list. Should I accept the invite, even if it means having 11 friends? Or what is a polite way to decline?
A: Most social media sites save users the trouble of figuring out how politely to say “I don’t want to be your friend” by allowing them to decline without actually informing the person making the request. Miss Manners does not agree with this implementation. She does agree that you are not bound to engage in unwelcome social interactions.
Q: A cousin who remarried informed me that not only has she taken her husband’s last name, but she has also changed her first name. A friend did this some years ago, but answers to both first names, old and new.
Is it recommended to honor the new first-name identity and offensive to retain the familiar first name? Retroactive first-naming feels like losing ties that bound — especially when one interacts infrequently, over long distances.
A: Changing first names upon marrying is a new idea to Miss Manners. She wonders whether it is the bride’s intention, by changing her entire name, to loosen old ties by disappearing. But assuming this is not the case, it is correct to address her by her new name.
Q: I have a co-worker who is late to work almost daily. Two or three times a week the co-worker makes herself even later by stopping to pick up coffee or breakfast sandwiches.
She calls the office while driving to pick up the items to see whether anyone would want her to get anything, with the expectation that she wishes to be repaid despite this being an effort to apologize for being late.
I’m just curious, if I am ever running late myself, which would be more appropriate: to be late and empty-handed, or to be even later with a snack in hand?
A: Your question, even if facetious, raises a genuine issue: To whom is an apology due from a late co-worker? Her colleagues, including yourself, may feel wronged, either because their own work — or workload — may suffer in consequence, or because it is unfair that standards of timeliness are not applied uniformly. Or they may not care and appreciate the catering.
But it is the business that is being harmed, and therefore it is the boss to whom the co-worker first owes an apology. It is also the boss to whom you and your colleagues can take their complaints. One assumes that the boss would rather have a laborer than a latte, free or otherwise.
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.