Q: What is a host’s obligation to warn a guest when things won’t be as the guest expects?
For example, hearing this upon arrival: We were going to get a mattress but we didn’t, so here’s the floor.
Or: By the way, I didn’t tell you that I have three roommates, each of whom has two guests, for the one bathroom we share.
Or: The guest bathroom doesn’t work, but feel free to use the one in our bedroom (with the aggressive dog that barks loudly if you walk in there at 3 a.m.).
For one offer, I asked about this beforehand, joking that if they had four kids and eight cats, I’d get a room. But if you are already there, is it rude to suggest you would prefer to stay somewhere else, and how do you do this without giving offense?
A: Hosts who do not provide accessible bathrooms to overnight guests run risks that Miss Manners would rather not contemplate. It is certainly not polite.
A guest may say: “Thank you so much. I completely understand. Rather than inconvenience everyone, we are happy to stay at the hotel down the road.” But there is still the risk that the host will take offense. The decision to decamp should therefore be balanced against the severity of the inconvenience.
Q: My father just passed away on Wednesday and was buried on Saturday. I was sick all week from the flu and did not attend.
My family is upset and giving me a hard time about it, saying I should have gone and just sat in back away from everyone. I say other than feeling bad, I should not have gone and spread germs to the people attending.
Who is correct, and should sick people attend funerals? What do I say to my family and friends who question why I did not go?
A: There are a number of things that, while perhaps true, you should definitely not say. Being on death’s door yourself is an excellent reason not to attend a funeral.
But anything less will be heard, by those looking to criticize, as a variation on, “I didn’t feel up to it.” Your family and friends will then naturally wonder if there is any time that one actually wants to attend a funeral. Or at least any time when one can publicly admit it. Your only correct response to your family is, “It broke my heart that I wasn’t able to go.”
Q: I have a good friend, not best friend, whose husband passed away five years ago. Since then, she has asked me to make contributions to her two favorite cancer charities, one in the spring and the second in the fall. She also wants participation in cancer races and walks.
It is not reciprocal. I have never asked her to donate to my favorite cancer cause because I think you don’t ask friends for money more than once for charity, if that. I write my own checks. I think she is taking advantage of the friendship. How can I stop giving her money without damaging the friendship?
A: With the firm but polite statement that you already donate money to a cancer cause. If this does not stop the appeals, Miss Manners would say that the friendship is already damaged.
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.