Advice Columns

Miss Manners: Let go of cruel comment made several months ago

niversal Uclick

DEAR MISS MANNERS: At a church supper, I clearly heard an acquaintance say that all suicide is because of self-pity.

Not only am I a mental health professional, but I have a personal history of suicidal feelings of my own. This woman’s remark was cruel and downright evil.

Of course, I couldn’t say anything in that setting, and she was also sitting directly across a large, full table from me. So although I ended up saying nothing, and that was several months ago, it still bothers me.

Should I still respond in some way? If so, how? I’m sure she didn’t know I overheard the remark. I’m sure that, by now, she has forgotten she said it.

Is there anything I can do to advocate for people who are hurting from depression, or should I just chalk it up to ignorance and forget it?

GENTLE READER: There is not much you can do about it now, since the comment was made months ago and not addressed to you. If something similar happens to you, Miss Manners suggests quietly saying, “I assume you’ve been fortunate enough not to encounter this situation.”

Leave it at that. There are more effective ways to channel your desire to be an advocate than embarrassing individuals, which rarely works.

Free counseling

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Who pays for premarital counseling? The future bride or the groom?

GENTLE READER: If they can’t figure that out on their own, Miss Manners will offer them some free counseling: Don’t get married.

Unwanted lunchmate

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Several months ago, two co-workers and I started a monthly tradition of “girls” lunch out of the office. At the time, we didn’t know each other very well, and it became apparent almost immediately that one of the co-workers was going to be a problem.

She is rude and demanding to the wait staff and always sends her meals back. At our last lunch, she actually banged her fists on the table while screaming at the waitress. By the time we paid our separate bills, the poor waitress was holding back tears. She is a lousy tipper to boot, and I always overtip to compensate for her stinginess.

Needless to say, the two of us want nothing to do with any future lunches out with this co-worker. The problem is that we still need to retain a cordial work relationship with her. How do we diplomatically tell her that from now on our lunch trio is only a duo?

GENTLE READER: Make it a duo dinner.

Not only is there no diplomatic way to tell her that you are firing her from lunch, but there is no way to escape being seen by her if you go off to lunch together.

Miss Manners notes that you can, however, suspend the regular lunches and resort to meeting on the side, on your own time, as others do who have even stronger reasons not to be observed.

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,; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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