Miss Manners: Canceled invitation gets lost in casual online use

June 30

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am 14 years old. As you may know, many people my age (including myself) have joined the popular social networking sites.

I had planned a sleepover with a friend of mine, not someone I see at school every day. I do not go to the site often, but that evening I was waiting for her to arrive and I went online. I then saw that a few days ago she had sent me a message there, telling me that she could no longer come to my sleepover.

I found this very rude. What if I had not checked my account at that time? I could have just sat there for an hour like a silly goose and not have known that she canceled. Wouldn’t the right thing to do have been for her to at least call me? Please address this, what I think was a very unmannerly, horrible incident.

GENTLE READER: Yes, and Miss Manners is even less casual than you are about a guest’s canceling an invitation once accepted.

But assuming that you find your friend’s reasons compelling, let us deal with the manner in which she did so. Someone who mails you a conventional letter at an address that you have supplied can reasonably expect that you will receive it. This is true even today, when modern technology provides a plethora of ways to receive correspondence without supplying additional eyes and ears with which to process it.

But when canceling an invitation, there is a special burden on the ex-guest to see that the message is received. When your friend did not hear from you on the social network site, she should have proceeded through other forms of communication until she made contact.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am currently divorced. My ex-wife just got married to a woman. For the longest time, I was playing the field, and now I have a girlfriend.

I am quite cordial with my ex and want to introduce her new spouse to my new girlfriend. How should I address her spouse?

GENTLE READER: Both ladies have names, Miss Manners supposes. And both have had ample opportunity to learn the various relationships involved, so you need only introduce them by name.

When introducing either to others, it would actually be the simpler to say “my former wife and her wife,” with their names, and simply the name of your friend, rather than dealing with the awkward question of whether your friend is a girlfriend, partner, or whichever term you find least awkward.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I take taxis to the airport about four or five times per year. Most drivers take the direct route, but a fair number will take a slightly longer route to up the fare.

What is the proper etiquette for what to do when this happens? Skip the tip? Argue over the bill? Pretend nothing happened?

GENTLE READER: None of the above. Miss Manners urges you to speak up — and quickly. Specify your preferred route when you give your destination. This will forestall any contemplated dishonesty — and you may even learn that the driver was actually trying to save you money by avoiding a delay of which you were unaware.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays on www.washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her Web site, www.missmanners.com.

2014, by Judith Martin

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