Miss Manners: Give old neighbors new address without reason for moving

October 29, 2012

DEAR MISS MANNERS: We moved from our home of seven years when the bank would not renegotiate our mortgage and chose to foreclose. As is common, there was a substantial shortfall (several million).

The house ended up selling for 10 percent less than we paid for it, and 40 percent less than our basis after improvements. We may be able to avoid bankruptcy, but it is not clear at this time. Perhaps this is too much information, but it helps you better understand our situation.

One of our neighbors who was aware of the situation called me and said he was sorry for our misfortune. His call was greatly appreciated. I’m sure the other neighbors were aware as well, but never said anything. Actually, I think we were probably the talk of the neighborhood.

Nevertheless, should I notify our other neighbors of our new address, mentioning that our personal circumstances have changed, or just move on?

GENTLE READER: Having literally moved on, you can easily move on socially; no explanation is necessary. But Miss Manners is dismayed at the implication that you were on cordial terms with the neighbors you left behind, but now believe that they are gossiping unsympathetically about your plight.

It was kind of one person to commiserate, but others might feel that it would be intrusive to acknowledge that they know about your financial plight — if, indeed, they do. In either case, your moving away without a word would seem as if you were the one to cut them off, not they, you.

It would be graceful to assume the best of them and send your new address. But please leave out the part about your personal circumstances. That is only asking for gossip, and the misinterpretation that you are expecting them to give you more than sympathy.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the appropriate response if someone tells you she is putting you in her will?

I was stunned when my cousin told me she was putting me in hers, and I just said thank you. But I was curious to know more! Is it bad manners to pursue and ask questions? Can you ask how much?

GENTLE READER: Yes, that is bad, and it is even worse to ask how long until you get it, which is what any probing for particulars is bound to suggest. The proper response is to lace your profuse thanks with the hope that it will be a long, long time before the will is needed.

Need Miss Manners remind you that wills can be changed?

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Eighty-five percent of the players’ parents have made a donation toward a gift for our coach. I don’t want to say this gift is from the team, because some did not contribute. Am I being selfish?

GENTLE READER: No, just petty. Well, generous at the same time, Miss Manners acknowledges, because you wanted to do something for the coach.

But those who organize group presents often blithely assume that it is only fair that everyone divide the cost. And usually they have unilaterally declared the need, selected the item and declared the price. They then get angry, as you have, at those who do not pay, some of whom may have been unable to do so without hardship.

Please try to think of this, instead, as a team effort. When the team wins or loses, everyone does, even those who did not directly participate in that game.

Visit Miss Manners at her Web site, www.missmanners.com, where you can send her your questions.

2012, by Judith Martin

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