Miss Manners: Host with good attitude trumps rude guests

February 4, 2014

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I hosted a football watch party where I instructed guests to arrive at a certain time and that I would be providing food and beverages for everyone.

My sister and her family arrived two hours late and were upset to discover all the food was gone. I hurriedly offered to make more food, and she then proceeded to instruct me on what not to put in the dish because her children had various allergies.

Am I wrong to feel annoyed at her behavior? While I understand that as a hostess I should strive to make my guests feel as comfortable as possible, I felt her demands were unreasonable.

GENTLE READER: Did she also expect you to have recorded the game, so that you could show her whatever she missed?

Arriving two hours late, short of an emergency, and being visibly upset are, indeed, rude, although reminding you of the children’s allergies as you look for additional food is not unreasonable. But while your sister exhibited bad guest behavior, Miss Manners commends you for exhibiting good host behavior.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: In the elementary school where I work, our principal is a lovely woman. A fabricated recognition for bosses (Bosses Day) came and went without us teachers giving her a gift. (Can the shame be outlived?)

Well, one fellow teacher won’t let it go. She wants us all to contribute to a card and a gift.

I think I remember you saying once that it is inappropriate for an employee to give a gift to the boss, lest it be interpreted as something akin to a bribe or something like that. I don’t want to give my boss a gift, but of course I’ll look like a malcontent. What say you, Miss Manners?

GENTLE READER: As a teacher, you are aware of the power of peer pressure. It is time to put that knowledge to work.

Miss Manners recommends that you explain to the other teachers why this is a bad idea: It will establish a bad precedent; it will look like toadying; it will cost everyone money; and it may well embarrass the boss. When others agree, the lone holdout will have to concede.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: As a frequent patron of casual dining and fast-food establishments, I often encounter a staff member who is cleaning, spraying or sweeping within inches of my table and my food.

I realize that these are not fine-dining restaurants, which offer ambience as well as a dining experience, and that their high customer turnover requires tables to be washed and spills to be cleaned. However, I find it extremely distasteful sharing my sandwich with a broom or spray rag.

Could Miss Manners suggest an appropriate comment that I may offer to the offending employee? Or would Miss Manners approve if I left an anonymous clipping of Miss Manners’s response for the establishment’s manager?

GENTLE READER: Please do not leave such a clipping. Miss Manners fears the manager would exacerbate your problem by ordering its immediate disposal.

Instead, thank the broom wielder for his efforts, and then ask if there is a section that has already been cleaned, in which you might finish your meal. If this does not work with the employee, repeat with the manager.

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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