Dear Miss Manners: I am living with my mother. Not wanting to freeload, I suggested she charge me rent. She seemed surprised and said she’d get back to me.
Later, when she was back to her normal self, I told her the rate was too high. She stepped out, returned as the “landlady” and asked what the problem was. I explained that the rate was more than I could afford; she told me I could either pay it or find somewhere else to live.
I decided to forget about the rent and hoped my mom would, too. However, I have now received notices of late rent and eviction. I haven’t tried to talk with my mom about this; she is normally loving and supportive, but I’m afraid she will transform into the “landlady” and kick me out — or possibly sue me for the rent and late fees I already owe.
Should I pass my mom a note explaining that I love her, but I don’t like her alter ego? That I can’t afford the rate she is trying to charge, that I would have trouble finding another place to live and that I regret ever mentioning rent? Anything else I should include?
An apology. Your mother has created this character and this entertaining little charade because she is hurt. The only way she knew how to deal with that hurt was to create an alter ego, devoid of sentiment, so she could do the role justice.
Of course, Miss Manners realizes you were only trying to pay your share, but to her, it may seem as if you are ungrateful for her kindness. You might include that in your apology and reassure her of your gratitude. A heartfelt written apology can go a long way toward mending a problem — especially when role-playing no longer proves productive.
Dear Miss Manners: I work at a small cafe that serves breakfast and lunch, and I have a co-worker who burps very loudly, very often. She burps so loudly that she startles me, plus it turns my stomach a bit.
She only says “excuse me” and apologizes after she sees my stunned face. She says she has to burp like that because she has digestive issues. I worry about what our customers think. I don’t know how to handle this.
“I have occasional digestive issues as well, but I’m sure we would all agree that you do not want me to discharge them in public. Perhaps we can compromise and have you go in the back if you feel an emission coming on — for the sake of both our staff and our customers.”
And then, Miss Manners suggests you find an alternate room for your breaks.
New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.
©2022, by Judith Martin