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Miss Manners: What should I do about a misdelivered plant?

Dear Miss Manners: I arrived home to find a knocked-over potted plant on my porch. It was not there before and did not belong to me. Upon righting it, I discovered a sealed card with a name on it that was neither mine nor my partner’s.

I deduced that this plant must be a gift for someone, misdelivered to the wrong address. Since all I had to go on was the name on the card’s envelope, I went into my local social media groups, trying to find this person, but have thus far been unsuccessful.

I’m at a loss as to what to do. I’ve considered opening the envelope to perhaps determine if a particular florist or nursery delivered the plant, so that I could contact the business and let them know that they misdelivered it, but opening an envelope addressed to another person is overstepping a boundary that I am not willing to cross. I’m also not willing to keep a plant that isn’t intended for me, nor am I willing to throw it out — someone evidently paid money for someone else to have it, after all.

What should I do in this situation?

Sorry, what was that? Miss Manners got distracted wondering if a knocked-over potted plant is, technically, an unpotted plant.

You are quite right not to open another person’s mail. If you cannot find any clue — perhaps a label identifying the delivery service, which can then be asked to cart it away — treat it as one used to treat any other potted guest: Give it a decent amount of time in a quiet corner to recover itself (or be reclaimed by its owner), after which you may, in good conscience, allow it to stay or pass it on to some organization that will care for it.

Dear Miss Manners: Since the pandemic has changed all of our lives, our daughter has begun opting out of family functions altogether. She makes suspicious claims that the pandemic is steering her decisions, all the while inviting her personal friends and construction/cleaning crews to her home for matters that meet her personal needs.

We are growing weary of the repeated “Thanks, but no thanks” responses to our invitations, only to hear later that she spent a weekend with friends or that her kitchen was just remodeled by a local construction crew.

Part of me wants to be a loving parent with no conditions, but I’m not very resilient when it comes to blatant rebuffs by my offspring. This has gone on since the pandemic began. I’m at my wit’s end and ready to give up.

Using a polite fiction to avoid hurting feelings is not always wrong, but when done wrong, it hurts feelings even more.

Miss Manners trusts that you realize that you may not be able to force your daughter’s attendance. But you can ask that she either dispense with the excuse — or put more effort into making it believable.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

©2022, by Judith Martin