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Miss Manners: I don’t like hearing ‘good morning’ when things aren’t good

3 min

Dear Miss Manners: After the tragedy in Uvalde, the chief of police began his statement with the greeting, “Good afternoon.”

The next day, after an understandably sleepless night, I arrived at my job — at a school — filled with grief, only to be told “Good morning!” by five different colleagues.

All of these greetings seemed insensitive considering the circumstances. Are these good manners? Is this an appropriate greeting under the circumstances?

Do you imagine, even for one second, that the police or your colleagues were enjoying the day and wishing that you would, too?

Miss Manners should not have to point out that this is a conventional greeting, not to be taken literally. Have you never said “Goodnight” on a stormy evening?

Of course your feelings are raw at such a time. So are everyone else’s. Please do not exacerbate the situation by vilifying people for delivering an automatic courtesy with no intention of ill will.

Dear Miss Manners: I don’t know how to refer to my husband who passed away. He is not my “ex,” nor my “former” husband. If someone asks, I can say he passed away, but I don’t know how to refer to him in casual conversation. Is there a proper way?

“My late husband.”

Miss Manners hopes that the conventions have not succumbed to literal interpretation to the point where people will ask you why he does not show up on time.

Dear Miss Manners: I frequently host guests overnight, and I have noticed that the toilet in the guest bathroom is often only partially flushed. I know the cause of this is my eco-friendly toilet, which requires a long flush on occasion. How can I notify guests of how to operate my toilet without embarrassing them?

You know what would really embarrass guests?

Being unable to flush the toilet successfully.

Miss Manners considers it to be a basic duty of a host to warn guests of any such traps. If you cannot say the word “toilet” without blushing, leave a small sign in the bathroom.

Dear Miss Manners: I am a mature gentleman who has been keeping company for about two years with a lovely lady somewhat my junior. We seem well suited and share many interests and activities. We enjoy lively conversation, music, dancing, the theater and are intellectually and financially well matched. We have met each other’s families and those meetings have gone well.

Now the issue: Among other thoughtful and loving gifts, she gave me not one, but four of Miss Manners' published works. I have, of course, read them thoroughly and gleaned some of the finer points of etiquette.

Is there a hidden meaning in this gift? Should I infer that she finds my manners lacking? Could it be that my setting only one fork, one spoon and one knife for our informal family dinners is horribly offensive to her? Could it be something more egregious? Please help!

Certainly. The hidden meaning is that you are a gentleman and that you have a sense of humor.

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