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Miss Manners: My friend gave me a gift made by someone who bullies me

3 min

Dear Miss Manners: I am good friends with a woman, and we have a mutual acquaintance, Jason. He is a bully and has low-key harassed me over the years. I do my very best to avoid him and his wife, which works, for the most part.

I have not told my friend about Jason’s meanness and bullying, because I don’t need to drag her into it. Unfortunately, she gave me a gift that was made by Jason and his wife. I did not want this item in my house and donated it the next day to a thrift store.

Now I feel bad, as my friend spent a good amount of money for this item. I am wondering if I should have gently advised her of the situation, graciously declined the gift and let her pass it along to someone who would have appreciated it. She is totally unaware of the hurt this man and his wife have caused me, and she was very generous with this gift.

Is there something else I should have done? What do I do if it happens again?

The idea that it is possible to harass someone in a low-key way is, Miss Manners realizes, not unique to you. But she cannot help noticing that the illogic of simultaneously hyping and downplaying whatever happened is what led to your present confusion.

If you were harassed, then you may have a duty to warn your friend about Jason. If, instead, the behavior was merely annoying or insulting, without being harassing, then your instinct not to drag your friend into it was the right one.

Dear Miss Manners: When one has received a book as a present, should one wait until skimming or reading the book to comment on it in the thank-you response? Or should the thank-you be immediate, saving all comments on the book for another communication?

Thank the giver now, before reading the book. If you then like it, then it will give you something to talk about when next you meet. If you hate the book, but are asked about it, you can repeat how much you are looking forward to reading it.

Dear Miss Manners: Answering the phone is not my job, but I still do so about 10 or 12 times a day. Often, people hang up without saying anything.

I assume this is because they realize they have dialed the wrong number. But I was under the impression that it’s rude to hang up silently and that one should apologize briefly. When wrong-number callers say something, at least I know that the phone call was not an important call with a dropped connection.

You are correct that hanging up on another person is rude, but Miss Manners, uncharacteristically, will make one, small concession to the Efficiency Over Etiquette crowd:

If you, as the mis-caller, can hang up quickly enough to believe, in your heart, that the call did not go through, she is willing to overlook a single, stray beep from another electronic device she never really wanted.

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.

© 2023 Judith Martin