Dear Miss Manners: Please tell me if it is proper to take the complimentary sets of soaps, lotions, shower caps etc. from your hotel room. If you are staying more than one day, can you take them on a daily basis? My husband says no, and I say yes.
The rule — back when hotels provided actual bars of soap and actual bottles of shampoo — was to use only what you required on-site.
Too few people followed the rule, however, which caused the hotels to switch to sample-size products, a euphemism for “microscopic.” As these are intended to be thrown out each time the room changes hands, Miss Manners throws up her hands if you choose to make off with the remaining drops rather than allow them to go to waste. She remains firmly opposed to hiding half-full bottles to force replacement and to ransacking the supply cart.
Dear Miss Manners: I belong to a wonderful family gym. The class I attend has its regulars, and we support one another in accomplishing our fitness goals in the daily classes. I have been attending regularly with my 15-year-old son for almost a year now.
One day in class, a fellow female gym-mate invited me to have dinner "with us" after class, and I accepted the offer. I asked her if it's okay if my son joined, as we both know her from the gym and work out alongside each other. She said "yes" with a smile and enthusiasm.
When my son and I arrived at the dinner after the workout, we immediately realized this was a by-invite-only event and all those in attendance were female adults.
Needless to say, I was ready to leave soon after arriving. Not only that, but all those in attendance, with the exception of myself and my son, had contributed to a going-away gift, which was presented to the hostess at the dinner. We both felt very awkward and soon after left.
Was it rude to leave early, or should I have ignored my feelings and endured the entire dinner? I feel awkward now going back to the gym. How should I approach these women?
There is a common misperception that awkwardness, because it is uncomfortable, is also intolerable. This is not the case, which is why Miss Manners can appreciate what an unpleasant surprise it was for your son to see the other guests when you arrived, without her therefore giving you permission to beat a hasty retreat.
Your hostess was not taken by surprise, having given her express permission. And anyway, teenage boys all need to learn to interact with adults — even adult women — sometime. This should have been easier given that he was doing so at the gym.
Dampen your own — unnecessary — embarrassment so that you can reassure your son that he has no reason for a similar feeling, either upon returning to the gym or, had you remained, being social at the party.