The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Miss Manners: New neighbors don’t want to raise a stink about smoke

Dear Miss Manners: My husband and I live in a large condo community. In beautiful weather, we often keep our windows and the sliding glass door to our balcony open.

Some new people moved into the apartment below us, and several times each day, we noticed an extremely pungent cloud of marijuana smoke enter our apartment. I cannot overstate the strength of the smell-cloud that enters our place — it feels like he's blowing it directly into our faces.

We tried to work out the mechanics of how this was happening, and we think the neighbor is standing just outside his door, probably so as not to be seen, and releasing the smoke straight up.

We hemmed and hawed endlessly about how to approach our new neighbors about this. This is a community where no one really knows one another, even before the pandemic, so we've never interacted with them, even though we share a stairwell.

We thought a well-written note would do, but we weren't pleased with the thought of our relationship starting with a stern note asking them to do what may be impossible (find a way to control your smoke). An in-person conversation seemed even more daunting, though this is what most of our pot-smoking friends recommended. Calling the police is not something we want to do at all — we have no problem with their smoking pot, even though it is still illegal in our state.

We ended up just closing the door and windows on that side of the apartment every time we started to smell it. There may have been a few days of annoyed door-slamming, hoping they'd get the hint. No dice.

I'd like to figure out the friendliest, most polite way to open a conversation about this. What would Miss Manners recommend?

“I am sure that you’re not aware, but your smoke comes directly up to our apartment. I wonder if you’d be willing to enjoy your materials off to the side instead.”

Dear Miss Manners: I am so fortunate and grateful for my dentist and his dental team. What is an appropriate thank-you gift? I have yet to see plants or flowers in the office. I bought a thank-you card once, but did not send it. It seemed not to express the depth of gratitude in proportion to the care they provide.

Childhood dental trauma led to adult PTSD, and I can be quite a lot to deal with sometimes. I am much better now, due to my continued hard work and their consistent patience and compassion.

At the outset of your inquiry, Miss Manners would have said flowers and a note were perfectly suitable. Depending on your definition of “a lot to deal with,” however, she fears that something more like a statue erected in their honor might be in order.

As a compromise, she suggests a lovely heartfelt letter. The acknowledgment that they have made such a difference in their patient’s life will be ultimately worth (almost) more than lavish presents. Especially if, when they inevitably display the letter in their waiting room or on their website, it brings them more business.

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.

2021, by Judith Martin