DEAR MISS MANNERS: I saw a post on social media that was a link to a Web site for friends to donate to a couple who recently bought a house. This couple justified this by writing they were never going to have a wedding and suggested people think of the savings of not having to purchase formal wear to attend a wedding. Instead, they are asking for donations to purchase things and make upgrades on their new home.
I know my feelings on the subject, but was curious how Miss Manners feels about this request.
GENTLE READER: Really? You can’t guess Miss Manners’s feelings about this?
Chiefly she feels that it must be hard to resist telling them, “That’s very considerate, but you needn’t have worried about me. I wouldn’t have gone to your wedding anyway.”
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a college student studying abroad on a budget in London, a very expensive city. I’d love to bring home gifts for many of my friends and family, but feel that it isn’t financially feasible to do so for more than a few people.
Should I buy gifts only for my closest friends, not all of whom have gotten me gifts when they went abroad? Buy something small and affordable for a wider circle of people?
Should I bother buying gifts if the only affordable ones I can find are cliche touristy gifts (mugs or clothes with “London” emblazoned on them), rather than gifts that really appeal to my friends’ and family members’ interests and that they would actually appreciate?
GENTLE READER: Etiquette does not require returning from a trip laden with presents for everyone you left behind. As an optional gesture, it can be delightful, but as a habit it only encourages others to replace “Welcome home!” with “What did you bring me?”
Miss Manners hopes that your friends are not in the habit of giving you silly souvenirs of places you did not go. The last she checked, London was full of secondhand book stores where you might find something to address their individual interests.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I work in a public library. Two colleagues here have habits that will, under proper circumstances, send me screaming into the night.
One blithers and dithers; she cannot make a simple request (“Can you work on the reference desk today from 1 to 3?”) without going into a song and dance about why she is asking me to change my schedule.
The other giggles at the end of every sentence she says — even when giggling is not appropriate. Is there a polite way to ask them to change their annoying habits?
GENTLE READER: No. The habits of your colleagues are not rude, just maddening (to you, that is; others might consider them charming), so it would be impolite to admonish them.
However, you have the advantage of working in a place that values silence. If you are in a designated quiet area, you may apologetically shush them in the name of professionalism. And if you are not, Miss Manners permits you to plead old habit.