DEAR MISS MANNERS: How does one inquire if a woman is married or not? My friend told me to look for a wedding band on the ring finger of her left hand, but what if she is not wearing one?

Is it appropriate to inquire? I don’t know the woman very well. I have talked with her briefly, and she works in a different department at work.

GENTLE READER: You should assume that she is married.

By that, Miss Manners does not mean that you need give up your hopes. She is only suggesting that you make a benign inquiry about her husband, either to her or to someone who knows her: Is he from around here, or is he in the same business? If there is no such person, that is the answer you will be given.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My job is highly customer service-oriented, in person and on the phone. When I have been able to help callers, they usually end the conversation with, “I appreciate your help,” to which I respond, “You’re welcome.” They then follow this with, “Thank you.”

I interpret the “I appreciate your help” as a form of “Thank you,” but am I wrong in responding with, “You’re welcome?” I don’t want callers to think I’m prompting them to say “Thank you.”

Your response will be much appreciated. Thank you.

GENTLE READER: You’re wel....

Oh, no! Miss Manners was caught in the same loop, trying to jump in between your two statements of appreciation. And the conventional response to such appreciation is “You’re welcome,” although it is rapidly losing ground to “No problem.”

The latter would solve your problem, but you should be aware that it annoys some people. A less pat way of saying it would be, “I was glad to be able to help.”

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband’s high school class is having its 40-year reunion this summer. We have gone twice in the past, mainly because it gave him a chance to reconnect with an old girlfriend with whom he remained close.

I had no problems with the friendship — she was lovely — but I generally got stuck trying to hold a conversation with her drug-addled husband while the two of them reminisced.

Sadly, his friend passed away a few years ago, so I thought this issue would go away, but he wants to attend this year. I know no one from the group, and I find myself not liking the person that Hubby becomes when we go. He tends to exaggerate his accomplishments to the point where I hardly recognize the life he describes as one I have shared for 38 years.

I have asked if he’d mind if I didn’t attend and he said no, but am I being a terrible person and a bad wife by not wanting to spend most of a weekend being bored and irritated at this event?

GENTLE READER: Your husband doesn’t mind, the reunion committee doesn’t care, so why are you asking Miss Manners? Please stay home and have a good time.

Visit Miss Manners at her Web site,, where you can send her your questions.

2012, by Judith Martin

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