The Washington Post

Miss Manners: Let visiting relatives do their laundry if they wish

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I disagree on the subject of what constitutes a house guest overstepping the line when it comes to laundry. His family comes to visit us once a year — usually for one week — and he feels it’s okay for them to have unlimited laundry privileges.

They will want to do a load about every other day, and always right before leaving, which makes me feel taken advantage of. For the time span of their visit, I feel like one load is plenty — two would be the max if there was an unexpected problem. Please let us know what is appropriate.

GENTLE READER: You really dislike your in-laws, don’t you?

As Miss Manners understands it, they visit once a year for a week, so laundry every second day would be four times a year — at most. Apparently they do not ask you to do it, but only to use your washing machine.

Small acts of sabotage are unlikely to curb these visits. These are your husband’s relatives, and he disapproves of your ploy. It will only make you look petty and inhospitable, to him as well as to them.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a senior citizen who is quite often unseated on public transportation by someone younger and fitter than I am. Yesterday, after I had taken the last seat, I noticed that someone even older and less fit than I was being outraced by a man in his early 20s. I stood up and gave the loser of the race my seat.

So far, so good, as far as my behavior was concerned.

Now the evil part: I was really tempted to say to the young man who had won the race, “If you’re disabled, please keep your seat,” or “If you’re disabled, don’t get up. I’ll give her my seat.”

Later, as I sat there watching him in his oblivion, I wanted to whip out my camera and ask, “Do you mind if I take a picture of you sitting beneath the sign saying, ‘The law requires you to make seats available to seniors and persons with disabilities’?”

Once, when I was really tired and traveling with someone 10 years older than I am, I actually told a young couple, “Thanks for saving these seats for us. You can get up now.” (They did.)

What can I do to keep myself from behaving in a way that Miss Manners would not approve — or a way that will get me shot?

GENTLE READER: If you are shot, you may take comfort in knowing that the shooter was behaving worse than you. If, however, you decided that the behavior of others justifies your retaliating in kind, you would be no better.

Worse, Miss Manners would say, because you would be pretending to be correcting the very behavior you are practicing.

But you didn’t. You squelched your impulses to be rude and came up with a way of allowing the couple to vacate their seats without being embarrassed. Congratulations.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her Web site,

, by Judith Martin

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