DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a hostess in a family restaurant, and today I had a couple of young parents come in with an infant about 7 months old. I seated them in a lovely booth near the entrance of the restaurant.

To my dismay, they changed their baby’s diaper right on their table. Then, they signaled me to come over, and when I arrived at their table, the woman held out the soiled diaper and asked me to dispose of it!

I said simply, “I don’t have any place to dispose of your baby’s diaper, but there is a ladies’ room down the hall.” She was obviously annoyed and said, “Oh, come on! Surely you can put it in one of the bus trays for us!”

I couldn’t help myself, and so I answered, “We don’t want your baby’s soiled diaper in our bus trays; we cart dishes in those trays.”

She became furious and demanded to speak with my supervisor. When she learned that my supervisor was not present, she demanded the phone number for the corporate entity that owns the restaurant, stating that she would make a complaint about me.

Miss Manners, how would you have handled her?

GENTLE READER: Without making physical contact.

Expressing concern for the health and hygiene of other customers and employees is perfectly reasonable, as long as it is done politely. If necessary, you can blame health department regulations.

Miss Manners would hope that any corporate entity would agree — and assures you that she will be none too quick to frequent the establishment of one that does not.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: There’s an urgent situation here regarding this year’s lack of rainfall and water shortages. We’re all going to have to cut back and be aware of our consumption, or else it’s going to get pretty desperate.

One thing that really bothers me is the habit I see at work where certain people will flush the toilet before using it, thus wasting close to 3 gallons of water with each flush!

How can anyone approach these people in a work situation without it looking like they’re being singled out? It’s very upsetting to hear that we can’t grow food while I watch these people at work waste water with each trip to the loo.

GENTLE READER: Put up a sign in the bathroom that says, “Please be mindful of our water shortage and limit your usage as much as possible.” By displaying the sign for all, no individual is singled out.

Miss Manners will politely refrain, however, from inquiring as to how you seem so keenly aware of your co-worker’s flushing habits.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My in-laws have graciously contributed a large amount of money for my husband and me to buy a very nice new car.

(1) How do I respond to people inquiring as to how we are able to afford such a nice car, and (2) How do I thank my in-laws?

GENTLE READER: (1) You don’t. The question is rude and requires nothing more than a weak smile or change in subject. (2) Profusely.

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

2014, by Judith Martin