DEAR MISS MANNERS: When arriving as a guest, how long is considered polite before you ask the hosts for their Wi-Fi password? This is a burning question right now on social media.
GENTLE READER: How long are you planning to stay? If you were invited only to dinner, Miss Manners fears there is no good time to announce that you have more pressing things to do than enjoy your hosts’ and other guests’ company.
Apparently many who live on social media miss the purpose of a live social visit, which is to be social.
So at a limited such gathering, there should hardly be a need for Wi-Fi — unless you are urged to look up something factual. (Ah, Miss Manners misses the days when friendly bets were waged upon the outcome of a fact that could only be remembered in hindsight or looked up in the encyclopedia.)
In that case, one could politely ask if it would be all right to use the connection. Or at the end of the engagement, you could ask for it to book a taxicab, for instance.
If you are a longer-term guest, the same is true, but the excuse might be better — checking flight information being more acceptable than checking dating Web sites. Then you may ask when you are given the towels — in other words, after the normal civilities of greeting have been completed.
There should not be an assumption of use, though, as your question implies. She has heard far too many complaints about readers’ generosity and limited plans being abused by guests with unlimited needs.
People who live in constant fear of dire emergencies — and the world does seem to be full of these poor anxiety-ridden souls — should invest in alternative ways of connecting. Or stay at the source of the potential emergency so they can act quickly instead of having to be summoned from afar.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: In an office setting, is it proper to ask each person who is donating money to give a check instead of cash?
I am currently collecting money for my boss, whose daughter is getting married. We want to go in for a credit company gift card, but now I am getting some donations for $50, $360 and $150. Would it be proper if each person wrote out a check to the bride instead of me?
GENTLE READER: It is improper for employees to be dunned at work for personal favors. It is worse that the indirect recipient is your boss, who is supposed to pay you, not to collect from you. And Miss Manners’s objection to cash in place of a more thoughtful present is well known.
She therefore thinks it would be highly proper of you to divest yourself of the entire enterprise. If you cannot stick someone else with the job, she suggests giving back the money you have collected and telling those employees who were invited to the wedding to decide individually about giving presents.