Dear Miss Manners: I am a single mother and am experienced in different types of home repair. Yet at large family gatherings, at least one male relative always boldly announces to the gathering that he is going to help me in some way.
They don't tell me this privately; this is a sweeping declaration. The gathering then comments on their kindness and what good people they are. I have never asked, or even hinted, that I would like this help.
Miss Manners, these declarations are annoying for two reasons. First, they are rarely acted upon. Even a gentle follow-up asking when I could take them up on the offer is put off to "sometime." The second is that the few times they do come out, it ends up being a disaster for me. Each time, they have left the situation worse.
The understanding is that I will pay for any parts needed. That is reasonable, except that they buy incorrect or unnecessary parts. They eat all my food, ask for constant affirmation and leave a huge mess.
Each time, I have had to hire someone else to redo their work. In most of these situations, I could have fixed the problem myself quicker, cheaper and better.
These grand statements are made for their own gratification. How do I respond without coming across as an ungrateful bore? I do not like to call people out in front of others. In past years, I have just swallowed my words and sat silently. I have simply absorbed the expense in the name of family peace or said nothing knowing they would never come. Is there a gracious response I can employ?
“Thank you, but actually, I’m pretty good at most household repairs. I’ll call you if I need help, but in the meantime, please call me if you do.”
Dear Miss Manners: When congratulating someone for winning an award or getting a position, what is the time frame for doing so without it being an afterthought? When has too much time passed?
Nowadays, when awards are being revoked for bad behavior, Miss Manners considers it wise to act quickly.
Dear Miss Manners: My husband and I recently dined at our favorite restaurant, which has undergone an update of the decor, including new plates that are slightly scooped. Said plates are lovely and add a modern flair.
However, if one needs to rest a knife or fork on the edge of the plate, it is impossible. The utensil either slides onto the table or into the food.
What does one do when you must put down a utensil or two to pass the rolls?
Get the tablecloth dirty.
Miss Manners is not saying this is your best practice, but she also does not see another option. When the server comes around to collect your plate, you may say, “I am so sorry for the stains, but our plates, while beautiful, seem to have trouble holding our utensils.” With copious amounts of dirty laundry, the restaurant may find that they are due for yet another update in decor.