DEAR MISS MANNERS: My daughter deemed my response to an incessantly chattering office cleaner rude.
“D” is a younger person who cleans our office. They routinely eat lunch at the same time I do. I have listened to this individual chatter nonstop for half an hour, detailing to three different people the salad they ate last week, or the woes they have with a reprehensible roommate. I’ve seen this person continue blathering even after a victim walked away from the nonstop, inane chit-chat.
The other day, D asked me how I was, and I responded, “Fine, thanks.” I didn’t reciprocate the question, because I needed to get back to work. My daughter believes I should have asked how D was, then extracted myself with an apology and a “I need to get back to work.”
Which one of us has the more courteous response?
GENTLE READER: Let’s call them Polite Response B and Polite Response A. Although Miss Manners finds no fault starting with B, it becomes even more blameless when A has already been tried by you — and abused by D’s nattering on about C, E, F and G.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a best friend of 27 years, and I’m getting very annoyed with her.
Every time I invite her to dinner or to an event, she expects me to pay for everything. She has gone as far as asking me for a loan, for groceries, etc.
Being the nice person I am, I will lend her the money and buy her groceries, if I am able. The problem is that she will not repay me. When I confront her, she gets very angry and tells me she is in no position financially to pay me back.
She has a really good job and makes really good money. I am a single mother with only my income, which is not a lot. There was one time that I asked her for gas money, and she went ballistic. She said she doesn’t help anybody financially, then stopped talking to me.
She moved in with her sister, pays only $300 in rent and is financially supporting her 27-year-old son — she pays his rent, car payment, insurance, food, etc.
I have stopped helping her altogether and will not give in anymore. I don’t want to lose 27 years of friendship, but I don’t want to be her friend if all she’s going to do is ask for money. Please help!
GENTLE READER: If friendship were defined by longevity (rather than, say, warmth, kindness or shared interests), we would all have more friends — without being any better off.
Miss Manners mentions this because none of the acts you describe suggest this is a person with whom you should wish to maintain a relationship for 27 days, much less 27 years.
If she is mistaken, and this person has other endearing qualities, then the repeated requests for money should be refused firmly, directly and without rancor: “I’m sorry. I cannot lend you money for your groceries.”
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.