Please Stop Bringing Me Plants To Kill!
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a friend who continually brings a potted flower whenever she comes to visit. Although I very much welcome her visits, I have a difficult time caring for plants and I end up struggling to keep them alive -- a struggle that I would like to avoid.
The truth of the matter is that a gift of any type is unnecessary. Is there a courteous way of telling my friend, without hurting her feelings, that I do not want plants, and that anything else -- or nothing at all -- would be perfectly fine?
GENTLE READER: Show her your dead plant. "I am afraid that I am hopeless when it comes to taking care of these. I wouldn't want our visits to be marred by blood on our mutual hands."
If this inadvertently results in getting a lesson in plant care, well, you can thank Miss Manners for that later.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: At work, a graphic design position opened up and I mentioned it to a young person I knew, suggesting that she apply. She was studying that field in her college courses, and the position would help start her career. She got the job. We became "Work Friends" and things went well.
Later, when my daughter was getting married and wanted to have someone design her invitations, I suggested my young Work Friend. The design was lovely, my daughter paid her for the invitations and I thought that was that.
But a couple weeks or so before the ceremony, Work Friend told me that she wanted me to get her and her husband invitations to the wedding. She really wanted to go to the ceremony.
I was taken aback by this request for these reasons: My daughter had only hired her to do a job; my daughter had not invited Work Friend and had never even suggested to me that she wanted to; and my daughter had never met Work Friend before the meeting about the invitations. Along with those things, it was my daughter's wedding, and it wasn't my place to weigh in on who was invited.
I gently stumbled around a bit, talking about how she was hired to do a job, professional relationships versus personal, etc., and did not comply with her request. I only mentioned it to my daughter after the wedding, and she agreed with me that the request was odd.
I felt like Work Friend seriously overstepped her bounds in asking me to do this, and in the hurt feelings she displayed afterward. She became less of a friend and more just a co-worker. I was left feeling that she really had expected me to step in and make that request (demand?) of my daughter. What could I have done better?
GENTLE READER: Clearly Work Friend was rude to try to procure an invitation, so your stumbling was warranted. But in her mind, your explanation was rubbing in the fact that Work Friend was not actually Real Friend. And that is why she was insulted.
To lessen the offense, Miss Manners might have suggested instead: "I am afraid it is an intimate wedding." Notice the word "intimate" is used and not "small," since it is likely that Work Friend knew exactly how many people were invited -- if not from the work order, then from the phrasing of the invitation.
"Intimate" implies that only guests who intimately know the couple were included -- as subjective as that criterion might be.
(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.)
Copyright 2022 Judith MartinCOPYRIGHT 2022 JUDITH MARTIN