Life Advice



I Hate Being Rude To My Robot Assistant

Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin on

She has held a grudge for months now, and several times she has mentioned that she's buying something for someone who helped her out. She comments on "what good friends she has" who will "do anything for her."

I feel this is a dig at me. The other day, she said, "I won't ever ask you to do anything again because you told me no." We then had an argument and are no longer speaking. Am I wrong? Should I apologize?

GENTLE READER: It is likely not the fact that you said no, but the casual manner with which you effectively said "I don't feel like it" that your friend found so offensive.

Miss Manners is not encouraging you to lie, only that it is unnecessary to disclose the entire insulting truth. She wishes that she could persuade her Gentle Readers to stop "just being honest" and to start using the phrase, "I am afraid that I can't." Unnecessarily hurt feelings are so often the result of the former.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I often eat at restaurants alone, and I enjoy the solitude. However, strangers at a nearby table will often start conversations with me, wanting to keep talking throughout my entire meal. Is there a polite way to tell them I'm not interested in chit-chatting with them?


GENTLE READER: Bring a book, which has a heavier presence than a telephone. And then when you are ready to end the conversation, smile and say that you must get back to it. Even, Miss Manners suggests, if its pages are blank.


(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email,; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

Copyright 2022 Judith Martin



blog comments powered by Disqus


Steve Benson Dinette Set Arctic Circle Baby Blues Herb and Jamaal Cul de Sac