DEAR MISS MANNERS: I recently purchased a condo for the first time. All of my friends are either renting or still living with their parents. Many of them have been supportive of and excited for me. They all cannot wait until I have a housewarming party.
The problem is that I'm going to be financially tight after my settlement and closing. I would be happy to spend a little extra money for food and drinks for a small party if I knew that I'd be getting something in return.
However, I'm not sure my friends necessarily realize that it is customary to bring the homeowner gifts at such a party. Also, I fear that the gifts they do bring will be relatively unnecessary and useless; after all, how are people in their early 20s supposed to know what a homeowner needs and what is proper? What should I do?
GENTLE READER: You would be misleading your well-wishers to characterize the event you suggest as a party. It sounds to Miss Manners more like a real estate event at which drinks are served in the hope of encouraging warm feelings and fuzzy thinking that might lead to putting money into a questionable deal.
Your friends apparently already have warm feelings toward you. Whether they, who cannot yet afford to buy homes of their own, would like to help pay for yours, Miss Manners cannot say. It does not strike her as a good deal for an investment in friendship.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: In the subway I ride to work, the cars are frequently very crowded. Occasionally, I will find myself in a position where the only pole that is available for me to hold onto is being entirely occupied by one person, who is leaning against it.
As I have always understood it, leaning against a pole, rather than grasping it, is a violation of subway etiquette, at least when the car is crowded.
In the past, I have usually just grasped the pole as I could, and hoped that the feeling of my knuckles digging into the person's back would cause them to turn around and hold onto the pole with their hand, freeing pole space and me from the necessity of touching a stranger. However, this method doesn't often seem to work.
Is there a polite way to confront these violators? After all, it is another breach of subway etiquette to speak to strangers (unless there is an unusual event, of course). On the occasions when I have tried a gentle request not to lean, I have usually met with hostility.
GENTLE READER: There are words you can always say to strangers, and they begin with "Excuse me, please." Miss Manners is surprised that you consider speaking to be ruder than digging your knuckles into someone's back.
The reaction you are getting is not because subway riders are offended at being addressed by someone to whom they have not been properly introduced. They are defensive because you are criticizing them.
What you should say instead is, "Excuse me, may I hold on here please?" Even loungers tend to be cooperative when they are asked to help.