DEAR MISS MANNERS: Every year my husband and I have a birthday party for our son. Every year the party starts at the same time (2 p.m.), and every year we have the same issue: a set of grandparents who arrive hours early.
The time of the party is set to allow for decorating/set-up time in the morning and a quick nap for our son, all of which has been explained to our guests. By arriving early, they disrupt the set-up and, most importantly, our son's nap.
We don't want to hurt anyone's feelings or be rude, but I don't think they have considered how it bothers us to have company arriving before we're ready for them. Or perhaps they don't care. We've made unsuccessful attempts to (gently) point out that the party starts at 2 p.m., but this has gotten us no results.
Since these are relatives (and not just rude friends) we can't stop inviting them, but we are stuck as to what to do about it. Can you tell me how to handle this?
GENTLE READER: Do they always arrive hours early when you invite them for casual visits?
That was a trick question. Miss Manners suspects that this information was not already included because there are few, if any, casual invitations issued. If there were, you would not refer to your son's grandparents as "our guests" whom you have to entertain (sigh) every year.
Her guess is that these people are starved to see their grandson and are trying to cage extra time with him. It may be that you are not on pleasant terms, or it may only be that they live far away and are rarely able to visit. If you cannot schedule more visits, you might solve the problem by asking them, ahead of time, to stay on after the birthday party for some private time with your son.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Myself and three other people carpool to work in the mornings and afternoons, and each week we take turns driving. Usually, whoever's driving listens to music and/or news radio at a very low volume.
However, one of the people in the carpool listens to religious Christian music and/or Christian talk radio. I find this to be very rude because I personally am not religious, and I think it's wrong to "assume" that everyone else has the same religious views as he/she. In addition, this person plays the music in their car very loudly.
Am I wrong in this? Should I be offended? I know some of the other riders have mentioned their distaste in this person's choice of radio stations.
Is there a "tactful" way to address this? Some of us have even gone so far as to listen to iPods on the rides in hopes this person would "get the hint" but to no avail.
GENTLE READER: You don't need a hint; you need a policy. And not a religious policy, either.
It seems to Miss Manners that this driver is acting within your present policy to play his or her choice of radio programs. He or she (can't you look in the front seat and figure out which?) need not assume you agree with it or like it; the only point is that he does.
Suggesting a new policy by which everyone gets to approve the choice of stations will avoid one ugly confrontation, although possibly inspire another. Or you could all disappear into your iPods.