DEAR MISS MANNERS: I live in one side of a duplex, the other half of which is occupied by what seems to be a nice, normal younger couple (low- to mid-30s.)
We have exchanged a few short, pleasant conversations about lawn care and the weather and such, but not much past that.
The other day I was sitting on my couch and I spied the man of the couple peering in my bathroom window for a good 30 seconds or so. I didn't move or say anything, just watched him, unsure what to do.
I do have curtains up, but I wish I could feel comfortable letting some light in without worrying about Peeping Toms.
Is there a polite way to address this with him? I keep trying to think of an innocent reason why he'd be looking in my windows and am bothered by not being able to find an answer. Should I talk to him about it? If so, how?
GENTLE READER: It certainly isn't easy to find an innocent excuse. Miss Manners has been trying -- not because she hopes to find a plausible one, but as an opener for letting the neighbor know that he is observed while observing.
"I saw you looking into our bathroom window the other day," you might say in an ordinary tone of voice. "Did you suspect something wrong?"
It will then be the neighbor's turn to think of a respectable excuse, but in any case, he will have been warned. If he does it again, or if you see him peeking into other houses, it will be time to report this as not being an accident, but a crime.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: We bought Christmas presents for many of our young acquaintances, from a well-known maker of quality toys. We mailed them around the country, and the children seemed to enjoy them very much.
We learned this week that the toy has been recalled due to short circuits. We immediately forwarded the e-mail and the refund link to all the parents involved, with our sincere apologies. Is this a sufficient response?
The thought that we put any of these children in danger horrifies us, as we acted in good faith. In addition to the refund, should we send another toy, or a cash gift, along with a note? This seems to be a problem that is becoming more common, and I am hoping you could suggest some guidelines.
GENTLE READER: The thought that you would have to start Christmas shopping all over again exhausts Miss Manners, so she can imagine how it strikes you. Yet she understands your frustration that, through no fault of yours, the toys with which you pleased those children were confiscated from them.
Sending checks seems superfluous, as the refunds will provide the parents with money for replacement toys. Notes of apology to the children (with simple explanations about safety, if they are old enough to understand) with token presents would be charming, but not necessary.