DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a college student with a question about the etiquette of borrowing notes. It has taken me a long time and a lot of hard work to get to college, as I've been financially independent since high school. Now that I'm actualizing my goals of higher education, I take my studies seriously and make a point to not skip class, to do my homework, to understand the material, etc.
There is a girl who was in a couple of my same classes last term and is again currently. She is an excuse maker, and she is constantly behind. She asks me for help. Last week, she asked to borrow notes. I said OK but told her to return them before next class so I could keep my notes in order.
Surprise, she didn't show up. She brought my notes back to class today, but, since she missed class again on Monday, now wants to borrow those notes. I find it rude that she would ask for a favor, not uphold my conditions, and then ask for another.
I've turned down her requests for help in the past, but she keeps asking. I am sick of hearing her self-pitying; none of her excuses are justifiable for consistent lagging (i.e. oversleeping, slow bus, etc.), nor are they more serious than any of the challenges I've overcome to be here. Life is hard, so is college; stop making excuses and get to work.
How do I politely tell her that I am not her personal tutor?
GENTLE READER: You have a perfect excuse in that your classmate did not abide by the terms you set when lending her your notes. Yet you have fresh experience of how annoying excuses are.
Miss Manners assures you that no such evidence is necessary -- nor is using one desirable. Excuses invite the persistent to argue back. You would only bring on another round of her excuses and unreliable promises.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I entertain frequently, about four to six parties a year. Numerous times in the past, I have had individuals who were not invited approach me and either ask if they could attend my party or ask why they were not invited. It's an awkward situation as I stumble around for a polite reply.
I even had one fellow say to me, "Oh, I get it, I didn't make the A-list!" I was stunned, to say the least.
What is the proper response to these folks?
GENTLE READER: Just a guess, but these are not people who regularly entertain you, are they? Or possibly ever invite you?
Even if they were, it is outrageously rude for anyone to demand an invitation or an explanation for not getting one. Social life does not consist of inviting one's entire acquaintance to every occasion. But Miss Manners has noticed -- you are not the only host to have complained about this -- that it is generally those who never reciprocate who feel that invitations are an entitlement.
In that case, you can reply, "But I thought it was I who am not on your list."
To those who really are part of your reciprocal social life, you could reply, "Oh, there will be other occasions. I don't always give the same party."