DEAR MISS MANNERS: My tolerance and patience are being exceeded. At 55 years old, I have been determined to be disabled due to severe injury to my left leg. My disability impairs only my ability to walk or run. I hold a doctorate and a few M.S. degrees in technical fields, and retired from industry as a North American manager for a multinational chemical company.
I have friends and family who are totally unable to mind their own business. I am sick of being called and told that I should get rid of all my possessions, sell my home, etc. I own a vintage 1930s brick home; the house is furnished in period furniture, and the contents include Oriental rugs, fine English china, cut crystal, etc.
These individuals, all of whom seem to believe they are at least 10 times smarter than me, haven't gotten around to addressing the issue of where I will live after selling the house. The next time I get a "put up a for-sale sign" comment, my response will be: "Absolutely! I will put out the sign tomorrow morning! And immediately after closing, I'll move in with you! So please start upgrading your home and a bathroom immediately to accommodate me and my pets."
It is truly uncanny how these individuals manage to find time to worry about my affairs when they can't manage their own. For a couple of relatives, I am sorely tempted to tell them: "My attorney has instructions to send everything to auction, so you need not be concerned. All proceeds will be used to support my pets that outlive me."
If you can offer additional insights, this would be helpful to me and others facing the same scenario.
GENTLE READER: The standard answer that Miss Manners suggests to acquaintances and strangers who offer unsolicited advice is, "How kind of you to take an interest in my private affairs."
But these are relatives and friends, and they have demonstrated that they recognize no boundaries when it comes to offering wisdom-free advice. They might be smug enough to take that statement literally, as a compliment on their compassion.
Rather than contest the boundary issue, she considers it legitimate to take advantage of the intimacy they have established to reply -- well, exactly the way you have thought of doing.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My sister's family stayed in my home for the last family wedding. While here, they experienced car trouble and fixed their vehicle in my drive. After they left, I discovered a pile of discarded car parts on the other side of my house where it could be seen from the street.
Needless to say, I was horrified. What is the proper way to address this issue with my sister?
GENTLE READER: Mail them to her. But only if you are really, really angry, and she has a past history of leaving trash on your property -- after she reached adulthood, that is.
Miss Manners is guessing that the frustration caused by unexpected trouble left them so flustered that they forgot to deal with the mess. She would prefer that you overlooked it. But if you cannot, then call to ask if they managed to get home safely without the parts of their car you found on your lawn.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)