DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a single mother and am experienced in different types of home repair. Yet at large family gatherings, at least one male relative always boldly announces to the gathering that he is going to help me in some way.
They don’t tell me this privately; this is a sweeping declaration. The gathering then comments on their kindness and what good people they are. I have never asked, or even hinted, that I would like this help.
Miss Manners, these declarations are annoying for two reasons. First, they are rarely acted upon. Even a gentle follow-up asking when I could take them up on the offer is put off to “sometime.” The second is that the few times they do come out, it ends up being a disaster for me. Each time, they have left the situation worse.
The understanding is that I will pay for any parts needed. That is reasonable, except that they buy incorrect or unnecessary parts. They eat all my food, ask for constant affirmation, and leave a huge mess.
Each time, I have had to hire someone else to redo their work. In most of these situations, I could have fixed the problem myself quicker, cheaper and better.
These grand statements are made for their own gratification. How do I respond without coming across as an ungrateful bore? I do not like to call people out in front of others. In past years, I have just swallowed my words and sat silently. I have simply absorbed the expense in the name of family peace, or rested in knowing they would never come. Is there a gracious response I can employ?
GENTLE READER: ”Thank you, but actually, I’m pretty good at most household repairs. I’ll call you if I need help, but in the meantime, please call me if YOU do.”