DEAR MISS MANNERS: I live in a tight-knit community comprised of mostly seniors, with about 20 homes on a street that ends in cul-de-sac. It’s the sort of community where neighbors look in on one another and take care of each other, and where very little goes unnoticed.
A good friend who lives several houses away phoned to say that he was sick with what he suspected was the flu, and that he needed help. Due to the possibility of COVID-19, I did as much as I could without actually entering his house, including leaving food and medicine on his doorstep.
When his health did not improve, I felt it was necessary to call an ambulance, which arrived with sirens blaring and lights flashing, drawing the attention of everyone in the vicinity. He was taken to the hospital, where he luckily tested negative for COVID-19, but he had suffered a small stroke, all of which he recounted to me.
My neighbors, of course, were anxious to know what had happened and descended on me for answers, and I told them what I knew. When I spoke to my friend in the hospital later, he told me that he appreciated my help, that it had been all right to tell people that he had tested negative for the virus, but that I should not have disclosed the fact that he’d had a stroke.
Now that my friend is in rehab, people are asking me about his condition, putting me in an awkward position. What should I do from now on without either violating my friend’s privacy or embarrassing those who are expressing concern?
By the way, I did not sign on to be a press secretary, particularly one doing a bad job!
GENTLE READER: Having cared for your neighbor in these crises, you can honorably resign. If he is well enough to criticize, Miss Manners would consider him well enough to take charge of his health reports, or to designate someone else to do so.