DEAR MISS MANNERS: I share a small home with two family members, and I am struggling with the question of where I may go to compose texts or emails without a) being rude, or b) being disturbed. I know the answer is not “the dinner table.”
However, may one compose texts or emails on the family couch, and if so, should others refrain from attempting to engage the person composing texts or emails in conversation?
I know of one family in which adults hide in one of the bathrooms if they wish to compose emails. However, we have only one bathroom, and it would be inconsiderate to use it this way. Further, it doesn’t seem that it should be necessary.
If each of us had a personal office (or even if we had one shared office), that would be an ideal solution, but again, our home is small.
GENTLE READER: And that is why there are so many coffee shops, where patrons sometimes respect the need of others to pay attention to their laptops.
Not being in a position to run around your house searching for a quiet nook where you will not disturb others or be disturbed by them, Miss Manners can only make guesses. Your bedroom, but not during sleeping hours if it is shared? The kitchen, when mealtime is not approaching? For that matter, why not the dining room when it is not being used for dining?
But what is she doing in your house? You have two people right there who know the layout and have something to say about what constitutes disturbances. All people who share living space, whether as roommates, relatives or boarders, have to negotiate its use with one another without generalized rules from the outside.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My niece got married a couple of years ago for the second time. Her husband-to-be had never been married. They chose to have a casual wedding, but they invited at least 100 guests, primarily their friends on both sides of the family and a few chosen family members.
Prior to the wedding, I sent a wrapped gift from their wedding registry and a large bottle of wine per the invitation as a contribution to the bar. I included a card with the gift attached to the package.
We felt completely ignored at the wedding and were never introduced to the new husband. No effort was made by the bride and her new husband to walk around speaking to guests. In addition, I never received a thank-you either verbally or in writing from my niece and her new husband.
I’ve been steamed over this ever since. I’ve remained silent now for years. What do you suggest someone should do, if anything, when this sort of thing happens, other than grin and bear it?
GENTLE READER: When Miss Manners hears the word “casual,” she shudders. It no longer means “informal,” which is a legitimate style. Rather, it has come to mean “not bothering to perform even the most common courtesies.”
But your experience was two years ago. By now you should have put in practice the only sensible response, which is to decline any invitations to their birthday parties, re-enactment ceremonies, baby showers, or whatever else they may have devised for assembling people they will then ignore.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)