DEAR MISS MANNERS: I hired a private guide at a tourist attraction. It was an enigmatic place, so the guide often got questions from other visitors trying to figure it out on their own. People even asked him to take their pictures after he took mine.
Is there a way to tell people who interrupt my tour to make requests of my guide that a book would explain the buildings, a guard can show the way to the toilet, and another tourist can take their photo?
GENTLE READER: Yes, but do you really want to get into altercations with tourists in need of toilets?
Neither will your guide, but as he is in your employ, you can tell him that you find this distracting and ask him to decline on the grounds that he is busy working, and there are others around to help.
That said, Miss Manners asks you not to mind if people simply want to listen silently to what he is saying. Or if they only need the simple, humane courtesy of being pointed toward the bathroom.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is a grandparent-to-be who lives 1,500 miles away expected to attend a gender-reveal party?
GENTLE READER: What the parents expect, Miss Manners cannot say. Obviously they believe that others will be as excited as they to learn the answer to this simple question -- an answer that can easily be obtained by telephone a few hours later.
Whether it is wise to spend the time, energy and money to attend a frivolous party is another matter. Surely such trips will be more rewarding when there is an actual grandchild at the destination.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: At social occasions, friends and family often ask about how my work is going, and then about the charity of which I am a trustee, and I understand that this is all to do with showing an interest in my well-being and my activities.
However, I struggle to get the balance right. If I go into the details, which tend to be technical, their eyes glaze over, and I have committed a faux pas; if I talk about my current emotional response (sometimes stressful and challenged), they start offering cliched solutions or opinions and MY eyes glaze over and I commit a faux pas. If I give a pat answer of “It’s all going well” or something, then I am doing them the disservice of dishonesty, and lose that sense of familiarity and openness that friends and family are for.
GENTLE READER: If you want to have conversations about your work, you need to provide some conversational material. “I’m stressed” or “It’s fine” do not qualify. What could you expect them to say in return?
Miss Manners suggests your responding to their questions with open-ended remarks -- describe a challenge at work, one that a layperson could understand and that you are trying to handle, an anecdote about someone your charity helps, or whatever might be of interest that does not violate work ethics or others’ privacy.
(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.)