Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

On Finding Money in the Park

DEAR MISS MANNERS: On our daily dawn walk, my friend and I found $4 folded on the ground. No one was around. I said, “Oh! Coffee money!”

She picked it up and put it on a nearby picnic table. It was a small amount of cash, no wallet or ID, so why did I feel guilty for wanting to take it? Was she right? Was I wrong?

GENTLE READER: The only fault here was innocence. Miss Manners finds your friend’s action sweet, but naive. The reality is that you are only leaving it for the next passerby.

She therefore declares that unidentifiable cash under $100 is fair game. Unmarked suitcases with stacks of bills inside must, however, be turned in to the authorities.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I own a one-bedroom, one-bathroom place in a popular resort city. Every summer, our relatives (brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces) stay with us for periods ranging from one weekend to a whole week, although they don’t all visit at the same time.

On the bathroom sink, there is a bar of soap, my husband’s and my toothbrushes, toothpaste, shaving cream and various facial and skin care products. In the shower stall, there is shower gel and various hair care products. There is a guest hand-towel in the bathroom, and I give each guest a set of fresh towels for personal use.

Some of the guests bring their own toiletries, which they put on the sink and in the shower; others simply help themselves to what’s available without asking. I can tell because the bottles empty out quickly.

My husband is of the opinion that the shower gel, like the bar of soap and guest hand-towel, are for common use, while the skin and facial products and hair products are for personal use -- like the bath towels I give each guest -- even if we leave them in the bathroom. I argue that if we don’t want the guests to use those products, then we should at least put them in the bathroom cabinet out of sight. He counter-argues that that is inconvenient, and guests should only use their own products.

For the record, when I stay at someone’s place, I bring my own toiletries and keep them in a bag on the bedside table. What should the polite and courteous guests/hosts do?

GENTLE READER: You husband is relying on a Newtonian level of deductive reasoning from your guests to figure out what is for public use and what is not.

Miss Manners agrees with the principle: that guests should bring their own toiletries for use in a communal bathroom. However, if they cannot be trusted and you want to keep your personal items, well, personal, Miss Manners suggests a compromise: Put your own things away and then purchase economy-size versions of shampoo, conditioner and shower gel, so that it is very clear what is to be shared -- and what is not.

(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)