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

Kicking Customers Out, Hours After Closing

DEAR MISS MANNERS: From time to time, I get a text or an email where someone gives me vastly personal information as they apologize. Someone just wrote me and said they are sorry they did not ship my package on time because on Saturday, a family member died of pancreatic cancer.

How exactly am I supposed to respond? Do I focus on the condolences? Or do I say what is on my mind, which is that an apology really is not even necessary?

When I get these I always feel paralyzed. I just need to know how you would respond!

GENTLE READER: Yes, you should focus on the condolences. The recently bereaved are understandably disoriented and can have a misplaced sense of time, normalcy and how and when to share their unfortunate news. So yes, they may tend to over-explain. Miss Manners recommends that you politely and compassionately indulge them.

(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.)