DEAR MISS MANNERS: As you know, there’s a new form of paid accommodations, a blur between staying with friends and staying in a commercial hotel. We had an experience with “home hospitality” that was worse than staying with a fussy old relative. There were so many rules given verbally, yet critical parts were left out!
We were shown which bathroom to use, but told that all the towels on the towel bars were for “show,” and that we could use a hook behind the door (which kept our towels damp). We were unsure about the matching “show” towel on the vanity counter — use or not?
The dining table was clearly off-limits, but the kitchen breakfast bar was also elaborately set up, and we were pointed to a small stack of paper plates for self-serve coffee and muffins. Stand-up eating? The examples could go on.
When giving a review after the stay, I’m comfortable reporting an objective comment. But when it is a clash in personal hospitality styles, what’s the kind thing to do? Alert others, or “when in Rome ...”?
GENTLE READER: No one in Rome said that you had to stand to eat your breakfast.
And for whom are the towels showing off, if not the guests?
Miss Manners approves, and even encourages, leaving reviews that warn prospective customers against a poor business. You should understand that this is not a quasi social situation, which requires kindness and tolerance, but a business transaction. If the owners did not want frank feedback, they should not have solicited it by offering up their house.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: A fellow worker at my job was trying to convince me that we should stop taking credit card numbers over the phone for security reasons. It’s quite possible that she is right, but I had to point out that I would need to talk to our boss before changing the way I do my job.
She was passionate about the issue, and kept trying to get me to agree with her without any reservations. The manners issue was that she kept calling me by my first name as a way to try to convince me of her opinion.
This has happened to me before, and it drives me crazy. I feel like a zoo animal with people tapping on the glass to get my attention. The worst is when it is done by customer service representatives who I have never even met.
Can I just say, “Please stop saying my name”? Am I oversensitive, or is there a consensus on this?
GENTLE READER: Why don’t you find out? Next time you find your name being overused, politely ask the person theirs — both first and last. Then proceed to use it, honorific followed by surname, just as frequently as the other person does. Miss Manners assures you that your question about being overly sensitive will be answered definitively — even if it is different each time.