Miss Manners: A work from home bathroom incident rattles a reader

I was so embarrassed! I said I’d call him back, and he said, “Oh, I just have a couple of quick questions.” But I replied, “This is inappropriate,” and he ended the call brusquely. Twenty minutes later, I called him back and we had a civil conversation. Was I wrong?

Not wanting to conduct business while you are … well … conducting business is certainly not wrong. But using the word “inappropriate” might have come off a bit brusque to your boss.

If the relationship has returned to being civil, however, Miss Manners would leave it alone — or make a joke at some point about reinforcing boundaries with your daughter. The insinuation that you also must do so with him will no doubt be implicit.

Dear Miss Manners: A friend of mine from high school, whom I have seen a few times in the intervening 50 years, came to my home with his wife. They suggested they would like a tour of our home, but I deflected this request.

Our home is relatively comfortable and well-kept, but not exceptional. I am a very private person and do not care to invite acquaintances, strangers or even friends to gawk at my personal space or paw through my belongings.

When we entered our home, my friend’s wife began to wander freely throughout while I talked to her husband. From across an open area I saw her pick up items in my workspace or pull them aside to see what was beneath. I was so stunned by her rudeness that I said nothing at the time.

Can you please offer a polite rejoinder for such occasions? It seems inhospitable to call out, “As I implied earlier, I do not care to give you a tour of our home. Can you please join us, Megan?”

Loading the medicine cabinet with marbles is tempting, but installation and clean up would be very time-consuming.

Such a request from an acquaintance and a stranger who have arrived for a brief visit seems wildly inappropriate, but perhaps I am missing something here? Are requests for home tours now considered a polite means to express interest in others?

Unwitting guests who have been forcibly taken on such tours may now think so — and suddenly feel required to ask.

A polite response to the inquiry might be, “Oh we don’t want to bore you with that; there’s really not much to see.” And then Miss Manners suggests that you tell Megan that she will not want to miss appetizers in the living room — and politely decline all requests for help in the kitchen.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.


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