DEAR MISS MANNERS: Scheduled time off at my workplace is posted to a calendar that all employees can see. To my understanding, this is so that co-workers can know that you will not be available at those times.
However, two people in my office seem to scrutinize that calendar too closely for my comfort. One took it upon himself to call me by the moniker “Part-timer” because I had been gone for three hours the previous day. Another said, “Oh, Jenny, you’re getting off in two hours; aren’t you excited?”
I feel my time off is my own personal business. I don’t like my every move stalked and commented on.
Am I being too sensitive when I find these comments intrusive?
GENTLE READER: “My understanding was that those are the hours that we are unavailable, not that they are necessarily for leisure. Why? Is that how you use yours?”
DEAR MISS MANNERS: For several years, I have been the recipient of a friend’s annoying habit of “punctuating” what is being said by touching me.
While walking, and sometimes while sitting, this person will frequently poke my shoulder or give a little shove with the back of the hand. I am already listening intently, so it is not to ensure my attention.
I am not averse to touch and thoroughly enjoy warm hugs, but this physical contact is distracting and bothers me.
My friend is a wonderful person, albeit with a bad habit. What to do?
GENTLE READER: Start screaming. Develop your own bad habit of yelping in alarm every time your friend pokes or pushes you, pleading that you were startled and taken off-guard.
Then when they inevitably tell you that you are overreacting, Miss Manners suggests you say, “Well, I was reacting normally to what you were saying, but that wasn’t sufficient.”
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is there a polite way to ask my guests to PLEASE SIT STILL? (Oops, sorry — didn’t mean to yell.)
Most of my furniture is nearly antique (as am I), and it is showing its age. After 80 years of service, it is not as sturdy as it once was. People squirm and shift, cross one leg and then the other, lean this way and that, all while the chair creaks and squeaks.
In the past few years, I have had three chairs break. Most recently, a guest kept leaning back in a straight-backed chair as though he were trying to make it recline. I anticipated what would happen but didn’t know what to say. Sure enough, soon there was a distinct crack, which both he and his wife ignored.
Can Miss Manners suggest some genteel way to head this off?
GENTLE READER: PUT THE FURNITURE AWAY. Oops. Sorry. Miss Manners does not mean to yell.
And, yes, she knows that furniture is meant to be used. But if something is particularly fragile, it is easier to remove it than to police squirmy guests.
Barring that, an occasional “You might be more comfortable on the other couch; I’m afraid that old settee is a bit creaky” could serve as an adequate — and genteel — warning.
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.