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Miss Manners: How do I respond to rude greetings?

dear miss manners: How do you respond when you bump into a friend you haven’t seen in a year or so, and the first thing the friend says is, “Where have you been? You haven’t been here in a long time!”

The tone of voice suggests that I am hiding and being unsociable, when in fact the friend has not approached me during that time either. He puts me on the defensive explaining why I haven’t been in contact with them.

I also experience this at a non-profit organization where I have volunteered for years, helping out when my schedule allows. A couple of people who spend a regular amount of time there greet me with, “Oh, are you here to help today?”

Of course they know I’m there as a volunteer, and their malicious tone suggests they’ve almost forgotten about me. In the meantime, I’ve been with the organization longer than they have and even helped train them! I just don’t know how to respond to such comments.

Although such greetings they are understandably off-putting, Miss Manners noting that they give the greeter nothing when they seem to slip off the recipient to no avail. Whether this means responding with “Oh, you know me, busy, busy, busy!” or “Where have you been hiding? It really has been a long time” will depend on how much time and effort you want to invest.

dear miss manners: When did it become acceptable for a guest who comes and stays at your home not to tell you the day they arrive and the day they leave?

This happens constantly with a relative of mine. Yes, we have told her, and her husband, several times that we need the specific dates. We thought we had licked it this last time, since on Tuesday she told us they would arrive on Friday. That gave us a day and a half’s notice. But when they got here, they didn’t tell us when they were leaving. I couldn’t get them to tell us until the day before they left.

My mother is 90 years old and she has to plan all the meals etc when they come to visit. She did the cleaning, which is difficult because she also works full time. Not once did they praise the house, the kitchen, or the little things my mother did to make her visit enjoyable.

When did this start to be okay? My mom won’t let me near them to make it very clear, as she thinks I’m being rude.

your mother does Don’t think you’re being rude, dear. She thinks you’re trying to be rude, and she’s right to stop you, if only until you slow down enough to allow more than 36 hours between Tuesday and Friday.

Hosts can set dates in advance: “Come Friday and stay until Monday.” It was never polite for a guest to drop in unannounced or stay longer than invited, but that never justified rudely demanding a check-out date.

Miss Manners also wonders who has been sinned against in this case, if her mother is, as it seems, the hostess and perhaps also the owner of the establishment.

Miss Manners’ new columns are published Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can submit questions to Miss Manners on her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

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