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Miss Manners: My husband doesn’t like my strategy for dealing with his vexatious relatives

Miss Manners: My husband doesn’t like my strategy for dealing with his vexatious relatives

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Some members of my husband’s family are always late. Because of this, we have ended up sitting in restaurants for over half an hour, waiting outside a theater, missing the beginning of tours or excursions, going to their place for Sunday dinner at 6 but not eating until 8, etc.

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The relatives who cause these situations have absolutely zero sense of time. We learned long ago not to ride with them to weddings or surprise parties.

To get around this, I think it’s best to lie: to tell them dinner is at 6, when it’s really at 6:45, or that the movie starts at 8 (actually 8:30). My husband disagrees with this method, but the constant waiting is getting really old.

What do you think?

GENTLE READER: Is your husband’s objection moral or practical?

You could handle a moral objection by saying, “We have to be there by …” instead of “it starts at …”

If you are found out, Miss Manners is perfectly willing to have you apologize to the relatives for having mistakenly given them the wrong impression. She just does not think anyone will believe it if repeated too often.

In future, either plan events for which the start time is not important, or tell them you will meet them inside the theater.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: A couple of times now, colleagues have mentioned to me that they are taking a day or a half-day off to undergo medical tests, without giving details.

What is an appropriate response, given that they have volunteered this information?

I have settled for responding with, “I hope everything is OK.” Is there a better response that acknowledges what they’ve said — I don’t want to seem uncaring — without implying that I’m asking what the tests are for?

GENTLE READER: Half the people who tell you about their upcoming tests will be offended if you do not inquire further — and half will be offended if you do.

The proper response is therefore to stall for time while you determine which type they are. “Is there anything you need me to check on while you are out?” mirrors your colleague’s ambiguity about whether this conversation is personal or professional — while also, Miss Manners notes, being unclear about how much of their work they can dump on you.

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.

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