Miss Manners: Is it rude to ask hosts to turn off their smart speakers?

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Dear Miss Manners: I was recently invited to dinner at a friend’s house, along with several others. The host has already mentioned that he has a smart speaker in the dining room of his house.

I understand that a smart speaker, unless disabled, will pick up and record nearby conversations. I don’t want my dinner conversation taped.

Would it be appropriate for me to tell the friend in advance that I expect him to turn off the speaker during the meal and/or that I will not be present unless he does ?

Although hardly a technology expertly, Miss Manners assumed that smart speakers were usually there to provide music, not to record conversations in case of enemy infiltration.

She suggests that rather than accusing your host of spying, you politely ask if the speaker can be removed so you can hear their guests better.

But then you should probably make sure that all smartphones are banned equally, as these are likely to have the same recording technology as the speaker.

Dear Miss Manners: I grew up in an all-military community. My husband and I are not wealthy, but we have made a vow to always pay the restaurant bill for men or women in military uniform who dine at the same time as us.

Last time, there were six soldiers queuing to pay while waiting for our table. We approached and told the cashier, who was also the owner, that we would pay their bills.

I was a little shocked at how high the bill was for just six of them, but I paid it anyway. After the owner called our credit card, he handed several takeout bags to a member of service who had ordered a bunch of food for his family.

We didn’t say anything, but I was upset that the owner or whoever ordered it didn’t let us know about ordering takeout.

We still pursue our vow to pay for the meals of the men and women who serve our country, but I can’t help but feel a little discouraged every time the opportunity arises. My husband told me to let it go.

Whereas it is nice of you to do so, you have to keep in mind that your recipients weren’t expecting it. They ordered for themselves not to brazenly take advantage of your unforeseen largesse.

You cannot impose conditions and exceptions – or expect unknown violations to be admitted retroactively. So Miss Manners agrees with your husband. She further recommends that if you’re going to get ticked off doing this in the future, you find another source of philanthropy — and make its specific terms known before donating.

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

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