Miss Manners: my husband’s colleague stopped by and I was in my pajamas

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Dear Miss Manners: My husband works at home, and a colleague does not. A co-worker sometimes texts my husband to tell him there is a product or courier for him at the office and kindly offers to drop it off at our home. My husband accepts and is very grateful.

Drop off is usually on a weekend, early in the day, when I’m in bed or lounging around the house in my robe and slippers. Because we moved during the pandemic, our house is “new” to Colleague, so this morning my husband chose to show him around. The tour did not include the bedroom where I sat in my pajamas to answer emails.

I really like Colleague, but I’m used to meeting him only when he’s “ready to greet the world”. I thought it was rude not to make an appearance, so I got dressed and went out to say hello, nothing more. The men continued to chat for about half an hour about our new house, work to be done, etc., and I fled.

I don’t want to be rude or inattentive in these situations. What do you suggest?

Since it was based on showing a new home, this problem will probably not happen again. But Miss Manners assures you that the impromptu, work-based visit did not require your presence, and that your demeanor was sufficiently cordial.

If Colleague plans to be aware of any future remodels, however, perhaps your husband can let you know ahead of time — so you don’t get caught up in your pajamas again.

Dear Miss Manners: I have been close friends with someone for over 18 years. He and his wife even asked their children to call me “uncle”.

Several years ago they moved to a large, distant city. We stayed in touch as best we could. They stopped when they visited his parents, who still lived in our town.

I retired three years ago and moved back to the town where I grew up. I tried to keep in touch with my friend, but he became more and more distant. I recently texted her and told her that my last brother passed away and it was a sad time for me. His response was, “It’s really difficult, bro.”

He showed almost no empathy. I haven’t heard from him or his wife since that day several months ago.

Would it be rude to ask if I did or said something that deeply offended them to the point that they decided to end our friendship?

No way. Etiquette thrives on subtly criticizing someone else’s behavior while graciously blaming it on oneself.

Of course, if your friend replies that everything is fine, you might have to report him for his insensitivity. But even that can be done with tact: “Oh. I was just hoping to catch up and maybe talk more about my brother. And of course, I want to hear from you.

The second statement can determine, Miss Manners is afraid, whether or not her previous absence was the cause of the distance between you.

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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