Q. My daughter has started dating. Is it unreasonable for us to expect to meet her date when he picks her up?
A. It is entirely reasonable, particularly if she is a minor, and it is a courtesy if she is an adult living in your home. Whether she believes it or not, having parents who care about who she is with and where she is going indicates to a date that she is an important person to her family who expect him to treat her with respect. This may sound outdated, but it is not, because it is about respect, a timeless and ageless practice, and often it is about safety, as well. No one, teen or adult, should go off without someone knowing where she (or he) is going, and with whom.
Q. We have friends who just appear at our door when they feel like visiting. We are busy and prefer a planned get-together. How can we encourage them to call ahead?
A. When an uninvited visitor appears and you have other plans, say so. Tell them that you are so sorry, but that you are expected elsewhere (you can be specific, or not] and must leave fairly immediately. Tell them you’d love to visit but suggest that they call the next time they are in the neighborhood so you don’t miss another opportunity to visit or, if you prefer, set a specific date for the future.
Q. My fiancé and I are getting married this summer and will be inviting many friends who will have to stay overnight if they attend. Are we expected to pay for their travel and hotel costs?
A. No, guests who are staying overnight pay their own transportation and lodging expenses. You may offer, of course, but it would be an enormous expense and is not expected. If other, local friends offer guest rooms in their homes for your out-of-town relatives and friends you can offer that, if you wish, and certainly can help by providing hotel and motel, rental car, or transportation information for those who are not familiar with the location of your wedding. The exception is when your attendants are from out-of-town, in which case you might pay their lodging expenses.
Q. I was at an event at a hotel over the holidays and there was a washroom attendant who had a plate for tips on the counter. Was I supposed to leave her a tip?
A. If she simply sat and looked at you, no tip was necessary. If she handed you a paper towel when you washed your hands, you would leave a tip of at least 50 cents. If she provided a bigger service, such as brushing off your jacket, providing a safety pin for a falling hem or a grooming item you needed but didn’t have with you, then a tip of $2 would have been in order. You would not hand her the gratuity, but rather would place it on the plate.
What’s the polite way to handle a situation? Please send your questions to Catherine Michaels, in care of [email protected]