But then he threw the bag into the bed of my new pickup truck! Shocked, I said nothing, but now it has become a habit, and I have found several more bags of dog poop back there. How can I tactfully handle this bad neighbor?
It is tempting to return to your neighbor what is rightfully his — in the same manner in which it was received — but if you want to maintain otherwise good relations with him, Miss Manners does not advise it.
Instead, you may politely let him know what he otherwise must have missed: “I’m not sure how they got here, but somehow your dog’s poop bags have ended up in my truck. If you don’t mind disposing of them elsewhere, I would be extremely grateful.”
Dear Miss Manners: My mother-in-law has some food behaviors that are jarring and unusual. At family meals, she will take disproportionate amounts of food: For example, she will take every cookie on a plate that is being passed around to share.
I am glad that all of the cookies are being eaten, but I find it rude to the other guests who are handed an empty plate after her. Once, she fished out all of the meat from a stew when it went around the table.
Our family meals are often potluck-style. She will volunteer to bring a side dish, dessert or bread, but will bring something else, such as an onion or head of lettuce, then keep it for herself. Other times, she will bring over food for us to cook, so she can take it home with her. The food is not for us to share.
I’ve asked my husband whether he could talk to his mom about it, because her behavior is weird and embarrassing. He doesn’t think it’s worth bringing up and ignores it.
In the meantime, I plan to not count on her to bring anything to the table, and instead to take everything from it. Am I overstepping in asking my husband to talk to her? How should I handle this, if at all?
Sorry. Miss Manners is distracted by the image of your mother-in-law sitting in the corner with her onion and head of lettuce, emphatically not willing to share.
If the husband approach is not working, because he doesn’t find this an alarming departure from the way his mother has always behaved, it seems to Miss Manners that family- or buffet-style service should cease when your mother-in-law comes to dinner.
You can either dish things up in the kitchen, restaurant-style, or assign someone in the household — perhaps your husband — to act as a server, walking around with dishes of food that guests may then serve themselves. If your mother-in-law lingers a bit too long with the cookies or the stew, the server may then take the platter away, with the excuse that they thought she was finished.
If she’s still hungry, you can always suggest she go back to her onion.