There’s this woman I’ve known since I was a child. She’s a Jehovah’s Witness I’ll call Beatrice. She comes by my house every so often to share pamphlets and talk about her religion. She is a casual friend of my mother’s (who I live with), so I feel I have to let her inside when she’s at the door. If it were anyone else, I’d say a polite “No, thank you, goodbye,” and shut the door. But because it’s Beatrice, I’m roped into listening to her spiel.
More often than not, Mom’s not even home when Beatrice comes over with her pamphlets because they work similar hours. And each time, I find myself trapped into listening to her jabber away while I politely smile and nod.
Not only am I non-religious, but I am a member of the LGBTQ community, and I know for a fact that Beatrice shunned a family member after he came out as gay.
I don’t want to keep pretending I’m interested in listening to her script, or even talking to her in general, but I also don’t want to ruin my mother’s friendship with her by offending her by being honest.
Is there a polite way to tell Beatrice that, with all due respect, I don’t want to hear about her pamphlets, and she should come by to discuss them only when my mom’s home? Or must I just continue to smile and nod politely like I always do?
– Not Interested
in New England
Dear Not Interested,
No rule of etiquette demands that you listen to Beatrice’s religious diatribes. All you need to say to her is, “My mother isn’t home, and I’m not interested in taking your pamphlets or hearing you preach. Because you’re a friend of Mom’s, come back when Mom is home, and be sure to call first.”
I am really upset about something my best friend did involving a cruise that’s planned for next February. Because of financial setbacks, we can no longer afford the trip. She went ahead and paid for our cruise. I was so upset I called the travel agent and tried to cancel the trip but was informed it was nonrefundable. So now we are locked into a cruise that’s still going to cost us $1,500 or more in other expenses while we are on the cruise.
I like to pay my own way and have never asked anyone for help or money. She said it was “a gift, not a loan” and I was being ungrateful, so I finally accepted the “gift.” Now I’m going to have this hanging over my head. It’s putting us in more financial trouble, so we are trying to get a loan to cover the extra expenses. I don’t think I can enjoy the trip now.
Am I ungrateful? She’s been my best friend for more than 40 years and I don’t want this to affect our friendship. What should I do at this point?
– Expensive “Gift”
in the West
Dear Expensive “Gift,”
Your generous friend acted on impulse, without considering the fact that even with her paying your fare, the cruise would still cost you money. Forgive her for her mistake, take the trip and do your best to enjoy it so you don’t ruin the trip for her.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.