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CURIOSITY CAN GIVE BIRTH TO GRACELESS IMPULSES

SHARE CURIOSITY CAN GIVE BIRTH TO GRACELESS IMPULSES

Dear Miss Manners: An employee presents at least some indications of being pregnant. None of my business?

Not at the moment. I'll concede that much.But how about her co-workers? Do they have a right to know? Is there a polite way for either a boss or a fellow staffer (probably a female - I'm guessing guys had best keep mum) to inquire as to whether a woman is in a condition that is certain to affect - if only to interrupt for a day or two - her job performance?

It isn't relevant to the general question, but a childless employee here has made it known that bearing offspring is in the plan on a semi-regular basis, and she looks (it's the consensus that's talking) to be about four months pregnant. According to some analysts, she even dresses the part.

Gentle Reader: Everybody in the office is obviously having such a good time around the water cooler - make that everybody with one exception - that Miss Manners hates to spoil the fun.

But she must remind your office analysts of certain variables and uncertainties:

Not everybody who voices a desire to have children gets pregnant. Plans to have semi-regular children (with the intention, Miss Manners hopes, of regularizing them) are notoriously subject to chance and change.

Not everyone who develops something of a tummy is pregnant. Every loose dress is not a maternity dress. And some pregnancies are blessedly free of symptoms that require missing work prior to the birth.

Therefore, the only way to satisfy everyone's curiosity is to wait for the lady in question to volunteer this information. If she really is four months pregnant, you probably don't have long to wait.

Miss Manners thinks it entirely possible that you are mistaken. She wouldn't have thought that a lady who announces an intention of getting pregnant, which is not on the approved list of conventional social announcements, would be shy about announcing success. But she could have her reasons.

Perhaps she, like Miss Manners, has picked up on your subtext - the unpleasant suggestion that being pregnant is an imposition on one's co-workers.

A pregnancy becomes office business when it seriously affects the work schedule - "seriously" meaning more than the occasional sick day that an office is routinely equipped to handle.

However interested the co-workers may be, it is not they but their supervisor who needs to know, in order to make arrangements to cover long absences, including maternity leave.

Dear Miss Manners: A longtime friend - I was in her first wedding - insists, after two divorces, that her friends are to bring presents to her new wedding.

Also, is it the custom to expect wedding guests to provide food for the reception as well as a gift? I always thought the wedding was given by the families, and that the guests were invited to share.

Gentle Reader: Your friend has an odd understanding of a guest, as being someone from whom one demands hospitality, rather than to whom one offers it.

But then, Miss Manners believes that you must have an odd concept of social life, too, if you think of someone who behaves that way to you as your friend.

Dear Miss Manners: I am executor for the estate of a friend who died last fall. Several donations were made to charities in his name, and notifications were sent to me, which I eventually sent on, along with other related mail, to the next of kin, cousins 400 miles away.

A local friend of mine and of the deceased wanted to know why he hadn't received a "Thank you" for his donation. I told him I didn't think one was required under the circumstances.

If it were required, would it come from me or the cousins? With everything else an executor has to do when handling an estate, sending thank-you notes for memorials just seems a bit much.

Gentle Reader: What makes you think that thanks were not required? Generosity and thanks are firmly linked and always will be.

So the question is only who should write those letters. The answer is: whoever is the closest personal representative of the deceased. It is an important and poignant last favor one can do for someone who has died - to make sure that the good wishes of those who cared are not ignored.

But rest assured that Miss Manners is not going to add to your duties. As executor, you were asked to look after business affairs, not social ones. Unless you were also the closest surviving relative, or there weren't any relatives and you were the person's best friend, the job is not yours.

But it would have been particularly gracious of you to do it anyway if you suspected that the cousins, as next of kin, were unwilling.