What do you think about guests at a party who look in your medicine cabinet? I think it’s intrusive, and I would never do that, but I’ve found that more than one person has opened up cabinets in our bathroom. Isn’t that pretty rude?

It certainly is snoopy. A survey conducted last year reported that at least 25% of people at a party at someone else’s home do take a look in the medicine cabinet. Using the philosophy forewarned is forearmed, put a pre-check of your bathroom cabinets on your pre-party to-do list. One hostess was so annoyed at this tendency that she crammed her medicine cabinet full of ping pong balls, enabling a “gottcha” moment for her as the sound of bouncing balls emanated from the bathroom.

 

I’m on a committee at my daughter’s school, and have been paired with someone I do not like. This might be apparent, but I’m trying hard since I believe in the work I’m doing and don’t want to walk out just because of this person. I have to work with her through the end of the year. What should I do?

You would save yourself some consternation if you work with your partner in this enterprise in the mode of “business civility.” You can be a little formal and always civil to business associates so that you can get a job done, but that doesn’t mean there is a burgeoning friendship going on. Apply these principles and this attitude to your current situation. Your job, which matters, is to get the work done with minimal drama, so a “Good morning,” when you meet and business-like interactions as you do your work will help you stop fretting about your dislike and your resentment of having to work with someone to whom you object. Keep it superficial, light, and on topic so as to minimize the length of your contact and maximize the importance of the work you are doing.

 

My question is about manners when it comes to restaurant servers who seem to hover over one’s table to snatch a plate away if it seems someone is finished, leaving those still eating to feel as though they are too slow, or those suddenly without a plate feeling as though they rushed. What’s the solution?

When you finish first and a server tries to wrest your plate away, just say, “No, thank you, everyone here isn’t finished yet and I want to keep my plate.”  When a server asks the quite dreadful question, “You still working on that?” Simply say yes. In defense of servers, restaurants make their own policy. Some, correctly, instruct their servers not to clear a table until everyone at the table is finished. Others insist that their servers snatch away the plates of those who seem finished so as to not have the table look messy. When the restaurant’s policy is the latter, never hesitate to hang onto your plate until you know your companions have finished, too.

Questions for Catherine? Send them to catherine.michaels33@gmail.com