DEAR MISS MANNERS: How do I courteously ask for time off work in an hourly position? I’ve been trying to move from “I’m sorry, I can’t come in, because (insert formal reason here)” to “I’m sorry, I have a prior engagement” or “I’m sorry, I can’t come in due to unforeseen circumstances.”
One of the reasons I’m trying to make this change is that, a couple times in my previous job (which I left in good standing), I called in sick even though I wasn’t.
I understand the common courtesy elements (don’t post what you’re actually doing on social media, check in with your boss ahead of time), but I’m curious if there’s an important distinction between “I’m actually sick and will be for a week” and “I’m calling in sick because it’s my nephew’s birthday.”
Or is there anything important about this that I’ve missed?
GENTLE READER: You seem to have missed the fact that it is dishonest to use sick leave to go to your nephew’s birthday party. And if you are paid only for the hours that you actually work, it is unnecessarily devious.
That said, Miss Manners agrees that it is better — and safer — not to supply excuses. You need only say that unfortunately, you have a conflicting appointment at that time, which you do.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the best way to respond to people who make fun of my last name?
Yes, I really am Mrs. Manners. When I introduce myself, I frequently get the response of, “Do you write a column?” or, “You must be really nice!”
Truthfully, I married into the name, but I’ve always been interested in fostering common courtesy. I’m currently interviewing for new positions, and I don’t want to make other people feel awkward. But after 25-plus years of hearing this “joke,” my inner voice wants to say, “Gee, that’s funny, I’ve never heard that one before!”
I know there has to be a more genteel response that invites them into conversation, rather than insults them or perpetuates jocularity regarding a name I’m proud to share with many generations of my family.
GENTLE READER: Oh, dear. Miss Manners is sorry that you have to endure this.
You may be sure that she has heard — countless times — every possible attempt to make a joke of it. But it is not just the two of us who are subjected to such obvious remarks.
A high school mathematics teacher told Miss Manners that social acquaintances often greet her with, “I hated math.” A police officer reported that he can’t go to parties without someone saying, “Cheese it, the cops are here!” And there isn’t a lawyer joke that every lawyer has not heard.
The object being to change the subject immediately, Miss Manners recommends a weak smile (the mouth turns up but the eyes remain staring) followed by, “But tell me about yourself.”
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, [email protected]; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
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