Miss Manners: Can I confront my co-workers about their air fresheners?

Dear Miss Manners: Two new co-workers, who sit on either side of my area, both have plug-in air fresheners. The scents are quite strong and are difficult to tolerate. I’m not sneezing or to the point I can’t breathe, but they are uncomfortably unpleasant to me.

I’m allergic to a lot of odors, and I also have asthma. I have addressed this with my supervisor, but he told me that it’s not his place to address it — that it’s a co-worker issue.

I am so uncomfortable with the idea of bringing it up with my co-workers directly. They would be offended, and there would be tension in the office because of it. What is the best way to address this issue?

Nose-first. Blame it for being sensitive and ask whether there is a milder version of the air freshener that could be used instead. Or bring your own, claiming you do not wish the burden of fresh air (oh, the irony) to be solely placed on them.

And speaking of burden, Miss Manners wonders at your supervisor’s cowardice in not getting involved. It seems worth it to make a “neutral odor” office policy rather than risk employees viciously turning on one another.

Dear Miss Manners: Our family has just welcomed a new baby, and we have received many thoughtful gifts from relatives and friends, including a check from my uncle and a book from my grandmother. I wrote both of them thank-you cards, but then my mother informed me that my UNCLE had sent the book and my grandmother had sent the check.

I’m positively mortified. What can I do to fix this?

Dear Miss Manners: My boyfriend broke up with me and I did not talk with or see him in months. He tried to call me sometimes, but I did not take the calls.

Then he called again and said he was going to come see me. I told him no, that I was busy, but he came over anyway. I was going out with friends, so he stayed at my house with my parents, because they were visiting as well.

My friends and I had gone out for dinner, then my ex was mad that I didn’t bring him any food back. Should I have gotten him some food when I didn’t even want him there? He stayed overnight on my couch, then left the next morning.

I have not spoken to him again. This happened months ago, but I am still irate.

As well you should be. You did not need to allow this man in your house, much less provide him food and lodging. This might encourage or confuse him — as your parents’ odd behavior clearly did.

But Miss Manners trusts that because you said this was months ago, the behavior has ceased. Should it happen again, she recommends you involve a firmer hand, if not higher authorities, and at least secure the assurance that your parents will aid you in swiftly escorting him out of the door.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

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