Miss Manners: How do I tell a co-worker I won’t make drawings for her?

Dear Miss Manners: I work in a fairly typical office setting and get along well with my co-workers. There is one co-worker I know better than the others, and I consider her a friend.

I do art as a hobby, mostly pencil drawings. My aforementioned work friend made a joke that I should doodle something for her, and I surprised her by doing so. It was a very simple doodle, but she loved it and showed everyone at the office.

The problem arose when another co-worker approached me and asked/begged me to do two drawings for her: one for each of her children. She had very specific requests, and the art she wanted was very detailed and would take some time.

I draw because I enjoy it, and I don’t take commissions (although I have in the past). I tried to assure my co-worker that the art she wanted was really not my specialty and that I didn’t think I would be able to complete her request, but she insisted that I “try my best.”

I know her feelings would be hurt if I refused, but I really don’t want to take requests for pieces I know I won’t enjoy making. How do I politely tell her that I don’t want to draw for her?

“The one for Madeline was just a spur-of-the-moment doodle. What you’re asking would take a lot more time, and I am afraid that I just don’t have that at the moment. I’m sorry to disappoint you, but if you are looking for more detailed work, I would be happy to refer you to another artist who takes custom requests.”

And then, Miss Manners recommends, you find those artists quickly.

Dear Miss Manners: A married couple who have been dear friends of mine for decades invited me to their home for dinner and an overnight visit. I brought with me four boxes of my homemade cookies (several varieties) and an appetizer.

The hosts did not serve the appetizer, but I’m not complaining about that, because I know a host is not obliged to serve food brought by a guest. After dinner, they didn’t put out any dessert, although I heard each of them separately go into the kitchen and eat some of the cookies I brought, without offering me any! Finally, another dessert was brought out, along with some of the cookies.

In the morning, the hostess asked whether I’d like breakfast. I answered, “Sure,” after which she didn’t offer anything! I went home hungry, as had happened on previous occasions. Was any of their behavior rude?

Perhaps. But the biggest transgression — not feeding you breakfast — sounds merely forgetful, not necessarily rude.

As you pointed out, and as Miss Manners constantly reminds her readers, hosts are not required to serve food brought by guests when a meal has already been prepared. That your hosts enjoyed an occasional cookie whilst working in the kitchen is not truly impolite, just sneaky. And eventually you did get your dessert, cookies and all.

Miss Manners’ advice in the future would be to come to your friends’ house well-fortified — with some breakfast bars packed in your overnight bag, just in case.

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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