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Miss Manners: People keep trying to eat and drink in my office

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Dear Miss Manners: I have been a lawyer for almost 30 years. Over the last few years, more and more clients or potential clients have come into my office carrying coffee or some other drink.

Obviously this creates a potential for a spill or ring on my beautiful desk. Also, eating or drinking is inappropriate and rude in a professional office. I do not eat or drink when clients are present, and I am surprised that some people think this is acceptable. What do you think?

That these days, owners of expensive desks, even when they are right, would do well to keep a supply of paper towels handy. But Miss Manners would allow you to say in a hospitable tone, “Why don’t you sit down and finish that and then we’ll talk,” which they might do hastily, knowing that your time is billable.

Dear Miss Manners: I have a dear friend I’ve been close to for about 10 years. I was the maid of honor for her wedding and performed all my duties, like throwing the shower and the bachelorette party.

I told her that because I was tight on money at the time, throwing these parties and paying for the supplies would have to be my wedding gift, which she seemed absolutely fine with. Her 200-plus guests all got her lovely gifts.

Now I am engaged, and because I am currently expecting, I am not working very much. My fiance isn’t, either, as he is in the middle of a career change. We are having a small, intimate wedding, and are not expecting to receive many gifts, except from the few friends attending, of whom she is one.

I have said that we would have a tight belt for some time, and she often responds by laughing and saying she spends however much she likes because, fortunately, her husband makes plenty of money.

My registry came up the other day, and she told me that I had registered for many expensive items, and asked if there was anything she could buy me from elsewhere. (Multiple items on the registry are between $15 and $40, and she has told me before that she usually spends $40 on a shower gift.)

I was flabbergasted, hurt and offended. Am I in the wrong here? How should I respond without being petty and making the situation awkward?

When you say you are “not expecting to receive many gifts, except from the few friends attending,” Miss Manners infers that you have misplaced your grammar and not your priorities.

Your desire is to de-emphasize gift-giving, which, in company with good manners, limits how you can respond to your friend’s question.

You can protest that you really do not want anything, you can refuse to provide any ideas for further acquisitions — and you can repeat either or both as often as necessary.

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

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