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Advice | Miss Manners: Stranger asked to block my driveway for ‘five minutes’


Dear Ms. Manners,: I live in a busy area and parking is a hot topic. My car was parked in my driveway, and as I was loading stuff into the back, someone pulled up and asked, “Are you leaving now?” I said, “This is my driveway,” repeated it a few times, then added, “I’m the only one who can park here.”

I was honestly confused. They explained that they asked my permission to park ‘five minutes’ in front of the driveway, which is illegal. I see the logic, but I want to be able to exit my driveway whenever I feel like it. Nor do I have the authority to make someone park illegally (or commit any other crime).

I finally said “fine” just to be done with it.

Were they wrong when they asked me that favor? What should I have said? I honestly didn’t have to leave during those five minutes, but it still bothers me.

Assuming you were not asked to assist in a bank robbery as a result of the parking violation, the question of etiquette seems more interesting than the legal one, according to Miss Manners. Considering her field of expertise, that is fortunate.

The driver asked for a favor. This is not a breach of etiquette, nor can you refuse it if you wish. Today, she assumes that anyone can truthfully say at any time, “I’m sorry, I can’t, I’m expecting a package.” But if not, there’s always, “I need to get it clear in the next hour.”

Dear Ms. Manners,: My sister, a widow, is getting remarried and I couldn’t be happier for the couple. My problem concerns a bachelorette party hosted by some of her friends, to which I have been invited.

I’ll be the maid of honor and realize it’s appropriate that I’m at least present, but the shower is literally halfway across the country from me. I can barely afford the plane ticket for the wedding myself.

May I suggest to the hostesses that I be “present” via video conference to let my sister know that I am happy for her, despite not being able to shower in person?

Virtually ‘attending’ yes not, as you acknowledge through your use of quotes, the same as being present. The technology will undoubtedly continue to evolve. But for now, asking guests to crouch in a circle around a computer screen or phone and jockey for a position where they can see and hear the speaker is an obligation.

If you were an ailing matriarch who could only be so admitted, Miss Manners would agree to such accommodation for a limited portion of the event. In the situation you describe, your sister will no doubt be much more grateful for an extended phone call at another time and for help you can provide from a distance.

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

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