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Miss Manners: We missed a school dance because of a classmate’s rule-breaking

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Dear Miss Manners: I am a high school student attending a boarding school. Every month, the school runs a bus from campus to a local shopping mall. It’s a fun way to spend time with friends, do some shopping and grab dinner.

Last month, my friends and I signed up for the mall trip to purchase some new clothes before a school dance in the evening. Unfortunately, not all went as planned. One of the other students took the bus to the mall, decided to leave early and took a car service back to campus. This is completely against school rules. Because no one could get in touch with him, we had to wait around at the mall while they tried to locate him. We all ended up missing the dance.

We were upset, saying that this student was selfish and that he should apologize. But his friends defended him, arguing that one of the chaperones could have waited around at the mall for him while the other chaperone escorted the rest of the students back to campus. What do you think?

That arguing with people who inconvenienced themselves to make sure their classmate was okay, which is what your friends did, is not just rude, but also shortsighted.

Dear Miss Manners: My elderly mom lives alone, and I live a few hours away. Her next-door neighbors have two sons, who have helped out many times with shoveling snow. They refuse payment. Their mother says it’s important that her children do kind things for others without expecting payment. I admire and respect their family’s values, and I am trying to raise my children the same way.

Now my mom is hospitalized, and her lawn service has stopped showing up, leaving some very long grass. The neighbor’s son, now in his 20s, is mowing the lawn and again refusing payment, though my family is able to afford it. My mother had a payment lined up for her regular lawn service.

I would like to do something nice for these neighbors to show our gratitude, but I also do not wish to insult them by pushing money on them. I am lining up a new lawn service as fast as possible, so hopefully this is a one-time occurrence. Would it be appropriate to give them a thank-you note with a gift card for a takeout meal?

You really want to pay, don’t you?

As you know, this goes counter to the wishes of your benefactor. Miss Manners would prefer you send a really good letter of thanks, and is willing to have you add a small gift. But it must be something other than currency, even disguised currency — something, rather, that demonstrates that you have taken the time to think about what they might like.

Dear Miss Manners: A co-worker brought me dinner after my recent surgery. Was I obligated to ask her to stay for dinner?

To hear, over a meal, the details of your surgery?

No. Miss Manners believes that your co-worker understood that the meal was an act of kindness for someone who is not in a position to cook — nor to act as a host. That can be done when you are fully recovered.

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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