DEAR MISS MANNERS: I just opened up my electricity statement, and the bill seemed way too high. I looked at the usage history, and the kilowatt-hours listed for each month ranged from two to three times my actual usage.
I then noticed that the bill was for my next-door neighbor. Oops. In the morning, I am going to deliver the bill to my neighbor and apologize for inadvertently opening it.
Should I mention that their bill looked really high? Maybe their meter is malfunctioning, or maybe they have some really energy-consuming equipment running in their house. Or maybe they kept their house at 40 degrees during the summer (though I doubt this, because the bill was outrageously high every month).
Once I noticed it was their bill and not mine, I stopped looking at it. But what do I do with the information I learned when I thought it was my bill? What is a good neighbor supposed to do in this circumstance?
GENTLE READER: Nothing. This was not your bill, and quite literally not your business.
Miss Manners has, however, noticed that some electrical companies provide helpful neighborly comparisons to show how one could reduce bills through their service. Let them do it.
As the neighbor, you surely don’t want to damage relations by appearing nosy — or be similarly subjected to unsolicited advice from them.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: When a videoconference is scheduled for a certain time, does one “arrive” 10 minutes ahead of time in order to try to connect and solve any technical problems? Or does one arrive at exactly the time announced and then start solving technical problems — and then wait while others arrive and solve their technical problems?
Although I think that the online event should resemble an in-person meeting, where attendees arrive early and the meeting begins at the scheduled time, it appears that most webinars only begin to allow attendees into the virtual room at the meeting time. So it is only then that you realize your technology isn’t working, or that the link is incorrect, and you have to hurriedly troubleshoot while others do the same.
I am new to the world of doing everything online like this, so I wondered if there were established protocols that I don’t know about.
GENTLE READER: The new conference rules, Miss Manners finds, are not so dissimilar to meetings held in person: Try to arrive early, and be prepared for congestion.
Hosts should arrive at least a few minutes in advance to prepare for timely guests, but all involved should exercise patience and good humor at inevitable delays. At five minutes past the start time, however, if a quorum is achieved, the meeting may reasonably start.
Finally, inevitable latecomers and those having trouble with their technology should make efforts to cause as little interruption as possible. That is where “mute upon arrival” will be sorely missed when we finally return to the physical world.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, [email protected]; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.