Miss Manners: Report building’s dumpster problems to management?

Strangers often play a part in this problem as they approach the dumpster, rip open bags and pull out trash in search of redeemable 5-cent bottles. They then either leave the ripped bags askew or take them with them for storage, further destroying an already unsightly area with the mess they’ve left behind.

Along with this, two men have taken to using the same decrepit area to fix their cars on a daily basis. When doing so, I can hear drilling, see spotlights and smell solvents, gasoline, etc. I do not know if they live in the units, nor if the management office knows about this makeshift auto body shop.

Should I mention it or not? I have already told management about smokers in the building (because of my health problems), and loud music that would start at 11:30 p.m.

I am a fly-under-the-radar kind of person, but I feel I have legitimate concerns. Would I be viewed as a troublemaker if I mentioned these things, in your opinion?

You will definitely be viewed as a troublemaker. But Miss Manners would have asked a different question. Namely, “Is this not precisely the sort of trouble that building management is paid to address?”

Dear Miss Manners: I was invited to a public event by a friend and neighbor, but I had already made plans to attend with a separate group of friends. I politely declined, but I know I will run into him while there.

Unfortunately, this friend/neighbor doesn’t get along with these friends, or I would have invited him along. How should I have handled his invite in the first place, and what should I say when I see him at this event?

Your problem is not just that your neighbor-friend does not get along with your hosts — your problem is that your neighbor is going to think that you accepted an identical invitation after turning his down.

Assuming the public event is not a masked ball, you will want to address this situation before the surprise reveal in Act 3 — i.e., before you run into each other at the hot dog stand. Call and confess that you were unable to attend with him because you had already accepted a similar invitation from other friends; you look forward to seeing him there, you just did not want there to be any misunderstanding.

The suggested phrasing is significant. You are a guest of your other friends, and therefore not free to expand the invitation to include your neighbor.

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.