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The question

I did a friend a favour recently. She was in from out of town and asked if I would host a birthday dinner for her. I was happy to do it, but it was expensive and time-consuming – but I never got any got any sort of acknowledgment from her (or really anyone else.) She posted pictures on social media all about “her” party, but never got in touch with me to say thanks before leaving town and basically falling out of touch with me. It was a lot of work! Am I wrong to feel miffed about this? Should I say something to her? I feel like if I continue to nurse these feelings of resentment it will affect our friendship.

Our friend’s 40-year-old brother won’t leave the guest room. How do we kick him out?

I’ve fallen for someone who’s unwilling to commit. What should I do?

I moved to be closer to my siblings, who won’t invite me anywhere unless I find a partner. Is this normal?

The answer

I’ve written before about how there seems to be a decline in expressions of gratitude in general lately.

I have a friend who just the other day (as I write this) became so exasperated with people not thanking her when she tips them, she unleashed one of those pre-emptive, peremptory “you’re welcome”s.

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You know those? She was in a fairly swish bar, ordered what turned out to be an $18 glass of wine. (And this is why I can’t go to these places: I don’t like spending that much on a bottle of wine, let alone a piddly, mostly empty glass.) The bartender passed her a debit machine, which asked her how much she’d like to tip – 15 per cent? 20 per cent?

(Like I said, I don’t go out to these places often so it’s been a while: Do they still have a 10-per-cent button?)

She, being a former “server” (don’t like that term, but it’s lingua franca these days) pushed the 20-per-cent button. The bartender said nothing. She waited a moment, then said, “You’re welcome.” The bartender looked baffled, like, what are you even talking about? Her: “I just gave you a nice tip!”

More incomprehension from the other side of the bar. He didn’t have the tools – he lacked the chip that might have told him he should thank anyone for a tip.

But worse, much worse, is throwing a party for someone and not being thanked. If anyone throws open the doors of their domicile to me, I always call or e-mail the next day (or the day after) to say thanks and show my appreciation. Because I know the mountain of effort entailed in these sorts of situations. We practically have to renovate our whole house when people come over.

When people are slated to come over, my wife will look around and say stuff like: “Hmm, we should touch up the chipped paint on the banister, sand the bench in the backyard, weed the garden, launder the towels in the bathroom and all our bedclothes,” and on and on the list goes.

Then there’s the shopping, obviously; the cooking, obviously. It can’t be just any old workaday food, such as chili; it has to be something fancy that you’ve hardly, if ever, made before, such as Oysters Rockefeller or Clams Casino, or something else with “potential for disaster” and “stress from attempting this dish may be harmful for your mental health” written all over it.

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Stress that may lead to friction with your girlfriend, boyfriend or spouse. When my wine-bottle-toting friends come over for dinner, as they roll through the front door, after obligatory hugs and kisses, they always ask my wife and I, in matter-of-fact tones: “How was your predinner argument? Bad one?”

And that’s not even counting the next-day cleanup. Rolling down from your sleeping quarters, looking around at a house that seems like it’s been ransacked by malicious, yet carefree vandals, thinking of all the hours of drudgery that lie before you?

All that, for the benefit of someone else, and no “thank you?” I think you’re well within your rights to bring it up.

As always, be polite, circumspect, but let’s say not overly circumlocutory – maybe something like:

You: “That was fun the other night, wasn’t it?”

(Her answer here. If it’s not a thank you)

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You – something like: “Yeah, I worked hard on it, hoping you would enjoy yourself (Alt: Appreciate it).”

And onward in that vein. Eventually, ideally, she will come to understand you are fishing for some sort of expression of gratitude and issue the obligatory “thank you.”

If not, well, I don’t consider myself to be a bitter, vindictive person, (although, who knows: Maybe that’s what I’ve become in my old age. Soon, I will be shaking my fists at ball-hockey-playing urchins, my bandy/gamey legs glowing fish-white out from under my tattered bathrobe), but I would not continue to do her these types of favours anymore, in future.

Why shower favours on ingrates? Hey – good aphorism! Coined by me! If, with all your hints and overtures, you still can’t squeeze the simplest show of gratitude out of her, turn her down next time and let someone else do all the shopping, cooking and cleaning in her thankless world.

Are you in a sticky situation? Send your dilemmas to damage@globeandmail.com. Please keep your submissions to 150 words and include a daytime contact number so we can follow up with any queries.

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