Ask Ann Cannon: What does polite society look like in the coronavirus era?

Ann Cannon

Dear Ann Cannon • I have a question about coronavirus etiquette. I’ve never been a germaphobe, but this does have me concerned. I had a routine blood test yesterday and the tech shook my hand. I’ve been to several events this week where not only do people shake my hand but give a hug, too. I love this connection with friends, but in light of the impending epidemic, what’s the best way to politely handle these kinds of situations?

Concerned about the Coronavirus

Dear Concerned • When I was at a party the other night, I heard a woman say in a good-natured tone of voice to the person whom she was greeting, “Well, I guess we’re not supposed to hug for a little while!” This woman made it clear she didn’t want unnecessary physical contact, but her light, friendly tone made the moment less awkward. Do you think something like that would work for you? Meanwhile, I’d love readers to share their responses to your question.

Dear Ann Cannon • Two of my adult children are at a disagreement over the coronavirus scare. One is stockpiling supplies and food while the other thinks it is an overblown example of human hysteria fueled by a hungry media looking for a story. They love each other, but their polar opposite positions are creating stress between the two of them and (frankly) also for me. Both of them are campaigning me to endorse one side or the other. How do I mediate this?

Parent in the Middle

Dear Parent in the Middle • Oh, families! Like Robert Earl Keen says, the road goes on forever and the party never ends. Here’s what I’d do if I were you. Tell your kids that you don’t want to be dragged into the middle of their argument and that you expect them to work things out on their own. Then ignore them whenever they try to make you commit — unless, of course, you feel like sharing your point of the view. Then just let the chips fall where they may.

Dear Ann Cannon • I take care of my elderly mother and my niece, whom I love, brings her little children to visit often. My mother really enjoys their visits. The trouble is little children being little children, they often have colds. How can I explain they shouldn’t visit if they are sick without discouraging them from coming entirely?

Cautious Caretaker

Dear Cautious Caretaker • I think in a case like this you need to be politely upfront. Do tell your niece how much you and your mother love her and her children. Furthermore, let your niece know that your mother looks forward to their visits. But remind her that elderly people are especially susceptible to respiratory illnesses and because you all have your mother’s best interest at heart, it might be better if the children called or FaceTimed with her instead of visiting when they have colds.

Dear Ann Cannon • I apologize in advance, for I don’t mean to get political, but I see this as more of a moral question. In the upcoming presidential election, there doesn’t seem to be a single candidate from either party that really speaks to me. I don’t have anything against people who support a particular candidate (whomever it may be), but I just don’t know who I personally like (I don’t necessarily vote along party lines). I know it is our duty as citizens to vote so is there anything wrong with simply not voting? Do you have other suggestions? Thank you.

A Concerned Citizen

Dear Concerned Citizen • I do think it’s our duty as Americans to vote whenever possible. Voting is a privilege, not a birthright. But not voting because you don’t like the candidates is a form of voting in and of itself. Unless you have a candidate you want to write in, feel free to sit this one out.

Ann Cannon is The Tribune’s advice columnist. Got a question for Ann? Email her at askann@sltrib.com or visit the Ask Ann Cannon page on Facebook.