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Poetry can't stop sticky fingers

Dear Miss Manners: We built a beautiful vacation rental home and spent a lot of time and money to furnish it with quality items so that our rental guests can feel that they have their "home away." Many people expressed delight, saying that how much they enjoy the provisions.

We run a substantial financial deficit on the home and don't know if we'll break even -- ever. We opened our home for others to enjoy. Several items are already "disappearing," and we decided not to replace them. Our home is individually owned -- we are not part of a larger business (not that this is appropriate, either) that might be able to absorb the losses.

Some time ago, I saw a little poem that politely reminded people that these items are here for them to use at our home and to please leave them behind for the next person to use; and also, please treat the home with respect so that it remains nice in the years to come when they return.

Can you provide me a few polite reminders that I can frame and place in a few rooms?

Gentle Reader: If Miss Manners knew a little poem or a cute saying that would reform thieves on the spot, she would be in conference with the police department right now.

You do not say whether it is your shampoo bottle or your television set that keeps getting stolen. Hotels give away the former, which has gotten people used to believing that they are owed a souvenir, but it has not prevented the theft of larger items.

At any rate, a warning, however coyly worded, would insult your honest guests. Miss Manners suggests you limit your guest list to them.

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Brother not ready to talk

Dear Miss Manners: My brother served in Iraq a couple of years ago. He suffers from PTSD and was wounded. The physical wound is not one you can see, but people (family especially) will still ask him what it was like to fight in the war and even go so far as to ask if he killed anyone.

We have a family reunion coming up, which he is considering not attending because of the possibility of having to field questions of that nature. Would it be OK to just give family a heads up to not ask him about his war experience?

Gentle Reader: It would be kind to save your brother the trouble of saying, "I really don't feel like talking about the war these days," which is all he needs to say, although he will unfortunately probably find that he has to keep repeating it to the same people.

But Miss Manners begs you to do this in a nonalarmist way. You don't want the family to start looking at him nervously or backing away as he approaches.

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