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Miss Manners: On not hearing back after ‘let me check’

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am single. Very often, when I ask married friends or potential friends to meet me for a meal or another event – either with the spouse or without – I get an enthusiastic response, followed by, “Let me check with (spouse) to see if we have anything else planned.”

And then I never hear a response back. This happens even when I throw several dates out, or I tell them to let me know what night they are free.

My instinct is to think they really were not interested. I do not follow up, because I do not want to make them uncomfortable. But perhaps they simply got busy and forgot. Either way, my feelings are hurt.

Is there a polite way to address this? Or should I cross these people off my list of potential friends?

GENTLE READER: More likely, their spouses gave them a similarly vague response and they got tired of asking.

While this practice of non-response is clearly rude, Miss Manners recommends that you attempt at least one follow-up before you start eliminating friends: “I hate to nag you about nagging Dirk, but if you are not able to use the concert tickets, I might attempt to nag another friend’s husband. Please let me know.”

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Since my 48th birthday last year, I have had at least three restaurant clerks put a “senior discount” on my bill without even asking. The standard minimum age for senior discounts is, I believe, 55; however, I am less bothered by the “you look old” assessment than by the guilt over accepting something I don’t officially merit. I do try to correct people when it happens, but they just shrug it off and say, “Keep the discount.”

Wouldn’t the polite approach be to wait for the customer to request the discount herself – or at least to ask if she wants one, rather than automatically putting it on the bill?

GENTLE READER: At least the restaurant did not issue the discount while saying, “Here you go, young lady!”

Forgive Miss Manners. She finds it necessary to count blessings when it comes to the condescending treatment of senior citizens. Since you are not currently one, you may politely correct these helpful clerks – resisting the urge to laugh at their youthful folly.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: We will be soon be hosting our daughter’s fifth birthday party. We always include food for all attending (children and the accompanying adults). Most parents do not eat at children’s parties, but we have always gotten them to join us for the pizza and cake and absolutely love it!

How do I tell my guests that while they are waiting for the children to finish playing, they can help themselves to coffee/tea/lemonade? The drinks are free and already included in the cost, and we do not have to pay extra. The venue is a family fun center where they will have to walk up to the counters and ask for the drinks.

GENTLE READER: “Please help yourself to drinks at the counter. Tell them you are here for Eliana’s party.” The clerks at the counter, if not the guests, will know exactly what that means.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com.


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