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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Civilized response can trump truth

Judith Martin Universal Uclick

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Please counsel the polite customer as to the proper way to answer the question often posed by restaurant waiters, “How is everything?” when the honest answer may not be entirely complimentary.

GENTLE READER: Waiters tend to believe that the question is a polite convention – the professional equivalent of “How are you? – not meant to be taken literally.

And many customers believe it is an invitation to deliver a lengthy review of the service, the setting and the soup.

Believing that Civilized Behavior trumps Truth No Matter the Cost, Miss Manners eschews both extremes. It is permissible to raise issues that the server can address. These include, “Thank you, the steak appears to be lovely, but I ordered the salmon,” and, “Fine, thank you, would it be possible to get the check now?”

They do not include detailed critiques of the choice of ingredients.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it inappropriate to give a co-worker his wedding gift at the office? The wedding will take place in his hometown, and it didn’t make sense to take the gift all the way there, when he will have to transport it all the way back here where he lives.

GENTLE READER: Delivering a present at a wedding, when Miss Manners hopes that the recipients’ minds are otherwise occupied, is never correct. But delivering it at work may also be inconvenient, not only because your co-worker would have to lug it on his commute home, but also because it may cause him problems with co-workers who were not invited to the wedding.

Traditionally, wedding presents sent before the ceremony are mailed to the bride’s home, but as he is the one you know, you may mail it to his home and presume that he will share it.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email, dearmissmanners@; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
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