DEAR MISS MANNERS: When I attended a fundraising event, I purchased the type of raffle tickets that are dropped into the baskets of prizes one hopes to win. Due to my inattention, I dropped a ticket into a basket I was not interested in.
As luck would have it, I won the prize, tickets to an event I was not eager to attend. I might have attended, but my mother became ill.
A friend who had helped organize the raffle noticed I did not use the tickets. I explained about my mother’s illness and subsequent death. My friend chastised me for not trying to find someone to use the tickets. She claims the donor will be reluctant to make future donations.
I numbly mumbled a response and walked away. What is the appropriate response in a situation such as this?
GENTLE READER: Even had your excuse for not using the tickets been less compelling, Miss Manners does not equate raffle prizes with personal invitations: You are obliged to pay for the raffle ticket; you are not obliged to make the trip to Tahiti.
Your friend’s lack of compassion toward you is matched by an equal lack of understanding of the donor’s priorities. Instead of being discouraged, that person may be delighted to realize that he can donate without having to make good on his promise.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: How does one thank someone who seems to take joy in giving someone inappropriate gifts? Such as a huge box of candy to an obese mother who is trying to lose weight for her health, or a bottle of scotch to an AA member?
I have asked them please not to gift me with foods – yet just yesterday I got a huge basket of junk food, most of which I cannot eat.
GENTLE READER: As you have discovered, it is possible to follow polite forms and yet be rude.
The solution is to answer in kind. Mean-spirited gifts should receive correct, but tight-lipped, thanks. They can be given slight attention and put aside quickly.
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