DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the etiquette around accepting parcels for neighbors? Should the original recipient come to pick it up, or is the onus on the person who accepted the delivery to then drop it off at its intended destination when the recipient appears to be home?
Due to my working hours, I am often home during the day and happy to accept deliveries for others. However, these often end up sitting in my hallway for days. Most notably, a neighbor’s flat-pack furniture boxes were partially blocking my door for over a week, until I managed to catch the neighbors outside and politely request they come get their stuff.
Sometimes I’ll pop over and drop deliveries off later (if I can carry them), but shouldn’t the recipients be making the effort to reclaim their property (assuming they received delivery information)?
GENTLE READER: It still counts as a good deed if you set the terms. A good neighbor need not be confined to her own house in the space left by other people’s purchases.
One problem may be a common attitude by commuters toward people who are at home: that they are always there, with nothing much to do. To squelch that, Miss Manners suggests that you require everyone to give you good estimates of when their packages are expected, so you can say whether you will be there, and also to say when they will pick up the item. This can be phrased in a cheerful, considerate way, because you wouldn’t want to miss the delivery, or for them not to be able to retrieve their packages when you are away.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have read that forks should be placed in the order in which they will be used, which presumably means that if salad is to be served after the main course, the salad fork should be to the right of the dinner fork.
However, I have never seen a table set this way, and it looks odd and unbalanced to me. I will be hosting a formal dinner soon where this is an issue, and I would like to get it right. Can you help me?
GENTLE READER: What strikes Miss Manners as odd is that correctness, in matters big and small, is now rare enough to seem odd.
You are quite right that flatware should be positioned, outside to inside, in order of use. This gives the lie to that canard about which fork to use being a snobbish etiquette test.
Restaurants usually serve salads before the main meal, in which case the salad fork should be on the outside. But in formal service, the salad comes afterwards, and its fork is positioned accordingly.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: What do “black tie optional” and “black tie invited” mean?
GENTLE READER: That the hosts are giving a black tie party, but understandably do not want to hear silly complaints about that being uncomfortable (usually from those who only want to declare what regular fellows they are), nor to exclude people who cannot manage that for one reason or another.
If you have received such waffling instructions on an invitation, Miss Manners hopes you will make the effort to observe the real dress code.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com.
Subscribe to the Spokane7 email newsletter
Get the day’s top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.