DEAR MISS MANNERS: My boyfriend and I had a disagreement: He called our waitress “missy” and asked her how much she wanted for a tip.
I later asked him why he did that. He said that “missy” is the same as “miss” or “ma’am,” and that it’s also polite to make sure your tip is adequate with the server.
Is this true? I’ve never heard either before.
GENTLE READER: That’s because he made it up. “Missy” should never be used – except, on occasion, with one’s own mouthy teenager (as in, “Would you like to try that again, but without the attitude, missy?”)
And no server in the history of the world ever wanted to discuss the tip, except perhaps indignantly afterward (as in, “I’m sorry, was the service not to your liking?”). Please tell your boyfriend that Miss Manners recommends he find other, less belittling honorifics for waitresses – and that he join the ranks of the rest of us in being ever befuddled about what is an adequate tip (although 20% is still usually considered standard).
DEAR MISS MANNERS: How does one respond to someone rejecting a gift? Should the giver immediately receive the returned item back and take it in stride, or are protestations warranted first?
My boss has been instrumental in starting and advancing my career. After several years, I am now in an established position, thanks to the opportunities he has provided me.
For his birthday, I purchased a food item I know he indulges in, and presented it to him with a card expressing my gratitude for his help over the years. The item was not exorbitantly expensive, but was likely a few dozen more dollars than my colleagues chipped in for a gift card. It is a nice example of this food he enjoys, and has a neat little history, which I anticipate he is aware of.
He returned it to me, stating it was too generous and that he could not accept it. I was not sure how to respond, though I was certainly a little hurt, and simply accepted it back, muttering a simple, “Oh, I’m sorry.” Would you mind sharing your insights on the most polite way to have responded?
GENTLE READER: “I truly hoped that you would enjoy this. You were so kind to me all those years and I took such pleasure in picking it out and thanking you. If you feel that it is too much, perhaps you could share it with your office.”
However, since it is food and likely perishable, Miss Manners fears it might not survive another trip back. In that case, you might add, “I suppose I can share it with my co-workers and regale them with the stories of your generosity.”
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am trying to find out if all is OK with a family member. How many times should I call or text before I become a nuisance?
GENTLE READER: Try saying, “If I don’t hear from you in the next day or two, I am going to call the police to make sure that you are still alive.” That should make the response time quicker.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com.
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