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Miss Manners 6/9

By Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have seen the rule that one does not tip the owner of a business. Why is this?

The owner of the salon is doing the exact same service for you as someone renting a booth from them. There is absolutely no logic to not tipping the owner.

My family members and I all work in the service industry, from restaurants to hospitality to salons. Some own their own businesses, and others work for someone. No one understands this belief that the owner of a business should not be tipped.

Where does this antiquated belief originate? Do you think that small-business owners are rich and don’t need, or deserve, tips?

GENTLE READER: It is not Miss Manners’ belief that all business owners are rich or that any are undeserving. But it is her distinct impression that, even when they do the same work as waiters, bellhops and hairdressers, they do not do so for the same compensation.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Several years ago, dining alone in an otherwise empty restaurant, two gentlemen were seated at the table next to mine. One man asked the other if he knew where the restroom was. He didn’t.

They both looked around for the waiter, who had disappeared. I turned to them and said something to the effect of, “Excuse me – the restroom is past that door.”

The man who had asked about the restroom snippily replied, “Thank you for letting me know, but no thank you for eavesdropping.”

Our tables were side by side. I would have had to be deaf not to hear them. Was I wrong to have said anything?

GENTLE READER: The gentleman next to you was correct that, as a general rule, it is impolite to comment on overheard conversation. But Miss Manners understands why you considered this an exigent circumstance. She would have thought the gentleman would have, as well. Had he not considered the unpleasant outcome if you had not spoken?

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I walk once a week with two friends, and for some reason, one of them consistently contradicts whatever I say. I find myself not looking forward to these walks because of the stress.

I am thinking of letting him know I will not be walking with him anymore, but before I do, should I give him a heads-up and see if he can manage to think twice before speaking?

GENTLE READER: There is a theme in Miss Manners’ mail that people who wish to terminate relationships feel a need to explain themselves on the way out the door.

She urges against such frankness. It cannot be done without critiquing, explicitly or implicitly, the recipient’s manners – which would be rude.

If that is not reason enough, she can think of two others: It will end in avoidable unpleasantness (when there is more than enough unavoidable unpleasantness to be had), and it will not change your friend’s behavior.

People who are told they are being rude will take offense. People who wonder why you are never available, however, sometimes make the inference themselves.

Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website missmanners.com.

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