DEAR ABBY: I am a retired executive of a nationally known insurance company. I was with it for 31 years. I'm now 62. My wife died two years ago, and after her death I sold my house, returned to my hometown, bought a condo, joined AARP and settled in to being a "golden-ager."
Every morning I have breakfast at my favorite restaurant and read the newspaper while I eat. I'm very anti-smoking, and the restaurant has a section for nonsmokers.
A few months ago, a nice-looking woman began coming into the restaurant about the same time (mid-morning) as I did. She'd sit in the smoking section, have a couple of cigarettes, several cups of coffee and read the newspaper. She appears to be about my age, well-dressed and very attractive. I have never spoken to her. I don't even know her name.
One morning we were the only two customers in the place, and a waitress, while pouring my refill, said, "Why don't you go over there and speak to that lady and get acquainted? She lost her husband last year, and she's a very nice person."
I replied, "Thank you, but I avoid being around smokers."
This morning, the manager of the restaurant said to me, "You insulted one of my customers by saying you wanted nothing to do with her, so now she's having her coffee up the street."
Abby, that's not true -- all I said was, "I avoid being around smokers."
Should I get the lady's name and address and write her a note of apology? -- UNSURE
DEAR UNSURE: You don't owe the lady an apology; a note from you would indicate a special interest in her.
The waitress showed poor judgment in repeating your remark. She should have kept her mouth shut -- and so should the manager, who will be lucky if he doesn't lose a second customer for putting you on the spot.