DEAR MISS MANNERS: When my husband and I used an 800 number to make reservations for a one-night stay at an out-of-town hotel, our arrival date was somehow misrecorded at the actual hotel. We found on arrival that we had no reservation, although the people at the 800 number did have the correct date.
When I pointed out the error to the hotel employee, who I assume is a representative for that establishment, I used the pronoun "you," meaning the hotel. In a diatribe lasting in excess of five minutes, she repeated that she personally had not caused my problem. She made no effort to help us in finding alternate accommodations.
It appears to me that this response is becoming more and more common among employees. Things of this sort have happened before, but I was treated with courtesy, and an attempt was made to assist me. Also, apologies were made on the part of the management.
Was I wrong to expect such a response on the part of this employee?
GENTLE READER: Wrong, as in you are not likely to get it? Or wrong as in how dare you unload your complaint on an innocent person just because she happened to be standing in the wrong place (the desk where customers are supposed to take their problems) at the wrong time (when you, a customer, have a problem)?
A weary "yes" to the first question, Miss Manners is afraid, but a hearty "no" to the second.
The problem here is a failure to understand professional manners. People who have been taught that the most important thing is to be themselves -- those are the ones who are always carrying on about their identity problems -- have trouble assuming even such a simple professional role as the representative of the company that employs them. Hence they see you as the kindergarten teacher who punishes the wrong child, or the whole class, for what another child did.
Miss Manners suggests taking your complaint up high enough until you find someone who understands how to do business.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the correct thing to do when people are obviously avoiding you? We gave a party last month when I finally got my degree. (I am 50.) I hoped my friends would celebrate with me. Well, almost a third never replied and didn't come.
This was crushing, though some called and apologized. But others are avoiding me, I suppose because they're embarrassed. Their behavior makes me want to avoid them, too. I was at a function this week for two hours with a woman who managed to never notice I was there. What should I do in this awkward situation?
GENTLE READER: Walk up to her and say, "I'm so sorry we didn't see you at our party. We were afraid there might be something wrong, because we never heard from you. I'm glad you're all right, but we missed you."
Miss Manners assures you that this is the gracious way to teach people that attempting to avoid embarrassment by compounding their rudeness with even greater rudeness is not a useful tactic.