DEAR MISS MANNERS: A good friend of mine is enrolled to be an intern at the legislature of the state during their next session. He must attend an extra class at the university to train for this position.
As part of the class training, lobbyists, legislators, educators and even the lieutenant governor come to address the class.
My friend, 20, thinks that he might be able to make himself look better and be "the best intern" if he befriends and works with some of the people who've addressed his class. He's decided that he's going to write handwritten thank-you notes to each person who speaks to the class.
I have told him that I feel that writing thank-you notes to the guest lecturers will be seen by those he writes to as brown-nosing, because he is not in a position (as is the teacher) to write thank-you notes. Is his well-intentioned letter writing polite, or will it be seen as rude for a class member to write thank-you notes to everyone who addresses the class?
GENTLE READER: What an ugly term you have for politeness that goes beyond what is required. Miss Manners can assure you that few people on the receiving end of appreciative letters harbor such suspicions. It rarely occurs to them that they might not inspire and deserve gratitude and praise.
Furthermore, anyone in politics knows the value of such letters, and would think favorably of a potential employee who has demonstrated that he knows how to write them. And if your friend does, his letter will not just thank the speaker for being there but go on to state what gems he valued from the speech.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a concierge at a luxury high-rise apartment building. Our parent company has a "no tipping" policy for all employees at the property, viewing it as our job to provide "outstanding service to our residents." We are paid generous salaries, well above the norm, since we don't supplement our incomes with tips.
All of the staff pride ourselves on delivering the best and most thoughtful service to our residents, and by doing this, we create a small problem. Often residents, and other times guests of the residents, wish to thank us by tipping us.
I usually thank them and say no, explaining that it is my pleasure to be of service. Sometimes, however, the residents become insistent. I feel bad saying that I'm not allowed to accept their money -- the best phrasing I've found is, "I appreciate the thought and am glad you're pleased, but I really can't accept that" -- and worry that the residents will feel offended. Can you suggest a polite way to refuse a tip?
GENTLE READER: Bless you for asking. Miss Manners is so inundated with demands for ways to disguise tip-gouging that she is pathetically grateful to be asked how to refuse one.
You are already declining politely and respectfully. It is a sad sign of our times that the would-be tippers are unable to believe that anyone would refuse a handout on the mere grounds of dignity and professional pride. You could add "It's against company policy," because what they do understand is the fear of losing a job (although perhaps not why one would not risk getting away with it).