DEAR MISS MANNERS: What does one do with used linen guest towels? As a hostess, I provide a stack of lovely guest towels in the first-floor "powder room," but they are never used; guests use the one towel on the towel rack.
I believe the reluctance to use the guest towels is perplexity regarding the disposal of the towel once it is used. I keep a smallish, basket-type receptacle on the floor for disposal -- to no avail. What should I provide for my guests and how do I convey use of the items I provide?
GENTLE READER: It's not the disposal problem. It's the totem problem.
Of all things to revere, our society has chosen to treat the guest towel as a sacred object, not to be profaned by use. People who scorn etiquette and flout its rules nevertheless respect the linen guest towel.
You have done all you reasonably can, and the rest is up to your guests. Other despairing hostesses have resorted to terrycloth or "fancy" paper versions, but Miss Manners considers that pandering.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband waits tables in a fine-dining restaurant that is run by a family. They are all incredibly rude, asking questions that are quite frankly none of their business.
I worked in this restaurant for about a year until I realized I couldn't put up with the erratic demands and fiery temperament of one of the owners in particular.
This man is where my trouble comes in. There is no actual cutoff time to the dinner shift. It's basically a situation where they "get out when they get out." For this reason, I occasionally find myself having to call and ask my husband if he's ready to be picked up. I only call when I'm not going to be at home and he won't know where to find me.
Usually when I call, this rude owner picks up the phone and makes inappropriate jokes to me like, "He left with another girl" or "He's in the back making out with one of the waitresses." I understand that these are supposed to be construed as jokes. I have tried to take this with a grain of salt, but I have to say that after a year of this I am ready to blow.
I have actually tried to just figure out when my husband would be off and wait out front for him in the car. However, I am eight months pregnant and I have a 2 year old. It's not rational to have to do this.
What do you suggest? If you are going to suggest that my husband say something, I have already asked him to set some boundaries with this man and his response is "He's just kidding."
GENTLE READER: Not having to deal with tedious intermediaries is as good an argument as Miss Manners has heard in favor of cellular telephones.
But even if you do have to talk to such a person, you don't have to encourage him by reacting. The reply to "He left with another girl" should be "Please tell him to call me when he gets back," and to "He's in the back making out" should be "Please tell him to call me when he's finished." It should not be hard to muster a bored tone with which to respond to such boring jokes.