DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the appropriate course of action to take when one has a scheduled appointment and the person providing the scheduled service is very late?
I always schedule the first doctor or dentist appointment of the morning so that I can minimize the amount of time away from the office. I always arrive on time, but usually the doctor or dentist arrives 45 minutes to one hour after I arrive. If I am the first patient of the day, the lateness cannot be a result of the doctor or dentist being held up with other patients.
I am a professional with a heavy billable hour requirement, so every minute spent out of the office really counts. I fear that it is inappropriate to comment on the lateness.
Is there any polite way to address this issue? Is the response different if the late service-provider is a hairdresser?
GENTLE READER: As opposed to your dentist and doctor, whose services are less crucial to your well-being?
All people who make appointments are supposed to keep them, regardless of how society or they themselves rank their importance. And that includes clients and patients, whether or not they are billable. If emergencies and other contingencies delay either party to the appointment, that person should apologize as well as explain, and do whatever he or she can to minimize the inconvenience.
In the real world, as Miss Manners is perfectly well aware, everyone from statesmen to delivery service people takes advantage of others' needs to keep them dangling. Most of their victims either swallow the rudeness or retaliate by taking their business elsewhere.
However, there is a third route to try. That is to explain your situation to the doctor or dentist and to whoever keeps track of that person's appointments and ask to be given realistic times and to be alerted when there are delays. If you ask reasonably, and leave out the speech about the value of your own time, you may get some cooperation. If not, Miss Manners is afraid that you must choose between the other two alternatives.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I'm a newspaper carrier and I've been finishing up my thank you notes for the tips I received for the holidays. The problem is that I'm not sure if I should give a note to those who did not give a special tip for the holiday but instead give a dollar or two every billing cycle. I'm very thankful for these small tips, but I'm afraid that giving a thank you note would somehow make them feel ungenerous. Should I specify that I'm thankful for their generosity over the months or not send a note at all?
GENTLE READER: If there is a distinction between steady generosity and sporadic generosity, Miss Manners would think that the steady kind more valuable, or at least not less so. Of course you should write your appreciation for those tips given over the year. This would only make them feel "ungenerous" if you seemed to be hinting that more was due, which would be ill advised as well as rude.