DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was supposed to meet a friend for an impromptu movie date at 6:30, outside the theater. On the way I got a little lost and managed to show up 15 minutes late, well into the previews I would imagine.
At that point I looked around and the friend was nowhere to be found. I assumed he had gone home. However, I later found out he had waited until around 6:35 and decided to go see the movie without me.
I felt bad, of course, that I had missed our date at the agreed time. But something occurred to me after I made my profuse apologies. If I were waiting for someone to show up for a date, I would give them a little more leeway than 5 minutes.
Should there be any tolerance for lateness in social matters, or is it simply intolerable in any amount? And what is the appropriate response, for both parties?
GENTLE READER: Let us not generalize the question of tolerance for lateness. There is a big difference between being 15 minutes late for a cocktail party and being 15 minutes late for your own wedding. Or anyone else's. Or for a lunch date with someone who has only an hour. Or for a movie that starts at a stated time.
That movies do not actually start at their stated times, but take advantage of audience gullibility to show advertisements followed by preview after preview -- and even etiquette warnings -- is so preposterous that Miss Manners and many others keep forgetting.
Perhaps your friend does, too, or perhaps he likes to see all that, or perhaps he wants to find a seat before the lights go out. None of this strikes Miss Manners as unreasonable, although once he got settled, he might have popped into the lobby for a minute to see if you had arrived. In any case, you should have waited for each other after the movie, exchanged apologies and forgotten it over a pleasant supper.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am having a minor problem with one of my co-workers that I hope you can help me with. When this co-worker sends me an e-mail, he begins by merely typing, "J." While "J" is indeed my first initial, it is not my name.
I realize that many e-mails do not begin with any greeting at all, but those bother me less than this co-worker using my initial (I presume because my full name of 7 letters is too long for him to type). Is there a gentle way I could request that he use my entire name in his e-mail? Since we work together I don't want to offend him, but this really gets on my nerves.
GENTLE READER: Uh-oh. You are condemning the very style that Miss Manners employs in her informal correspondence (and you may be sure that she does not conduct any formal correspondence by e-mail). So you know it cannot be incorrect.
It is, in fact, a form of abbreviation long in use among those in frequent, informal correspondence. Initials may sometimes have been used to disguise identity should letters be intercepted, but they were not used to insult.