DEAR MISS MANNERS: A friend gave me a ticket to a fundraising event for a charity for which he is a board member and whose work benefits him because he suffers from the illness they seek to eradicate. While it is a worthy organization, I do not normally support it and would not otherwise have gone.
Although he had not mentioned the need to pay him for the ticket or contribute to the charity, I wrote a modest check to the organization that evening. Acknowledging that it is irrelevant to my inquiry, it was a dreadful event from an entertainment and culinary standpoint, and I left feeling somewhat as if I had done him a favor by helping to fill his table.
A few months later, I sent an email to my friend and a number of others inviting them to purchase tickets to, and share a table with me at, a fundraiser for a political organization that advocates for the rights of members of the minority to which I and my friend above belong.
I received a scathing e-mail in return, questioning my manners because I didn't invite him and his spousal equivalent to be my guests. He invoked the earlier ticket he had given me as his justification for redressing me.
I was hurt and offended. I felt the events and organizations were quite different. His event was a charity event for which contributions were tax deductible and for which he had purchased a group of tickets because of his board membership. Mine was a political event for an organization for which I am a mere contributor. He gave me one ticket and apparently expected me to buy two for him. Upon reflection, though, those facts seem irrelevant also. Does accepting a ticket to a fundraising event generate an obligation to reciprocate -- either in general or based on the facts above?
GENTLE READER: Oh, please don't make Miss Manners side with someone who berates his friends. She hates having to admit that rude people have even a small point on their side.
In this case, it is very small. He is wrong that you owed him tickets to another fundraiser, but you did owe some form of reciprocation. Because he mistook this for return hospitality, which even failed attempts deserve, Miss Manners gathers that you hadn't offered any. Then he would be right that you should have invited the couple as your guests. Right, but rude.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am wondering why people never return a phone call when they say they will. I know it can be an inconvenient time for some to talk at that time, but when they say they will call back, the time frame is way beyond when the call was even made. Some of these people will tell me they are so busy. Is there a response that I can use to tell the person that it really bothered me that it took a week for them to return the call?
GENTLE READER: "I forget what I was calling you about."