DEAR MISS MANNERS: A friend and I have noticed a lessened interest in the maintenance of consideration for people and their time and were wondering if you have as well. It seems to be a new trend when arranging social get-togethers.
I am not talking about the "Hey, if you don't have plans tonight let's go to the movies" kind of invitation. I am talking about arranging a special meal for friends or a work get-together. For example, a long-time friend of mine traveled here for a business trip, and I asked him for dinner with a few friends on that Wednesday. He told me that he was waiting on another friend to confirm a night before he could commit to my invitation. Do I wait patiently or do I rescind the offer?
Another example is a manager wants to arrange a night for the team to go have a drink at a local pub for the following week. Monday, the week of the "get-together" comes with no confirmation. Does the employee make plans or wait for the manager?
GENTLE READER: People do seem to be tossing their friends into social limbo with wild abandon these days. It is rude of them. But Miss Manners assures you that it is not rude to refuse to stay there.
In the case of a guest who hedges, you might want to grant a small amount of leeway, saying, "Please let me know by..." a few days later. But you can also withdraw the invitation by saying, "I'm so sorry -- I'll try to catch you another time."
If it is the host who is actually wavering -- if he has failed to name date, time and place -- you can make other plans. But if the necessary information was given and you still feel you need confirmation, you can ask, "Are we still on for drinks this week?"
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I live in a big city where the politics of dining out can be complicated. The delicate dance of earning a tip and leaving a tip has changed to a figurative wrestling match.
Instead of the waiter taking your money and bringing your change, they often ask if you'd like change. When they grudgingly bring the change instead of pocketing it, it's usually in denominations that don't allow a fitting tip. For example, you give them a $20 bill for a $14.50 (a tip of $3 +/-), and they bring a $5 bill and two quarters. Where are the $1 bills?!
I left the server the 50 cents and not-so-nice note, and feel crummy about not dealing with this more directly.
Lately, even if the service during the meal was excellent, and I'd be tempted to leave all the change, the bill-wrangling spoils my generous mood. This is no way to end a fine meal!
Has Miss Manners come up with a sufficiently effective way to head this wrangling off at the pass?
GENTLE READER: Credit cards? Carrying small bills?
Easier still would be to hand back the five-dollar bill, asking pleasantly, "May I have singles for this, please?"
Miss Manners deplores maneuvers intended to embarrass people into increasing their tips. But she sees no reason for the targets to cooperate by becoming embarrassed.