DEAR MISS MANNERS: My wife insists on sending out birthday/anniversary cards exactly two ?days before the event, hoping it gets there on the very day. Many times ?it arrives late, because no one can predict how long it takes the USPO to deliver a letter.
I prefer to send it four or five days early, to be sure it gets there BEFORE the event. I believe a late-arriving card is inconsiderate, suggesting I didn't care enough to send the card on time.
My wife believes an early-arriving card says "I don't care much about you. I just send these cards out ?whenever," meaning, I didn't take enough thought to get the card to you on the very day of the event (which, I believe, is impossible without using overnight delivery).
Am I right to be embarrassed by the late-arriving cards she sends, with my name on them? Is there anything wrong with a birthday card arriving a few days before the birthday? That's how we deliver wedding/birthday/Christmas presents.
GENTLE READER: There is something wrong -- no, just sad -- about the two of you speculating on the number of ways that your friends will hate you for sending them your good wishes. Sending cards is not the usual way of letting people know you don't care about them.
If Miss Manners had to choose, she would favor getting them there before the date, rather than after. But she would also choose friends who did not take insult when kindness was intended.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was walking toward the entrance of my condominium carrying a pile of loose uniforms as another older lady approached at the same time. She stopped several feet from the door, fumbling through her purse for her keys. I already had my keys in my hand, so I unlocked the door, walked in but still held the door open for her with my one free hand. She said thank you. Two seconds later, as she followed me, she yelled loudly, "You're welcome!" She was obviously mad that I didn't say "you're welcome."
I always say thank you to anyone who holds the door for me, but I never require anyone to stop and turn around (especially when someone was carrying tons of items) and formally acknowledge the fact that I said thanks. Many times, a smile, a nod, or an uh-huh is given but even then, I don't expect anything. I open a door because it's the nice thing to do. I don't expect thanks (and sometimes I don't even get it) or an acknowledgement of the thanks. Did I make a mistake by not acknowledging?
GENTLE READER: Not as big a mistake as she did. Trying to teach manners by being rude is as unpleasant as it is futile. Miss Manners has never yet heard of someone who was humiliated into reforming in the hope of pleasing the stranger who caused that humiliation.
But rude would-be reformers keep trying. The particular method practiced on you is more often directed at those who neglect to say thank you -- a fat, dripping "Well, thank you" is said by the person who should have been thanked. Whichever way, it doesn't work.