DEAR MISS MANNERS: Our company head office has sent us money to have a luncheon on Christmas Eve. Because it is not very much money, two of us in management have decided it would be cheaper to buy cold cuts and buns. We would make up meat trays ourselves.
When this was announced at a staff meeting, one employee spoke up in front of everyone and said, "No offense, but I don't know where your hands have been."
I am very offended by this, especially since she is probably not the cleanest person. She sees nothing wrong with what she said and won't let up on the subject. I told her I was offended by what she said but she says that is the way she feels, and she sees nothing wrong with it. I think this was a very rude and ignorant thing to say.
I could stoop to her level and tell her, her breath stinks all the time and she sometimes smells like urine. But I happen to care about people's feelings. Guess what I need is a good comment to put her in her place. Any suggestions?
GENTLE READER: "Of course we plan to wash our hands and wear plastic gloves. But thank you for the reminder."
Oops, sorry to disappoint you. But although you said you wanted to put this employee in her place, you also said that you did not want to place yourself at her level. You specificially said that you care about people's feelings.
Oh -- not that much?
Well, all right. Miss Manners agrees that nothing good ever follows the phrase "No offense, but ..." She will allow you to say quietly, "I'm afraid that I am offended that you thought we might risk your health with unsanitary conditions."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Am I obliged to reply to all Christmas cards that I receive?
I am speaking not of a business-style card but a personal Christmas card from a mere acquaintance. I've been trying to drop her for years but it's not working.
I'm faced with the dilemma of having been so nice and polite to her in the past that she thinks I actually LIKE her, and since no one else does and practically runs when she approaches, I seem to have given her the impression that we are bosom buddies.
I send cards to my friends and family, and make sure that I respond to any cards I receive, but I just don't WANT to acknowledge hers. When is enough enough? And how do I politely respond when she pins me in a conversational corner next spring by bellowing, "WELL? Where's my Christmas Card? I sent YOU one!"
GENTLE READER: Christmas card lists do have to be pruned occasionally, or we would have to start turning the Christmas trees into pulp. It takes a minimum of two years before the other person makes a corresponding trim, sometimes with relief.
Should this person press the matter in the rude way you fear, your answer should be, "Oh, I'm sending fewer cards now, but thank you for yours."