DEAR MISS MANNERS: A colleague has offered to bring coffee to an upcoming meeting of about five people, and I'm wondering if it's appropriate to offer my co-worker's particular coffee preferences.
With everybody's unique coffee demands nowadays (half-caf, double whip, extra hot, with room), is it reasonable to offer these known preferences, or do I wait for the person offering to ask?
I'm pretty sure they want everybody to be happy with the coffee they bring, and I think the others would certainly appreciate that personalized touch, but I feel like I might be turning the kind offer to bring coffee into more than what was initially offered.
I realize it would be unreasonable to make these specialized requests for a group of 20. What would be your threshold for how big a group this would be acceptable?
GENTLE READER: "May I get anyone some coffee?" is such a courteously collegial prelude to a meeting that Miss Manners hates to see it disappear.
But it is not going to survive if the generous colleague is pelted with orders for espresso, regular, cappuccino, mocha, Americano, frappucchino, caramel or iced and instructions in pseudo-Italian about the size and whether the milk should be steamed, foamed or spillable.
This is not to say that people should not get the coffee they want, which they can easily do by bringing it in themselves. But a casual offer is different from designating someone to get the lunches, which involves writing down who wants a sesame seed bagel and make sure not to get poppy seeds, who wants only the kind of yogurt that has to be stirred, and so on.
Miss Manners would say that the number of special coffee requests should equal what a reasonable person -- or the particular person making the offer -- can remember without writing anything down.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: You probably haven't encountered this question before:
At my wedding, a very close friend asked her daughter to get up and dance. To which her 30-something daughter tossed her water over her shoulder on her formally dressed mother. It's very lucky she didn't hit my elderly aunt sitting behind her.
I didn't find out about this until after the fact. However I find myself still very angry almost a month later. At her own wedding, this woman would have personally thrown someone out for doing that.
Should I say something to her or just try and forget about it? I know it was her mother that was hit and she's still not talking to her daughter, but since it was an event we put on, should I mention it or just keep my mouth shut and forget about it?
I should mention that I'm not just angry for the drama at my wedding, but my poor friend was embarrassed, and so were the other people at her table, which they have all made me aware of.
GENTLE READER: What is it you thought of saying?
"Don't you know it's rude to throw water at your mother?"
"You almost hit my aunt"?
"I'll never invite you to another wedding of mine again"?
Miss Manners could go on, but you probably see her point: The scene is over and done with, it was between mother and daughter and you were not even aware of it at the time. You don't even need to let this person know why you -- and probably everyone within range of her waterfall -- are now steering clear of her. She knows.