DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the etiquette of giving or regifting a fruitcake for the holidays? Should I start a vicious cycle by giving someone a fruitcake? And should I get one, is it OK for me to regift it to someone else? What if I get one...what is the appropriate response?
GENTLE READER: Vicious cycle? And here Miss Manners thought it was a holiday tradition.
The proper response is to thank the people who gave it to you. And to remove the card before passing it on. After proper aging, it will eventually reach the two or three people in this world who love fruitcake.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I would really appreciate it if you would put this up for your gentle readers to have a better understanding of those of us working retail.
We know the lines are long; please do not take out your frustration on us; we are moving as fast as we can without making mistakes.
We know we need to call for assistance if there are any unmanned registers; that is why we request it over the store's speakers.
Please pay attention to when we make the calls; demanding 10 seconds later that we call again is not going to speed things up. It may take 10 whole seconds for assistance to arrive from the other end of the store or for assistance to make itself available.
Please be patient; chances are good that the retailer you are waiting for was hired recently for holiday help and may not be proficient with the local registers/computers. We all have to start some time, and if we are unsure, it is safer to ask a manager about policy than let you have your way only to get written up for breaking it later.
We know there are many stores out there; please keep all of your receipts so that you are not left with a book from one store that you tried to return to a different bookstore. Yes, I assure you the inventories ARE different between stores, and that yes, they will refuse to honor each other's gift cards.
Please pay attention to who you call. There are many stores in the Yellow pages that are right above each other. The item you reserved may be in Peasanton or Pleasant Hill, and unless you are alert, you may end up reserving an item at the wrong store.
If what you ask is against store policy, please do not change tactics. No is no and the Corporate enforces these rules with audits. If it is not possible to acquiesce, becoming angry, defensive, insulted or louder than necessary will not get you your way. The "Customer from Heck" is a favorite gossip story among staff and you may be the day's top story over the water cooler.
GENTLE READER: Hang in there, Christmas rush will soon be over, and it will be time for -- returns! and sales!
Miss Manners is in tremendous sympathy with the drubbing people in retail get from those out to celebrate a festival of peace. She has observed the melee in the aisles.
With all her heart, she joins you in begging your customers to behave with the consideration, fairness and dignity that they expect in their working lives.
But she asks something of you which may be even harder. That is to remember that you are the grown-ups in this situation, and to remain calm and professional under trying circumstances.