DEAR MISS MANNERS: I live in a large city, and I am frequently approached by individuals who may or may not be homeless, and are presumably less wealthy than I am.
I work 50 hours a week and make a median hourly wage, with no health or pension benefits, and while I could give a little money to any given individual, to give to each and every individual would require more funds than I would like to spare. (To do so would also seem to penalize those impoverished individuals who are too polite to request money from a stranger.
Typically, I simply answer these individuals with a "no," or ignore them entirely if they begin a more involved monologue. Is this the proper response? If so, is there a proper tone of voice in which to deliver it?
Note that the would-be recipients of my charity are sometimes literally asking if I have any money ("Got any change?"), not whether I will give it to them, to which the more truthful response would be, "That's none of your business," but I like to keep these interactions brief.
GENTLE READER: Would you mind also keeping them civil?
It never fails to amaze Miss Manners that people will tolerate blatant begging (in the form of "gift registries" and instructions on invitations) from friends and relatives who are in more or less the same circumstances as themselves, yet feel indignant about being importuned by the needy.
There could be many reasons for not giving money on the street, even aside from your own circumstances. But there are no excuses for being rude. Never mind the literal questions you are asked -- you need only say, "I'm sorry" and move on.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a friend whose favorite sports team plays on the opposite side of the country to where she presently lives. As you can imagine. she has few opportunities to follow their progress first hand. She will be moving (some weeks before her birthday) to a new city, relatively near (well, 45 miles) to a location where said team will play a series against the local team around the time of her birthday.
I would like to give her two tickets to one of the games for her birthday, but I am aware that she may not (for a variety of reasons) be able to attend. I would not be offended if she could not use the tickets, nor if she offered them to another who could use them.
Should the gifter acknowledge this when presenting the gift, for example in the card, or should it be assumed that this is the case?
GENTLE READER: Couldn't you save both yourself and your friend a great deal of awkwardness by telling her your idea in advance and asking when might be a convenient time for her to attend one of those games?
Yes, Miss Manners knows that you would like to surprise her. But the surprise of receiving something one would love to use but cannot is not a pleasant one.