DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was wondering, what is the correct way to accept an apology that is due?
For example, when someone steps on the back of your foot when you are walking and they say sorry, what should you say? I find it wrong to say, "Oh, it's all right," because it wasn't all right. However, just not saying anything is rude.
While I know someone stepping on someone's foot isn't that big of a deal and truly is an accident, I have had experiences that aren't so accidental.
For another example, at work, one of my managers has been talked to, over and over, about getting involved in someone else's work. One time I was assisting a customer, and he said that he had a problem with his Internet banking, and I told him he would have to contact our corporate office to resolve the problem.
She all of a sudden stepped in and said, "His debit card isn't locked." I replied, "No, his debit card isn't locked, but his Internet banking is." She didn't say anything until the customer left, then she proceeded to say that she was sorry for interrupting, but if it was a problem with his debit card she would have been able to fix it.
I told her it was all right, but it wasn't all right. I felt compelled to acknowledge her apology, but I didn't know what to say. What should I have said?
GENTLE READER: To the person who stepped on your foot, "I'm all right, thanks," adding, if necessary, "but would you mind getting off now?" Miss Manners believes you can accept such an apology without it's meaning, "Oh, any time, help yourself, I don't mind."
But she acknowledges that you have a point to make to your manager. You can do this by saying, "I appreciate your saying that. I wouldn't have wanted our customer to think that I wasn't capable of handling the situation."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a long-time friend whom I've seen less and less frequently. This past year, I turned down numerous invitations because drinking was at the center of each activity.
When I've made arrangements to see my friend in neutral environments (lunch, movies, etc.), she always cancels.
I am not a teetotaler, but through the years, it seems more and more people have problems with alcohol, and I simply don't enjoy their company. Is it necessary for me to explicitly state I would like to see her when she's sober, or is providing the opportunity enough?
GENTLE READER: "I'd like to see you when you're sober" is not an invitation likely to be accepted. But then, Miss Manners has noticed that your friend doesn't show up for sober occasions anyway.
So it does not sound as if you are on intimate enough terms to attempt to deal with any problems this person may have. The most you can say to augment your invitations is, "I'd love to see you, but I don't drink enough to enjoy occasions when people do."