DEAR MISS MANNERS: Receiving a citation from a law enforcement officer, in person, is generally a very unpleasant surprise (for example, when being stopped for speeding). However, at the conclusion of such interaction, it seems dismissing the officer with a "thank you" after receipt of the citation is awkwardly impotent. I can think of no other appropriate -- yet polite and neutral phrase -- to dismiss the officer after such an involuntary transaction has transpired that would serve to acknowledge receipt, yet not necessarily be thankful for, such notice.
Does it not seem unreasonable to thank an authority for meting out punishment, warranted or otherwise? Or is saying "thank you" an immediate surcharge of swallowing one's pride in addition to the punitive charge being levied?
GENTLE READER: Are you telling Miss Manners that you do not feel grateful to the kind officer for rescuing you from potentially dangerous behavior?
If not, do you not see the advantage of two polite words that hint that you do? Miss Manners has never heard of a simple "thank you" being used in court as evidence of guilt.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Lately, whenever I eat in a restaurant, I find myself uncomfortable, as the waiters have begun asking something along the lines of "Does everything taste OK?" or "Does your food taste alright?"
I know it is a small difference from "Is everything alright?" - - which was mildly odd to me -- or the former "May I bring you anything?"
To be honest, I enjoyed eating out more when the waiter just quietly came around refilling water glasses and looking to see what might be required, while giving the opportunity for the customer to request anything that was not easily observed to be needed.
However, it seems those days are now gone and the "friend" who is "taking care of me" feels the need to inquire. However, asking me if "the food tastes OK?" seems to be a too detailed inquiry. Obviously, if the food tasted bad, I would discreetly bring it to the attention of the staff. At the same time, it seems to suggest that the kitchen, having tried to pass off spoiled food, has now sent the waiter around to find out if I noticed. At a recent dinner when I mentioned this, several people said that they thought it was polite and appropriate of the waiter to inquire in this way. Am I just being too fussy?
GENTLE READER: For not preferring your new friend the waiter to your older friends with whom you had hoped to converse?
Some day, Miss Manners is going to succeed in tracing the person who writes those waiter scripts that are suddenly adopted in every restaurant: "I'll be your waiter," "Are you still working on that?" "Enjoy" "Is everything all right?" and the mid-bite inquiry you report.
These are not utterances that sprang to their minds, and they are not as ingratiating as whoever mandated them seems to think. While it is important to have a waiter within reach -- or someone who can find your waiter -- it is annoying to have one interrupting your conversation, especially to prompt compliments. And while your mouth is full, at that.