DEAR MISS MANNERS: Very often, when making a purchase with our credit card, we are asked by the sales associate to show a picture ID. This is something we find highly offensive, as it is basically a request to prove that we are not attempting to use a stolen card.
When we complain to the clerk (or the manager, who usually gets involved) that the request is offensive, we are invariably told that it is for our own protection. Most of the time, they just don't seem to understand how it is offensive. Is there anything that can be said to let them know that I really don't like being treated like a criminal when I'm trying to enhance their profit margin? I feel like I'm being rude to the clerks when I complain. I know it's not usually their fault (company policy), but that doesn't lessen the affront.
GENTLE READER: Here is how to lessen your feeling of offense:
Leave your credit card lying around some place where there are likely to be disreputable strangers. Then examine your next credit card bill. After that, Miss Manners suggests that you might want to make a sheepish apology to that insulting company.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My good friend, who lived in my hometown with me since I have known him, has now moved away and invited me to come visit him. I told him I would try. He then mentioned that he will have an extra bed for guests.
I politely declined and said, "No that's OK, I will just stay at a hotel."
He seemed offended that I even mentioned not staying with him and replied that he has plenty of room and I should not waste my money at a hotel. I was not sure that I would be able to visit him, so I quickly changed the subject.
Now that I will be able to visit him, I am going to call him to find a weekend that suits both our schedules. I would rather just stay at a hotel, but I know he will be offended if I mention this. He lives on the other side of the country, so a day trip is not possible.
GENTLE READER: Does he know what a difficult houseguest you are?
Now, Miss Manners is sure that you are considerate, neat and a joy to have around the house. But you wouldn't want to suggest that there is anything lacking in the hospitality that your old friend is generously offering. So you must take it on yourself.
After you thank him profusely and make it clear that you are only too eager to spend as much time with him as possible, you should add, "I'm afraid I would disturb you. I tend to get restless at night and I'm much better off in a hotel, where I can turn on the television or go sit in the lobby. Trust me, I'd love to stay with you otherwise, but I really don't think it's a good idea."
Lest your conscience actually keep you up for saying this, Miss Manners asks you to remind yourself that you have had restless nights, if only in infancy, and you have only said that you could turn on the television set or sit in the lobby, not that you are in the habit of doing so.