DEAR MISS MANNERS: I'm a volunteer writer for a publication with a subscription list of 10,000, and I write profiles of leading citizens who serve as role models for others in their attempt to make a difference in their local communities.
For the last six years, I've made ordinary people look like the "gods and goddesses" that many already think they are, and the pieces have featured their portraits in color, pictures of their families and events that they host.
However, I'm stunned that, to this day, I've never received a note or call thanking me for my positive portrayal of their lives following publication.
If someone favorably profiled me in a magazine, I would at least call or send them a bouquet of flowers in appreciation for the time it took to write and edit the piece, complete the layout with photos for the printer, and help with distribution. I once knew a Congressman who kept his House seat for three decades simply by writing notes and thank-you's to his constituents on a regular basis.
Perhaps there's a lesson here to learn. Civility is dying: "Please" and "thank-you" are no longer common vocabulary words, and even those who are so-called leaders in their communities fall short of common courtesy. Am I expecting too much of others?
GENTLE READER: Yes, if you expect them to thank you for portraying them favorably. They think you captured them accurately, with a few exceptions that anger them, and that they did you a favor, allowing you to glimpse life on Mt. Olympus.
Miss Manners does not disagree about the appalling decline in such courtesies as writing letters of thanks. But in what Miss Manners was pleased to call real journalism -- back when the idea, at least, was to portray people objectively -- letters of thanks were not expected.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a friend who has two daughters. Every time she has a birthday, she sends the guests a list of presents that she wants for her daughters.
She then proceeds to tell the guests that if they buy something not on the list to provide the gift receipt so she can return it just in case she doesn't like what they gave.
Should I say something to her about her rude behavior or just delete the e-mail? I am really annoyed, and several other people are too. She just seems so ungrateful and controlling about the gifts her daughters can or can't play with.
GENTLE READER: Parents are allowed to be controlling in connection with their children's play, for as long as they can get away with it, which is not very long.
The problem here is that your friend is trying to control grown-ups. Generous grown-ups, at that, who are only trying to please her daughters.
But you would be doing that, too, if you chastised her.
Just delete the emails, as you probably do with other solicitations. But if you want to maintain a relationship with the daughters, Miss Manners recommends celebrating their birthdays by taking them out for treats -- without their mother, if she will allow it.