DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have opened my own pet-sitting business, and my first meeting with potential clients is nearly always inside their homes. These homes are often professionally cleaned and opulently decorated, but I'm frequently invited inside with a "So sorry about the mess."
There never is the slightest mess, and since it seems bad business to reply with a bluff, "Oh, you should see my place" to a person I'm hoping will trust me in their home with their beloved pets, I'm at a loss for an appropriate and gracious response. What is the most polite response to this "apology"?
GENTLE READER: Transparent as such apologies are, they have become commonplace, and you are, as you rightly recognize, in no position to argue.
Miss Manners presumes that when asked how you are by prospective employers, you neglect to mention the cold you are suffering from, the dog that threw up on your shoes, and the flat tire that you will have to deal with after the interview. She advises you to adopt a similar level of forthrightness in this case, protesting that the house is a marvel.