DEAR MISS MANNERS: Invited to dinner, on the way out the door I was called back by a ringing telephone. The daughter of my host called to ask me to make a detour on my way to pick up special cream cheese for an hors d'oeuvre she was preparing.
I did as asked and delivered the cheese. When she didn't offer to reimburse me for the purchase, I later presented her with the bill via email. This modern Millie then took me to task, reminding me that I was receiving value in the meal I partook.
Was I wrong to expect reimbursement for the cheese? And what do you make of this young woman's stance regarding what is to be expected of a guest?
GENTLE READER: Everyone is so out of line here, Miss Manners does not know where to start.
That the daughter of the host asked you to run an errand for her was cheeky (unless your relationship is like that of family, which Miss Manners is inferring it is not), and that she did not reimburse you is thoughtless.
But presenting her with a bill is not the answer. You could have said (sweetly) at the time, "It was lucky that I was still home when you called. The cream cheese cost $( ). If you're busy now, I can get that from you later." Or you could have let it go and resolved to be unavailable for future errand-running.
But that this unpleasantness escalated into an argument over the relative value of a dinner party and the host-to-guest monetary ratio is beyond all tenets of polite society -- and the very antitheses of graciousness. On that, Miss Manners regrets to inform you that if you are in it for the money, you will find yourself with a social life of diminishing returns.