DEAR MISS MANNERS: When I attended a fundraising event, I purchased the type of raffle tickets that are dropped into the baskets of prizes one hopes to win. Due to my inattention, I dropped a ticket into a basket I was not interested in. Rather than try to retrieve my ticket, I left it.
As luck would have it, I won the prize, tickets to an event that I was not particularly eager to attend. I might have attended, but my mother became ill and I left town suddenly, during the time of the event.
A casual friend who had helped organize the raffle noticed I did not use the tickets. I explained about my mother's illness and subsequent death. My friend chastised me for not trying to find someone to use the tickets in my absence. She claims that the donor will be reluctant to make future donations since the prize went unclaimed.
I was dumbstruck. I numbly mumbled a response and walked away. What is the appropriate response in a situation such as this?
GENTLE READER: Which situation? Your inability to use an unwanted raffle prize? Or your friend who chastised you for not putting a fundraiser before your mother?
Even had your excuse for not using the tickets had been less compelling, Miss Manners does not equate raffle prizes with personal invitations: You are obliged to pay for the raffle ticket; you are not obliged to make the trip to Tahiti.
Your friend's lack of compassion toward you is matched by an equal lack of understanding of the donor's priorities. Instead of being discouraged, that person may be delighted to realize that he can donate without having to make good on his promise.