DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the appropriate way to ask someone a second time to do something for you, if they seem to have forgotten?
For example, if I have already asked a waiter for a drink, but she comes and goes a few times without bringing it, how should I ask again? Should I refer delicately to the earlier conversation, as in, “Could I please have that water when you have a moment?” thereby giving her credit for remembering the earlier interaction? Or should I speak as if I am asking for the first time, to avoid drawing attention to the oversight?
My husband finds one of these choices to be conspicuously impolite, while I think they each could be appropriate in certain situations. Does the best approach vary if the exchange is between family members, i.e., between a child and an adult rather than a waiter and a patron?
GENTLE READER: Etiquette assumes good intentions until she has been proven wrong. And even then, she refrains from throwing things.
The second time you ask for water, do not make reference to the initial request. The third time, Miss Manners allows a certain pique to enter your tone as you patiently explain that you have now asked several times without result.