DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have new neighbors who seemed very nice. When the husband came over to borrow two eggs for a cake his wife was making, I had my robotic vacuum on the counter as I was cleaning it.
While I was getting the eggs, he picked up the vacuum and said, “Oh, I read about these! Are they ...” Just then his phone rang, and in reaching for it, he dropped my vacuum. A 4-foot drop. It exploded. He said immediately that he would pay to replace it.
It has been two weeks, and nothing. It cost $400 and my cat really misses it, as do I. It was a friend to me and my cat. How to approach the neighbor? They have a brand-new car.
GENTLE READER: Why does that matter? Were you planning on retaliating?
While the cat’s feelings seem similarly immaterial to the situation, Miss Manners thinks you might be on to something: It is much easier to make the request on behalf of someone else than oneself. For instance: “Harriet has been really desolate without her playmate. You were kind enough to say, when it broke, that you would replace it. Please let me know if you need help finding the correct make and model.”