DEAR MISS MANNERS: There were two people in line in front of me in the grocery store, an adolescent boy and a man I assume was his father. They were pooling change to buy a can of soup. One can of soup.
I desperately wanted to give them some money to help them out, but I didn’t want to embarrass or offend them. How could I have helped without making a spectacle of any of us?
GENTLE READER: By catching the cashier’s attention and saying, “Why don’t you include that with mine?” And then, with an apologetic and warm look directed at the father and son, continuing with, “I’m in a bit of a hurry.”
If you are able to carry off just the right look, Miss Manners’ hope is that it will imply that they are doing you a favor -- and perhaps counter any embarrassment because you have done one for them.