DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have been the executive assistant of a prominent person for the past 10 years. I take care of matters both within the executive’s company and in his personal/family life, as is common at this level of my profession.
My question involves an error made by the executive’s wife. She had personal stationery printed for the use of the family many years ago. Unfortunately, the address on the stationery reads, “The Johnson’s” (name changed).
I cringe every time I see the misplaced apostrophe, and for 10 years I’ve been biting my tongue, not wanting to insult my boss’s wife. We have a friendly, warm relationship developed over a decade, and she has given me many compliments about my knowledge of grammar.
Have I waited too long, or should I speak up so she has a chance to reprint the stationery correctly? I don’t want her to be embarrassed when she sends correspondence to people who might notice the error, or have her mistake reflect poorly on my boss, or anyone in the family.
Should I send her a gift of reprinted stationery and not mention the error?
GENTLE READER: You are The Person Who Gets Things Done in this relationship, so Miss Manners advises you to take advantage of it.
Volunteer to arrange for the next printing of the stationery -- surely, after 10 years, it is time. Before you put in the order, send the wife a note explaining that you just realized that the apostrophe is in the wrong place and confirm that you, fortunately, caught it before it went to the printers. The implication that you initially missed the mistake will remove the sting. And you won’t have to pay for the printing.