DEAR MISS MANNERS: At a sporting event that was part of an acquaintance's birthday celebration, I met her husband for the first time. Later, while I was surveying with dismay the long lines for food, I noticed that he was halfway through one of the lines. I was ecstatic at my good fortune!
I asked if he would purchase food for me and gave him a $20 bill. He returned and presented me with a plain hot dog (bun and hot dog only), which I estimate would have left a reasonable amount of change even at ball park prices. He made no mention of the change, which I thought was a bit odd. I didn't press the matter, but was left with an uneasy feeling.
Was I out of line to request the favor of such a new acquaintance? I did not specify whether I expected change or offer to buy him an item as part of the transaction. Was it rude of me to request the favor without offering him the option to use the change toward his own purchase? Was it my responsibility to inquire about the change when he returned and presented me with my very plain hot dog?
GENTLE READER: Even an old acquaintance would have trouble juggling an additional order of food, let alone stopping to slather ketchup, mustard and relish on it.
You could have offered to pay for the rest, if for no other reason than that figuring out change from different sources was likely to stall an already harried exchange --and irritate the people behind him. It is also possible that he intended to give you change, but forgot.
Miss Manners suggests that you let it go, next time saying, "I hope that it did not cause you problems -- and please don't bother about the change." Thereby you get credit for the outcome, while also giving him a chance to remedy the situation if he so chooses.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I purchased our dream home after many years of hard work and sacrifices. Our 15-year-old new home is contemporary and modern in style, set on a scenic hill with a small lake across the way.
Many guests are happy and intrigued by its openness, exquisite style and location. But when family members visit and tour, we often hear: "This is not what I expected at all." What would you suggest as an appropriate response to this somewhat awkward statement?
GENTLE READER: "Thank you, we're so glad you like it."
Miss Manners notices that people who are incorrectly credited with being gracious never deny it.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: A friend of mine wants me to wait until the last minute on a Saturday morning (I work full time, 9 to 5, Monday through Friday) to see if she wants to do something with me or not. I think this is very rude.
I would never even think of asking a person to hold an entire Saturday until I decided what to do at the last minute! How can I help this person see that her demand is unreasonable?
GENTLE READER: "If you are not able to commit to plans, perhaps we can schedule a time when you know you will be free. What does next summer look like?"
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)