DEAR MISS MANNERS: Our weekly garbage collectors frequently allow stray pieces of trash to blow out of the can or recycling bin as it is being emptied into the truck. On windy days, there are pieces of trash blowing around our neighborhood, through the streets and into people’s yards.
In some cases, I can clearly identify some pieces as mine, as they are brightly colored wrappers from ethnic foods I purchase online which are not available locally.
I clean whatever garbage I find in the street, but what is the protocol when I see what is clearly my trash in a neighbor’s yard near their home? I feel odd going into their yard and approaching their house, sometimes going into their bushes to pick up a wrapper I can see poking out, but I also feel odd leaving my trash there. I put my trash in the can at the curb, so what is my role in cleaning it up from a neighbor’s yard?
GENTLE READER: Technically, the garbage became the collector’s responsibility once pickup occurred, but Miss Manners sees your problem.
It is both charming and neighborly of you to skip down the block chasing your colorful wrappers, but you are right to fear that incidental trespassing may be misunderstood: Police have a legal right to cross jurisdictional lines in pursuit of a suspect; trash collectors, official or otherwise, do not.
The solution is to raise the issue with the garbage collectors’ bosses. Ideally, you can do this in a neighborhood group or town hall where you will, simultaneously, be publicly declaring your concern for your neighbors’ clean lawns. After that, when the next big wind occurs, shut the blinds.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My boss and I eat lunch regularly at a nearby restaurant. We are there often enough that we know the staff pretty well.
One time, my boss said she’d made reservations there for a holiday lunch, in part so we could tip our favorite staff. The following day, she asked if I could cover the lunch, and I agreed.
Then on the way she asked if I could cover the holiday tips (in cash). I had no cash on me, so I declined. Then at lunch, the staff gifted us a bottle of wine and an appetizer.
When it came time to pay the bill, I did so and then my boss took the receipt from me to review. I was stunned. It appeared she was verifying that I was tipping appropriately. I’m not sure how I should have responded, as I’ve never had anything like that happen before. It’s likely something similar might occur in the future and I would like to be prepared.
GENTLE READER: A more generous (and more practical) assumption about your boss’s behavior would have been that she was checking to see how much she owed you.
A quick response of, “Oh, we can settle up tomorrow,” would have made for an easier follow-up.
As you missed that opportunity, Miss Manners recognizes that only two choices remain, and they are not mutually exclusive: asking for repayment -- which may be awkward -- and not scheduling lunches with your boss unless they are paid for by the company.
(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.)