DEAR MISS MANNERS: At a casual dining restaurant (a national chain), the waitress bringing several drinks to our table -- without a tray, for some reason -- had carried my glass of beer under her arm.
Yes, under her arm.
I am still at a loss about what to have done. I didn’t want to embarrass the waitress, but I would have liked to have sent the drink back. And what do you say? “Excuse me, but my drink was under your arm”?
But as the bar was out of sight, I was unsure what she or anyone else would have done to my new drink. Any advice? Since this was a national chain, and training in this area is minimal and not standardized in the U.S., I can unfortunately imagine it happening again.
GENTLE READER: As the captain who gratefully received a steaming hot mug of coffee from his ensign on a ship pitching in heavy weather can attest, there is a leap of faith in accepting food from the hands of others. (Said captain eventually learned that the delivering ensign took a mouthful of the coffee while in transit, which he returned to the mug before entering the bridge.)
Miss Manners does not condone the unsanitary handling of food, but she is not the health department. And she is practical enough to realize both that there can be differences in what people consider sanitary, and that, were you to return the beer, citing your reason, the server would have boundless opportunity to do something far worse out of sight.
Ask for a manager and express your concern. It may or may not affect your next visit -- should you choose to return to that restaurant -- but it will at least shield you from retaliation. Miss Manners leaves the decision to drink or not to drink the beer as an exercise for the reader.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Due to my own carelessness in not writing an entry on my calendar for a housewarming/birthday party, I forgot about it. The invitation from our friends was through social media, to which I had responded that I would attend.
My most important concern is what to say to apologize without sounding like the party was of such little importance that I could have forgotten it. A secondary concern is the medium to use to apologize: private message through a social media channel, or handwritten note sent via mail.
I think that I know your answer (note via mail), but is it ever acceptable to express apologies (or thanks) electronically?
GENTLE READER: Taking the time to write and post a letter, in addition to being the proper thing, will increase your chances of obtaining forgiveness. Miss Manners allows electronic correspondence for actions requiring the most minimal thanks. But as minimal apologies are not likely to sound genuine, she is hard-pressed to think of a case in which they would be either proper or effective.
The letter should demonstrate your remorse by showing your would-be hosts that you condemn yourself more than they ever could. Expressing horror at your own thoughtlessness and the deepest contrition should do it.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)