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Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Missing Watch Creates Dilemma

DEAR MISS MANNERS: A business associate bought me an expensive watch to celebrate completing a deal. I wear it whenever I see him, and he never fails to compliment it. But it’s not really my taste, so otherwise it sits in a box at home.

I recently moved homes, and the movers decided to relieve me of the watch, as I had not secured the box.

Next time I see the giver, what do I do? I could replace it, but it’s not where I would prefer to spend my own money. I could fib that it’s out for service. I could tell the truth, but that might sound like I’m asking for another watch.

With no travel currently happening, I have time to await your wise reply.

GENTLE READER: “I am devastated that the watch you gave me somehow got lost in our move. But I am determined to find it, and will not stop looking until I have.”

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am writing on behalf of a not-for-profit organization. We often have donations made in memory of someone, and we send their families a letter notifying them of the donation.

A young man in our community passed away, and his parents are no longer together. Should we send a donation notification letter to the young man’s mother, father, or one to each of them?

GENTLE READER: One to each. That way, they both have the opportunity to acknowledge the donation. Especially during this tragic time, Miss Manners feels strongly that it would be doing the parents a particular kindness not to give the impression that one parent was better liked than the other.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am planning an outdoor children’s party. Is it tacky to mention to the guests that the food is organic?

It’s not something that can be noticed through taste, and I think the parents will be glad to know that the fruits and veggies their toddlers will (hopefully) be eating are free from harmful pesticides.

Or does it sound like boasting? I think it’s different from saying “These shoes are limited-edition,” because guests will actually get to share the good stuff. Plus, organic food is a health consideration rather than a status symbol.

GENTLE READER: Is it? Some may disagree.

Miss Manners will not argue with you. But she will point out that telling everyone that the food you are serving is not harmful to them plants the idea that other people’s party food was -- which, even if true, is not polite. Best to wait until asked about, or complimented on, the food -- then you can say, “I am so glad you like it. We got it from this little organic place. I can give you the name of it if you’re interested.”

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the proper office microwave etiquette, normally? And how does COVID change this?

GENTLE READER: The basic rules are: Take turns, do not cook smelly food, and clean up after yourself. COVID recommendations would also mandate maintaining a safe distance in the break room -- so probably only one person in it at a time. Fortunately, Miss Manners finds that that distance also helps with the smelly food rule -- in the very likely event that it gets broken.

(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)