DEAR MISS MANNERS - Please tell me how to handle calls from people who will not identify themselves, thinking it fun to play guessing games on the phone ("Hello, Sally, know who this is?" "What, you don't recognize my voice?" etc.).
I've tried putting these callers on hold for several minutes, thinking they'll cool their heels and be willing to continue the conversation as adults. This is an unsatisfactory solution to an extremely irritating situation.Working in a busy office on a university campus, I talk to dozens of people each day and can't be expected to recognize each voice, besides not having the time to play this game. Please tell me what to say to these rude people.
GENTLE READER - "I'm so sorry, but I don't seem to know your name, either. Please call back when you remember."
DEAR MISS MANNERS - The wording of a wedding invitation my husband and I received made it somewhat awkward, I felt, to respond formally. Nevertheless, I wrote ". . . unable to accept the very kind invitation of April May Luscious and Gottlieb Telemachus Right and their parents. . ." etc.
I hope I have not been incorrect. I did consider saying "your very kind invitation" but rejected it quickly.
While I realize the young people are announcing their independence, I don't feel the wedding invitation is the place to do this. Perhaps you would like to take this opportunity to stress that the parents (or parent, guardian, uncle, aunt) of the bride issue invitations to the wedding. But this does not necessarily mean that they are paying for everything; nor does it necessarily mean that the bride is still completely dependent on the parents.
GENTLE READER - Please allow Miss Manners the comfort of believing that these people just don't know the proper wording for a formal wedding invitation. (A bridal couple may properly give their own wedding, but if parents are involved, they should be given the dignity of being hosts.) The thought that they are demoting the parents from their proper position for non-payment of bills is too much for her.
You, at any rate, have acted properly under trying conditions, and Miss Manners congratulates you.
DEAR MISS MANNERS - I have noticed that most of my cousins, adults with families of their own, are greeting my mother by calling her Rose, whereas formerly she was Aunt Rose to them all. I continue to call my aunts and uncles the way I always have, though I wonder if this is rather juvenile on my part. It is a comfort to have them in this relation to me.
Does one ask permission to drop part of the address? Or do you view the practice as inappropriate, trendy or what?
GENTLE READER - Do you know what you are doing when you use the word "trendy" to Miss Manners in connection with the sacred subject of etiquette?
However, as she was unsheathing her sword to slice any such idea thinner than cucumbers for teatime, she paused and took another look at your question. What we are talking about here is not some sort of new cheekiness, but the question of whether family forms of address, like those of children to adults, can change when the children grow up.
The answer is that they can if the elder people wish, or at least do not object, but they need not. Although Miss Manners agrees with you that there is charm and comfort in continuing to use the titles, she sees nothing wrong with your grown-up cousins discontinuing the usage, provided your mother does not mind.
DEAR MISS MANNERS - My husband and I had a wonderful vacation in New Orleans last summer. We stayed at a beautiful, elegant old hotel where every amenity was provided. Since there was no parking available, a valet delivered and parked our car, doormen opened the front doors for us at any hour of the day or night, an elevator operator took us to our room, our shoes were polished each night we left them outside our door, the concierge made dinner reservations and play reservations, and advised us on shopping, streetcar operation, etc., and many services were graciously provided.
We did not know the proper way to tip all these lovely people. We plan another trip there next summer, and I would be ever so grateful if you would advise me whether to tip for each individual service, or tip the concierge with a letter of thanks at the end of our stay.
GENTLE READER - Have you considered taking Miss Manners along with you next time, so that she can deal with the tipping situation on the spot?
Forgive her. She's just had so many letters complaining about surly hotel service, or lack of service, that your raptures got her a bit over-excited.
When you vacation at a hotel, you can tip by the week or, if it's not that much longer, the whole stay, the way you would at a resort or on a ship.
You can tip each person individually, if you keep an eye out for rotating shifts, so that the last person on duty in a particular job doesn't get the whole tip. A simpler way to do it is to give the manager a lump sum with a note asking him to use it to express your thanks to the parking valets, doormen, elevators, shoe shiners, concierge, and anyone else who may have helped you. Listing them, rather than saying "everyone," means that you will be leaving them with a double treat of praise to the boss, as well as money.
C) 1989 United Feature Syndicate Inc.