DEAR MISS MANNERS: After waiting 30 minutes to be seated in a crowded restaurant, my friend asked the very busy waitress if she could sample wines before she ordered a glass.
Was this OK under the circumstances? Is it ever OK? I was so uncomfortable that I mentioned it to her. She got irate, I left, and it ended our friendship.
GENTLE READER: Was it worth it?
Asking to sample wines at a restaurant is not in itself rude. At some establishments, it is actually encouraged. Abusing the privilege, however, is irksome — and can be exploitative, if the samples become the equivalent of a full glass.
But unless this was the latter — or only the last in a series of inconsiderate behaviors from your friend, and you have simply had enough — Miss Manners suggests you try to make amends. And avoid crowded restaurants.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: A friend I rarely see, other than on social media, posted a confusing message. As she seemed to be in great distress, I clicked on the “care” button and figured I’d find out in time what was going on.
The confusing messages continued for a week. Since she seemed to be so distraught, I thought it was more polite to simply continue to click on the “care” button for these posts rather than ask her to explain what had happened.
Turns out, her husband had died suddenly.
Do I send her a letter of condolence on her loss, with perhaps an offer to meet her for coffee at some time in the future? Or, in my confusion, have I exceeded the statute of limitations for expressing condolences? I don’t want to make her life worse right now.
GENTLE READER: Because you think you pushed the “care” button too many times? Whether this is literally the case or not, metaphorically it is not possible.
Miss Manners assures you that a written condolence letter will not make this person’s life worse. Well, she supposes that depends on what you write. But expressing sadness for this person’s loss is all you need to say — excuses, apologies or emotional cartoon faces (no matter how heartfelt) need not be conveyed.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Whenever I ask someone a question over text or through a messaging app, it feels weird to me to just ask the question. Instead, I always start off with “Hi (Name),” even if I just talked to them recently.
I feel like the urge to add some kind of introduction comes from writing longer emails.
Is it rude to just ask a question over text without some kind of preface? Or is that OK when people are expecting a shorter message?
GENTLE READER: Text messaging is, at its core, informal. But Miss Manners shares your affinity for prefacing the subject with “Quick question” or a short greeting.
That said, she detests the arresting “Hey!” — finding it even more jarring than no greeting at all.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: A friend brings his paper cup of coffee into a good restaurant. I don’t think this is good manners. What do you think?
GENTLE READER: That your friend’s estimation of the restaurant is not as favorable as yours.
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.