Dear Miss Manners • I have new neighbors who seemed very nice. When the husband came over to borrow two eggs for a cake his wife was making, I had my robotic vacuum on the counter as I was cleaning it.
While I was getting the eggs, he picked up the vacuum and said, “Oh, I read about these! Are they ...” Just then his phone rang, and in reaching for it, he dropped my vacuum. A 4-foot drop. It exploded. He said immediately that he would pay to replace it.
It has been two weeks, and nothing. It cost $400 and my cat really misses it, as do I. It was a friend to me and my cat. How to approach the neighbor?
Gentle Reader • While the cat’s feelings seem similarly immaterial to the situation, Miss Manners thinks you might be on to something: It is much easier to make the request on behalf of someone else than oneself. For instance: “Harriet has been really desolate without her playmate. You were kind enough to say, when it broke, that you would replace it. Please let me know if you need help finding the correct make and model.”
Dear Miss Manners • I take offense when I give someone a gift or a tip and their response is, “Thanks, but that’s not necessary.”
Of course it’s not necessary. I stay quiet because I don’t want, in turn, to offend the person. However, it sometimes feels like a criticism.
Perhaps I’m too thin-skinned. I realize a person may feel uncomfortable when receiving something unexpected, but what about, “This is a surprise! Thank you”?
What are your thoughts?
Gentle Reader • That people receiving unexpected presents think that they are being gracious by acting demure. Miss Manners recommends that you indulge them, although you may certainly tell them that it was your intention to please them— dialing up the degree of hurt and confusion depending on how convincing they are.
If the recipient rebuffs a gratuity, however, you may have found yourself in the rare circumstance where it is genuinely not expected — or even allowed. In the first case, you should respect modesty, indulging it as pride and a strong work ethic, even if you choose to ultimately ignore such protests. In the second, you should take note. Pressing forward could actually get someone fired.
Dear Miss Manners • I sent a registry item to a soon-to-be bride. (They are only having a small celebration. I am not attending, as I am COVID-vulnerable.) The store confirmed delivery.
Is it inappropriate to call the mother of the bride to ensure that the bride received the gift? Porch pirates abound!
Gentle Reader • As do shiftless brides. But Miss Manners admires your presumption of good faith.
If a reasonable amount of time goes by and you have not received thanks — and you have other reasons to contact the mother, besides checking up on the bride — then yes, you may casually mention your fears. As long as you are prepared for the bevy of excuses that may follow.
Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, 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.