DEAR MISS MANNERS: I wrote a thank-you note to a co-worker over a year and a half ago, and just this week it came back with a sticky note attached that said, “I am returning this card to you with the spirit in which it was given.”
What does this mean? Is it a true thank-you, or a slap in the face? I am confused; I have never gotten a thank-you note back, and she held on to it for almost two years.
GENTLE READER: Nothing good can come from sentiments exchanged on sticky notes. Evidently, this person thought that your thank-you note was somehow sarcastic and has decided to take it as an insult.
Miss Manners suggests that you ignore it. If you still work with the writer and your curiosity gets the better of you, you may ask if you inadvertently offended her. But if the answer is yes, please resist the urge to write, “I’m sorry” on yet another sticky note.
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DEAR MISS MANNERS: I will be moving far away soon, and I would like a way to show my friends how much I will miss them and how greatly I have appreciated having them in my life.
Would it be in poor taste for me to throw a going-away party for myself? Would there be a more appropriate way of naming such an event, since my goal is to celebrate the guests, even though I am the one leaving? I feel like it would be rude to hint to others that I want a party, but it does not seem quite polite to simply throw one myself.
GENTLE READER: One doesn’t have to name the occasion in order to host a party. That you wish to see your friends before you leave is reason enough.
Unfortunately, Miss Manners has found that in the current climate, making a party into an “event” makes people suspect that presents are somehow required. Simply invite your friends to a party, and if asked about the occasion, say, “I wanted to see everyone one more time before I moved.”
DEAR MISS MANNERS: For a few months, I received voice lessons from a lovely and talented tutor. However, I had to quit taking lessons because of scheduling conflicts.
Now, a year and a half later, I’m having some pangs of remorse. I really admired my tutor, but I never gave a reason for my failure to return.
I’m wondering, is it too late for me to write her a note, thanking her for what she taught me and explaining why I couldn’t come back? Or do you think that after so long, it is inconsequential?
GENTLE READER: It would be lovely to send a note apologizing for discontinuing the lessons, especially if the transaction was abrupt. Briefly explain that your schedule prevented you from continuing.
Miss Manners notes that this was a business transaction, so social etiquette is not strictly required. But it is certainly never remiss to be thankful and polite, especially if you want to regain this person’s trust in scheduling with you in the future.
Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
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