Miss Manners: Red roses for a blue lady

February 7, 2013

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have been through a divorce and will be spending my first Valentine’s Day alone in quite some time. I have been thinking about ordering myself a few roses and having them sent to my work.

I was wondering if that would be crass of me, or is it okay? Could you please shed some light on the subject?

GENTLE READER: Perhaps you should shed some light on your motive. If it cheers you to have roses, by all means, buy yourself some. But the ploy of having them sent to the office, rather than just taking some there or to your home, makes Miss Manners suspect that your idea is to make your colleagues believe you have a new beau.

If that is the case, please don’t. It is too pathetic, and will only invite questions that will oblige you to spin tales. In the end, that will make you feel worse.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the proper way to address a former governor who resigned from office? It seems disrespectful to all the governors who maintained their commitment to their solemn oath and disrespectful to the office to address a person who resigned a state’s top office as Governor Smith or Jones.

GENTLE READER: Such is the protocol, however. Miss Manners is afraid that it is rude to refer to such a person by his incarceration number.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I work for a popular doctor with a huge following at a large optical practice. Our prices are listed in a very nice frame on the wall as you enter the office. We do participate in various discounts such as AARP, AAA and insurance discounts, and those are also listed on the sign.

My issue is that when I ask for payment, some patients argue with me about the price. I guess the squeaky wheel gets the grease? In front of others in the lobby, they boom.

I work alone and need to keep the peace, collect the fees, take the patients back for pretesting and then to the doctor for the exam. Time is not my friend, as I have much to do in a little amount of time. I have to keep it moving or there’s a train wreck.

What polite, short and to-the-point thing can I say with a smile on my face and in my voice to keep the mood upbeat in an all’s-well environment?

GENTLE READER: “I’m sorry, but I’m authorized to collect the fees only as stated, so I’ll have to do that now. But you could write a letter, stating your reasons for asking for a discount, and I’ll pass it on to the doctor’s lawyer to see if an adjustment should be made.”

This is a bit long, but if it is said clearly, those in line behind will pressure the protester to give up. And in Miss Manners’s experience, those who argue the longest are the least willing to write letters.

Visit Miss Manners at her Web site, www.missmanners.com, where you can send her your questions.

, by Judith Martin

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