Miss Manners: Send praise of workers to their higher-ups

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dear Miss Manners:

I am a student veteran, and I had been dealing with a particular government agency for several months, to no avail, in receiving certain education benefits that were owed to me. It was a frustrating time, and, as a last resort to try to recoup the thousands of dollars my husband and I had spent on my tuition, I contacted my senator's office.

They were fantastically helpful, were able to solve my problem in an afternoon, and soon thereafter I received my benefits. I am really grateful for their assistance, particularly that of one of the staffers. I would love to show my appreciation by sending them a thank-you note. Is this appropriate? If so, how and to whom should it be addressed?

To the senator, assuring him of your gratitude and loyalty.

Yes, Miss Manners realizes that he didn't do a thing, and hasn't even heard of your case. You kindly want to praise the generally unsung people on his staff who did.

That is what you do in your second sentence to the senator, mentioning by name the excellence of members of his staff. This will do them more good than addressing them directly, and they are in a position to make sure this gets to his desk.

Dear Miss Manners:

My partner of 18 years and I traveled to Des Moines, Iowa, where we were married. I am overjoyed that our relationship is recognized legally, even if it is not in our home state.

When we crossed the Mississippi River on the way home from our wedding, we were once again single, at least in the eyes of the law.

I have always introduced Rick as my "partner" but would now like to use the term "husband," just like the rest of the legally married world.

Is it appropriate for me to say "husband," even when we are standing in a spot where that is not true? Is it a term I should use only in places where our marriage is recognized? Am I wrong in wanting somehow to indicate that the legal status of our relationship has changed?

Please calm down -- wedding jitters should be over by now.

If you are going to consider yourselves married or unmarried every time you cross a border, you are going to drive yourselves -- and everyone you meet -- crazy. You got married, and are each other's husbands. Miss Manners congratulates you.

Feeling incorrect? E-mail your etiquette questions to Miss Manners (who is distraught that she cannot reply personally) at MissManners@unitedmedia.com; mail to United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016; or enter them on her new Web site, http://www.MissManners.com.

2010 Judith Martin

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