Q. I've had it! I came to work today and found dirty dishes left over from Friday's lunch on my desk.
I spoke to my secretary about it. Her response sounded like some crazy idea out of an ERA dictionary. I couldn't believe it! Here my employe was telling me, her boss, what her job responsibilities were. I had to laugh right in her face. Thank God, most women in Virginia still know their places.
Naturally, I pointed out the fact that I hired her and that I could just as easily replace her. She said I didn't have that right. Maybe if you would tell her that I do have the right to expect any employe to do what I tell them she will come to her senses, and I won't have to get rid of an otherwise excellent worker.
A. Miss Manners would hate to see such an otherwise happy working relationship marred by a trivial dispute. She feels obliged to point out to you, however, that while you may be able to get away with firing the secretary, you will certainly have great difficulty replacing her. A cleaning woman who is also able to take dictation, type, file, run an office and handle telephone calls and visitors is hard to find these days.
Q. I turn to you with a question raised the other day, when several colleagues and I were enjoying drinks at a nice local restaurant. The issue concerns gin-and-tonics. Actually, the limes in the gin-and-tonics.
Is it acceptable to squeeze the lime out into the drink in public? Since the lime is not fixed to the side of the glass, this matter would entail a bit of discreet fingerwork. Half of our party sanctioned the move, saying the lime was an integral part of the drink, and half the party condemned the offending action, saying that it was rude to fish around in drinks.
A. You wouldn't want to ask the waiter to bring you another lime, would you? No, Miss Manners supposed not. How about asking for a very small spear?
All right, let us face the question of the etiquette of fishing around in drinks with fingers. Like so many of the sensual pleasures of life, it is the degree that determines what may be condemned as obscene.
The cut-off point in this case is the first knuckle of the forefinger and thumb. If the lime is floating and can be fished out with the fingertips, Miss Manners will permit you to go after it. But if it has sunk, she will not allow you to retrieve it by inserting your arm up to the elbow.
Q. When out on a date, is it proper for the woman to unlock the man's car door after he has already seated her in the car? Should I stall by not allowing him to shut my door completely to give him time to go to his side of the car and unlock his door? Also, is it necessary for your date to help you out of the car after you have arrived at your destination?
A. Miss Manners has no objection to your unlocking the gentleman's car door, but it worries her to think how you might prevent him from shutting your door. Are you planning to leave a foot dangling out of it? Better to lose the race to get the door unlocked before he does so with his key than to lose a limb in this service. As for his helping you out, it is probably not necessary, unless you are attending a fancy dress ball wearing a mermaid costume, but it is nevertheless a graceful gesture.