Q. My wife and I are apartment renters, and occasionally hear the couple below us having domestic quarrels, which involve breaking objects and exchanging death threats. They invariably happen late at night.
While getting involved in these situations would probably only make matters worse, we feel compelled to do something, as they are a possible threat to others. What is the appropriate way to deal with this?
A. There are only two threats here that Miss Manners can imagine, presuming that you feel, as this couple apparently does, that their lamps and china are expendable. One is to the lives of the participants, and the other is to the peace of mind of the neighbors.
You are right not to wish to become involved in the cause and execution, so to speak, of their disagreements, but if you find either of these threats looming, you must, indeed, act.
If it is the noise that you cannot bear, telephone these people and say, "Please turn down your television set. We can hear every word being said in that movie, or whatever it is that you have on."
If, however, you believe that there is a possibility of one of them killing the other--Miss Manners tends to doubt that, but she is not on the scene, or rather over it, as you are--you must take stronger action. Pound madly on their door, and confront them with a mad cry of "Are you all right? I can hear terrorists in there, threatening to kill you!"
The risk you run is that they will attempt to correct your mistaken impression, and replace it with an account of their quarrels. You must on no account allow them to do this.
After a while, they will either learn to quarrel more quietly, in order to avoid such embarrassing and tedious interruptions as you are providing, or they will unite in an aversion to you, in which case the problem also will be solved.
Q. My husband and I own a small business. Our supplier is a very large corporation, represented by a salesman and district representative. On occasion, we are taken out to dinner and cocktails at very nice restaurants by the representative and his wife. I know that the corporation is picking up the tab.
My dilemma is: Who should I send a thank-you letter to? Should it be from business to corporation, business to representative, or a personal note to corporation or representative?
A. Miss Manners is hereby removing the word "personal" from daily usage. When it isn't being used redundantly (as in "personal friend,") it is used to confuse people in what are essentially impersonal, although perhaps pleasant, situations.
This is one of the latter. Indeed, the corporation pays the bill, because the corporation is engaging in a gesture toward the business you own.
All notes are personal, in that they are written by persons. You should write one thanking the representative of the corporation, as you cannot thank an entire corporation.