Dear Miss Manners:
I enjoy the taste of chocolate, but no, I am not a chocoholic. I can take it or leave it. But lately, the fancy restaurants have taken to dribbling lacy lines of chocolate syrup back and forth over dessert cake. About three-quarters of the chocolate ends on the dessert plate, missing the cake entirely.
I have tried spooning up the dribblings, but dashing the spoon against the plate creates unpleasant clicking noises. Must this tasty chocolate go to waste instead of waist?
Dribblings? Is that what you call the artistry of the kitchen? Miss Manners supposes that you refer to the work of Jackson Pollock as "dribblings."
And you call yourself an art critic!
Actually, you don't call yourself an art critic. You are just trying to enjoy your dessert without disturbing others by making unpleasant noises. Miss Manners is in total sympathy with you. She is also fonder of chocolate than of dribblings.
Furthermore, she is not opposed to eating what is edible, short of devouring the flowers in the centerpiece. Garnishes made of food are fair game.
Still, she does appreciate the difficulty of scraping up those dribblings noiselessly. Let us hope the fad passes. If not, she will see about designing you a formal spatula for the dinner table.
Dear Miss Manners:
When I called my credit union, due to a question I had regarding my IRA, I left a message on the answering machine of the appropriate employee, giving my name, telephone number and reason for calling.
The person I called was in the office that day, but away from her desk. A week later, I called again, because that person did not return my call. My second call, too, was ignored. On that occasion, another employee also told me the person I was trying to reach was temporarily away from her desk. So one week later I called for the third time and spoke to the person I had called twice before.
Should I have reminded her that I called twice previously, and also asked her why she did not return either of my two previous calls, or should I have said nothing about the two previous calls (which is in fact what I did)?
When Miss Manners hears of someone's being "away from her desk," she pictures that person dashing back to the ringing telephone, and feels as if she should say, "Oh, do be careful, don't trip, I can wait a minute."
But not two weeks.
It is not rude to complain about rude service, provided you refrain from doing it rudely. In addition to being polite, however, you probably want to be effective.
People who ignore your calls are not likely to be attentive to your complaints. You could certainly have said, "I've left two messages for you already," provided you promised Miss Manners not to go bonkers if the response was silence, or a blunt "I wasn't here," or a bald "Okay."
The way to command the attention of someone like that is to keep going up the chain of command until you find someone who is, or pretends to be, shocked at the bad service. Those who ignore the reprimands of their superiors are not likely to remain long enough to be a nuisance to their customers.
Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of this newspaper.