By Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a business reporter for a local newspaper. I was informed that one of our local larger businesses was having a staff meeting to discuss major changes, so I attended.
It took place in a large auditorium, and there were about 500 people in attendance. I quietly sat in the back row and took notes. After 20 minutes into the meeting, I had enough material, so I got up to leave.
The president of the company, who was speaking at the time, apparently mistook me for one of his employees because he shouted at me, in an angry tone of voice, “Hey you! Sit down! We’re not done yet!” I ignored him and just kept walking.
Granted, I had not been invited to the meeting, though the company made no effort to keep outsiders out, either. But ignoring that aspect of it, what would have been the appropriate response on my part? Should I have ignored him as I did, or should I have said something? And if so, what?
GENTLE READER: No doubt the most satisfying solution would have been to say, “Thank you. I’m actually a local reporter, and I have everything that I need,” before running for the door. It would certainly have given the company president pause.
But that only works if you are yourself innocent of any wrongdoing. A reputable reporter is expected to identify as such to the people he or she is covering – unless the information to be obtained is accessible to the general public. When throwing a dinner party, Miss Manners may forget to lock the door each time a guest arrives. But that is not an open invitation to the neighbors.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: If we are hosting a birthday party at our home for a niece or nephew, is there a polite way to suggest the parent bring a certain cake size?
Oftentimes, we are left with a huge cake to fit into our fridge, which we actually don’t want once the party is over. I feel guilty for throwing it out. I get that it’s a hassle to bring home, or that they don’t want the temptation to eat it, but that’s got nothing to do with me.
I feel bad telling a parent what kind of cake to get their kid, but I have limited space in my fridge and no one in my house wants cake. Can I ask them to downsize the cake so more of it gets eaten by the guests? Or, if they must get a big one, to take the leftovers home with them?
GENTLE READER: You may not, but you may rebox what’s left at the end of the party and hand it out at the door.
Protests that they have no place to put it should be met with a knowing, “I completely understand. It’s just that if it stays here, it’s going to get thrown out, and perhaps Liam will want another piece.” Miss Manners realizes that doing this in front of Liam will be more effective, but discourages that on the grounds of humanity.
Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website missmanners.com.