Open Thread

by epi on May 24, 2012

Welcome to the Etiquette Daily

This open thread is your space to use as you like. We invite you to discuss current and traditional etiquette. Feel free to ask questions of each other and the community moderators here.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Alicia C. May 24, 2012 at 10:43 am

I live in the US and have RSVPed to attend a far far away wedding in Asia. The bride and I have been friends since we were teens. We attended high school and college together. I had every intention of paying for all of my travel and lodging costs for the few days I would be at this destination wedding. A few weeks ago I emailed the bride to pick her brain about my travel planning, since I’m thinking of spending a few days at other islands in the region on my way back to the US, and she has traveled to a lot of the places I’m considering visiting for the first time. In fact, she is going to be speding her honeymoon at one of the islands I’m considering visiting. At the end of her response email, she wrote ” Let me know if you need any help with the plane tickets! The prices vary a lot!”. I never asked for any financial help in my email, and was a bit surprised by her offer of financial help. I admit the wedding is a big cost to me, and I’ve been scrimping and saving to attend it, because I wouldn’t want to miss it for the world, and can’t think of any other time I’d have a reason to go out to this part of the world. Some financial help would be awesome, but I don’t know exactly how to respond, since it is her wedding and I’m sure they are already spending gobs of money. She is from an affluent background and I’m fairly certain that she / her family could afford it though. A part of me wants to say yes, and a part of me thinks I should say no. Can you all please help me? Thanks.

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Alicia May 24, 2012 at 10:57 am

I would not take this as an offer to pay so much as an offer to help you find a low ticket price until and unless she says something more specific. She could just be offering to help you find a deal which seems much more likely.

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Jody May 24, 2012 at 11:48 am

I agree with Alicia, I’d read this as an offer to find a lower price or better schedule, not to help you with payment for the ticket. You could always respond on the lines of “thanks for the offer, I’ve found a good fare at [name website or airline] but if you have any other hints I’d like to hear them.” Then if she responds explicitly saying that she’d like to help you pay for the airfare you can accept or not.

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Alicia C. May 24, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Thanks so much for your responses. I interpreted it in a completely different way. Oops. Jody, I think I will use your wording when I respond to her email, and hopefully that will clarify things. I’m happy I came here before responding and potentially making a huge interpretation mistake.

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Liz May 24, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Q: My teenage daughter recently received an invitation to a high school graduation party. The bottom of the invitation reads “MONETARY GIFTS APPRECIATED”. Am I too old fashioned by modern views on social etiquette, or am I right on the money to say that this is incredibly tasteless and low-brow?

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Alicia May 24, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Gifts should never be mentioned on an invite it is tacky and crass to do so.
You are right. Now as to what your daughter should do is to ignore the mention give nothing or a gift of her choice as she would have done otherwise.

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Winfred Rosenburg May 24, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Alicia is right. There is one more option in addition to the ones she mentioned: don’t go. (That’s is what I would do!)

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Liz May 24, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Thank you. The graduating party girl is a nice girl and a good friend of my daughter’s, therefore, my daughter would never punish her friend by not attending. I just wanted to know if this act was considered appropriate by today’s standards of etiquette. Thank you again.

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Chocobo May 24, 2012 at 10:09 pm

“I just wanted to know if this act was considered appropriate by today’s standards of etiquette.”

Heavens, no! Any mention of gifts on any invitation continues to be inappropriate, including registry information and the well-meaning but still wrong “no gifts please.”

I agree with Alicia, your daughter should purchase whatever she had already planned on – including a card of congratulations – and gracefully let this faux-pas pass out of affection for her friend.

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Miss Juice May 24, 2012 at 3:30 pm

I recently won a gift card for a restaurant via a contest on facebook sponsored by a local entertainment blog. They asked for my address and said that it would come in the mail. It has been almost two weeks and it hasn’t arrived yet. Is there a polite way to inquire about the status?

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Chocobo May 24, 2012 at 10:02 pm

I think it would be perfectly appropriate to simply call them, ask for the management, and inquire politely that you are the contest winner and wondered whether the prize might have gotten lost in the mail. Then perhaps the management will take that opportunity to save face, get off their duff, and stick it in the mailbox.

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Glen T May 24, 2012 at 3:46 pm

I am baffled as to how to respond to a couple who was invited to my wedding, responded that they would attend then did not show, and sent me an email afterward saying that they had a crazy day and were unable to make the drive (the wedding was about 2 hours from where they live). As an excuse, they said that his mother was moving in with them in a couple weeks, but also mentioned that her house sold several weeks ago. Any suggestions?

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Winifred Rosenburg May 24, 2012 at 4:21 pm

I wouldn’t respond. That’s not a good excuse for not attending when they said they would, but unfortunately there’s nothing you can say that will help the situation. The damage is done; all you can do now is reconsider your relationship with these people.

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Chocobo May 24, 2012 at 9:59 pm

I agree with Winifred. If you can’t muster a polite response that does not chew them out — tempting as it is — do not respond. If you can find it within you to reply, write with a cool politeness that doesn’t indicate you buy their non-apology, but doesn’t tell them off either. Something like: “I’m sorry to hear that, good luck with the move.” Then perhaps reflect on whether you want to continue a relationship with people who have made their priorities so clear.

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What to say? May 24, 2012 at 11:51 pm

I have a rather unusual dilemma. I am frequently approached by strangers and asked if I am a model. The fact is, I am. I am not famous, but it is my only source of income. I have become used to this type of interaction, and try to take it as a compliment. The problem is that sometimes, after asking me, people frequently tell me that it is their life-long dream to be a model and/or ask me for advice on how to become a model. Unfortunately, modeling has very specific physical requirements that are entirely a matter of genetic luck. The people who ask me for advice never meet these requirements (and cannot change them: ie: height, bone structure, age).

I never want to make someone feel as if they are not good enough or don’t measure up. There are many stunning people who, despite their beauty, cannot model. At the same time, I know that scam agencies run rampant in this industry and I do not want to leave someone vulnerable to these scams. These “agencies” charge thousands of dollars for classes and photos without any possibilities of future work.

How can I respond politely to these requests for advice without hurting someone’s feelings or setting them up for disaster? (The people I encounter these situations with are always total strangers . Sometimes they are fellow passengers on the subway, sometimes they are cashiers in the store, sometimes they are restaurant employees, and sometimes they are simply passer-bys on the street). I would appreciate your input for this unusual situation! Thank you.

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Just Laura May 25, 2012 at 12:14 am

I have always known that at 5’3″, I’m too short to be a real model. You are very lucky to be the correct height. ;) Unfortunately, many people may not know their own limitations, as you’ve pointed out. When people ask for advice, I suggest simply saying, “You know, it was actually just luck, and I wish you luck as well.” That way you don’t embarrass them, or inadvertently put them down or make them uncomfortable.

You are very kind for being concerned about a nice way to let people down. Maybe others on this forum will have other/better ideas. :)

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Zakafury May 25, 2012 at 9:34 am

Even plain-looking men like me know that modeling agent scams are not uncommon. You don’t need to worry about making someone more susceptible to such a confidence game.

You could head off the dreams & aspirations conversation by immediately changing the subject. “Thank you, so much. I do model, actually. What do you do for work?” They may feel put on the spot, but turnabout is fair play.

When they directly ask for advice you can provide some. “Local businesses sometimes have open casting calls for their commercials. Plenty of people get started there.”

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Chocobo May 25, 2012 at 1:55 pm

I believe Just Laura is correct. I would not offer advice to anyone, never mind the state of their bone structure. Saying something to the tune of “I was very lucky” is not only charmingly humble, but has the benefit of being truth. You may let the inquirer decide whether your luck was in your big break or your genetics.

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Lucky May 31, 2012 at 10:58 pm

I was the OP for the modeling question. Thank you to all who responded! You were very helpful. I love the idea of responding by saying I was lucky. It’s absolutely true and it doesn’t make me out to be an expert in anything (so not qualified to give advice) :-)

Thank you again! I’ ve really been enjoying learning from this blog!

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