DEAR MISS MANNERS: I found myself in an awkward situation on a business trip with a colleague whose mobility is impaired due to bad knees. Our hotel was just a block from our workspace, so we did not have a car.
Midweek, we met up with some other colleagues for dinner at a restaurant about a half-mile away, which is quite easily walkable for me, but not my colleague. She asked if we could split a cab, and I said yes, suggesting she get the fare on the way to the restaurant and I get it on the way back.
However, had it been just me, I would have walked both ways and saved the money. How could I have told her politely that I would have preferred to walk and that perhaps she should get the fare both ways?
GENTLE READER: By telling her from the beginning that you preferred to walk, before any unseemly talk of payment became relevant. But Miss Manners would have taken the cab, just to avoid calling attention to your colleague's problem.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: An artist that I met once long ago and bought a painting from contacted me through social media. He said that he wanted to send me some small items, as he was thinking of me, and asked for my address. Although I didn't want anything from him and tried to gently dissuade him, he was adamant, so I did send my address.
When I received the package he sent, it contained some tea that his community makes, along with a thick stack of postcards of his work — and a note asking me to sell the postcards in order for him to make money to print more postcards.
Although the postcards of his work are very nice, I have no way or desire to sell them for him, nor do I really want them for myself. Could you please suggest what I do with them? I am at a loss.
What seemed at first to be a gift is now a burden of time and finance. Do I return the postcards and the tea? Send him $20 and wash my hands of everything? Do I write him a polite note and tell him I have no way to sell anything for him, and ask what he'd like me to do with everything?
I don't wish to hurt his feelings or burn a bridge, but this "gift" seems onerous. Help! What is the most polite way out of this situation?
GENTLE READER: Express thanks for the tea and leave it at that.
You owe this person nothing, Miss Manners assures you, except the money that you have already paid for his painting. These postcards were sent under false pretenses and are therefore not your problem.
When thanking him for the tea, you may add: "If anyone asks me about where I got the painting, I will give them one of your postcards to contact you. But I am afraid I am not in the business of brokering talent."
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.