Dear Miss Manners: Please counsel the polite customer as to the proper way to answer the question often posed by restaurant waiters, "How is everything?" when the honest answer may not be entirely complimentary.
Gentle Reader: Waiters tend to believe that the question is a polite convention — the professional equivalent of "How are you? — not meant to be taken literally.
And many customers believe it is an invitation to deliver a lengthy review of the service, the setting and the soup.
Believing that Civilized Behavior trumps Truth No Matter the Cost, Miss Manners eschews both extremes. It is permissible to raise issues that the server can address. These include, "Thank you, the steak appears to be lovely, but I ordered the salmon," and, "Fine, thank you, would it be possible to get the check now?"
They do not include detailed critiques of ingredients.
Dear Miss Manners: Is it inappropriate to give a co-worker his wedding gift at the office? The wedding will take place in his hometown, and it didn't make sense to take the gift all the way there, when he will have to transport it all the way back here where he lives.
Gentle Reader: Delivering a present at a wedding, when Miss Manners hopes that the recipients' minds are otherwise occupied, is never correct. But delivering it at work may also be inconvenient, not only because your co-worker would have to lug it on his commute home, but also because it may cause him problems with co-workers who were not invited to the wedding.
Traditionally, wedding presents sent before the ceremony are mailed to the bride's home, but as he is the one you know, you may mail it to his home and presume that he will share it.
Dear Miss Manners: When I went with my mom to a new doctor, he had his cellphone on the table between us, and checked it every time it rang.
On the second visit, his phone was again on his desk, and upon checking it, he said, "Arizona?" and proceeded to answer it. Then he had the nerve to tell us it was a robo call.
I asked him why he felt it necessary to even have the cellphone on when he is seeing a patient. His response was, "It might be a doctor."
It rang twice more, but he didn't answer either of those calls. Just the ringing was very distracting to all of us.
I couldn't believe that he did not see the rudeness in all of this. We have no plans to ever see him again. (Unfortunately, he founded a doctors' cancer group — hopefully the rest of his group is not as rude!)
Gentle Reader: His behavior was not just rude, but unwise in tacitly admitting to his belief that doctors outrank patients. Miss Manners will be on the lookout for the inevitable complaint from this very same doctor when his patients emulate his behavior.
"Miss Manners" is Judith Martin of the Washington Post. Send questions to her website, www.missmanners.com.