Dear Miss Manners: When a doctor’s receptionist calls to confirm your appointment and you are out, they practically demand that you call them to assure them you are keeping your appointment.
This is becoming epidemic. I find it annoying, as any respectable person will keep an appointment they make, or cancel it in a reasonable time. Thus I find this request rather insulting, as it translates to, “Assure me that you’re an honest person.”
Gentle Reader: The receptionist, who undoubtedly agrees with you about the importance of keeping appointments, would answer that the epidemic is among patients who do not. And being a member of a medical staff, he or she has a professional aversion to epidemics of any kind.
Miss Manners does not consider that the cure is worse than the disease. The reminder call is a kindness, so long as any request for confirmation is not too strongly worded. Doctors’ offices do it as an alternative to the punitive, though acceptable, business practice of charging for missed appointments as if they had occurred.
Dear Miss Manners: What is proper when someone apologizes and you know it isn’t sincere? To just say, “I do not accept your apology,” or what? How do I respond?
Gentle Reader: “I appreciate your saying that.” It may be said in the same tone of voice that led you to believe that the apology was not sincere.
And if you are on jury duty, Miss Manners assures you that an insincere apology does not prevent you from voting for conviction.
Dear Miss Manners: Many people do not feel the need to cancel parties, events, performances, games, etc., even though a close family member or friend has died.
“She would have wanted the party to go on.” That is what Clive Davis said when he held his pre-Grammy party with the body of his dead friend Whitney Houston still on the premises.
What is the rule about what events do or don’t “go on” when a family member or close friend (how close?) dies. Does the football player still play in the Super Bowl the day after his father dies?
Does the president address Congress the day after the death of his daughter (for example)? Where do you draw the line?
Gentle Reader: It is amazing how many recently deceased people take an interest in jolly events that they will miss. One used to be able to take it for granted that hosting a party or attending a joyous event while in mourning was something to be avoided.
However, this is not always possible.
The Constitution allows flexibility in the timing of the State of the Union address, even if network television producers do not. Team members may need the contributions of a player who feels up to participating.
There can be no absolute rule, as the severity and closeness of the loss has to be weighed against the importance of the event, the ability to reschedule and the level of inconvenience to other participants.
If participation is unavoidable and bearable, Miss Manners and good taste still expect subdued behavior, and the phrase “She would have wanted the party to go on” to be said in a funereal tone and not followed by open displays of hilarity.
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, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.