dear miss: I discovered a lady’s purse lying on the floor in the parking lot of a grocery store. I checked the contents and found that it contained a driver’s license, credit cards, insurance cards, vaccination certificate and other important forms of identification, but no cash.
Her address was nearby, and I was able to get her phone number online, so I called her to tell her I had found her wallet and was going to drive her back.
She seemed excited and grateful, but when I arrived, I immediately searched her to see how much money was available before giving me a frustrated look.
I explained that I had found the wallet free of cash, but she seemed unsatisfied, perhaps silently wondering if I had taken what was there. Then she gave me a dusty bottle of wine as a gift and thanked me again, and quickly escorted me to the door.
I love helping others and I don’t subscribe to the old saying “no good deed goes unpunished”. However, I wonder how I could have handled this situation differently. Should I have mailed the wallet anonymously instead of returning it in person?
I don’t necessarily need to be rewarded for doing the right thing – however, I don’t want to be screened as a potential criminal for doing that either.
Gentle Reader: You and the Miss Manners share an unwillingness to punish good deeds, so perhaps you can also agree that virtue can be its own reward. As in: I thanked you, maybe not as kind as she could have done, but you still did the right thing.
dear miss: I seem old fashioned. I don’t have a mobile phone. I don’t have the caller ID. I don’t have an answering machine. When I receive a phone call, I have no technical assistance in identifying the caller.
My parents told me to always start a phone call by introducing myself, such as: “This is Kristen. Can I talk to…” This practice appears to have expired; When I answer the phone, very few of my callers introduce themselves.
Although I recognize the voices of family and close friends, there are many callers whose voices are unfamiliar, leading me to wonder, “Who am I talking to?”
My question is often followed by a pause, as if I had just insulted the caller by not recognizing their voice or identity. Have the rules changed? Is it still appropriate to identify you when initiating a phone call?
Gentle Reader: It’s always polite to identify a person, but these days when caller identification is almost ubiquitous, people are starting to assume technology has done it for them.
The caller may not realize that it has not been done. Ms. Manners suggests you defuse the situation by saying, “Excuse me, but I have an old-fashioned phone. Who am I talking to?” While it would be an insult (or self-deprecation) to label someone as old-fashioned, it shouldn’t hurt your phone.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website www.missmanners.com; to her email email@example.com; Or via postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.