Have a manners question? Ask Mister Manners!

Submit your manners question hereDue to the volume of e-mail we receive, we regret that we cannot respond to all questions. Please note: Any questions submitted may be published.


I found your page while searching for advice on teaching tween girls to be considerate and not whisper or exclude one another. This is a big problem on my daughter's gymnastics team, and I am sure in many schools and sports teams. Any advice?

—Anne M.

Your daughter is certainly of an age where this sort of situation is common. Have you tried approaching her directly? Let her know how hurtful these scenarios can be for the ones being whispered about. Be sure she understands that it's okay not to partake, and that as she gets older, she'll realize that the whisperers are often lacking in confidence and character, and the ones who refuse to take part are the admirable ones. 

Since this is a problem that seems to affect the entire team, have you spoken to your daughter's coach? The coach should make this sort of thing a priority, because it can only serve to weaken the team's unity when there's so much gossip going on. If the coach can't get through, what about a graduate of the program, perhaps someone right out of college? Having someone who has succeeded in gymnastics and who is just a few years older than the girls in question may just command their undivided attention and help convince them to change their whispery ways.


I have booked a service to take me from the Philadelphia airport to Ambler, Pennsylvania. The reservation I made says no tip required, because the tip was included in the price.  My plane arrives at 11:00 p.m., which means the driver will be making a late night run.  Do I tip him anyway, and if so, how much?

—Bonnie L.

If the tip is included, you have no obligation to tip additionally, and limo drivers are certainly accustomed to picking up passengers at all hours. That being said, if you find the driver to be particularly courteous/friendly/ helpful, I would add another 5-percent to the overall amount.


If a waiter brings over my entree along with little bowls of veggies placed on top of the plate, what should I do with the bowls? Eat from the bowls, or pour the vegetables from the bowls onto my plate?

—Scott B.

The answer really depends on the sort of restaurant you're in...is this a fine-dining establishment (in which case the vegetables were put into smaller vessels for a very specific reason) or a more casual dining establishment, in which case there may be a more practical reason for this separation.

In a fine-dining spot, you'll most likely have a small serving spoon in or next to each of the bowls. In the casual spot, that may not be the case. In the latter case, however, I would request your server bring you a spoon so you can place the vegetables onto your larger plate in portions as you progress through your meal. (Providing there is room on your plate and that this won't mean you're mixing sauces or condiments that do not go well together, of course.)


We live in a small Midwestern town. When my husband fell ill earlier this year, a great many people went the extra mile (and then some) to help us in various ways. We're currently short on spare funds, but well-stocked on flour, sugar, and good cheer. Is it acceptable to take brownies and other treats to the post office, doctor's office and other organizations that have been so kind to us?

—Audrey L.

By all means spread the cheer through baked goods! The love and care that goes into warm homemade holiday cookies can sometimes mean even more than cold, hard cash.

If the recipient will be someone who is accustomed to receiving a tip from you at the end of the year (a hairdresser or a babysitter, for instance), be sure to convey that your not tipping him or her this year doesn't reflect on the level of service that you have received. State simply that funds are a bit tight for you and that you nonetheless want to express your appreciation in the most sincere way possible. The best way to do this is (in addition to the baked goods) is with a holiday card/thank-you note that acknowledges your gratitude and accompanies the wrapped goodies.