Miss Man­ners

The Buffalo News - - LIFE COLUMNS -

up the liquor, and was sur­prised to find that both bot­tles of brandy were miss­ing. The bar­tenders told me that they had not been emp­tied by the guests. The man­ager of the fa­cil­ity, which has ex­cel­lent sur­veil­lance cam­eras, pulled the video of the bar area, and it showed that one of my dear­est friends had taken both bot­tles. How do I – or should I – ad­dress this with my now soon-to-be­former “friend”?

Gen­tle Reader: Com­mer­cial es­tab­lish­ments rou­tinely, and of­ten un­der­stand­ably, in­stall sur­veil­lance equip­ment, some­times to pro­tect their pa­trons and al­ways to pro­tect them­selves. But your spy­ing on your friends – even your guilty ones – is not po­lite.

How, then, to cor­rect the prob­lem without ad­mit­ting your own, lesser, trans­gres­sion? Your first op­tion is to ad­mit the knowl­edge, but ob­fus­cate how you came by it. “The es­tab­lish­ment tells me you saved the brandies for me. Thank you so much! When can I come by to pick them up?”

Be­ing more con­fronta­tional, this ap­proach is more likely to go wrong, par­tic­u­larly if your friend has al­ready dis­posed of the in­crim­i­nat­ing ev­i­dence. A gen­tler ap­proach is to talk fondly of the party to your friend at the next so­cial event, men­tion­ing that your only dis­ap­point­ment was that the bar­tender told you that some­one helped them­selves to the bot­tles that you were hop­ing to share with your guests. This is un­likely to get your brandy back, but it may ruin the thief’s day.

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