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Miss Manners: Friend does a slow burn from thank-you after fire

Dear Miss Manners: Friends of mine lost their home to a house fire. It was terrible. Another friend set up a “go fund me”-type page for friends and family to donate and help the couple. Many friends, including me, helped with money, meals, laundry and their dog while they were getting back on their feet.

Last week, they sent thank-you notes. My roommate received one addressed to her and I did not. The notes were not individualized; it was a printed one-size-fits-all message. My roommate realized I did not receive a thank you, so she sent a private message to the couple just letting them know I had been left out. I did not know she had done this until later.

The next day, I got a text message apologizing and saying that I had been left out because their friend who addressed the notes must have missed me! (Miss Manners, they didn’t even address the notes themselves!) It was accompanied by a picture of the thank-you note, which was texted to me with the message, “Here’s a thank you just for you. XOXO”

I am miffed. I helped them in their time of need and didn’t get a second thought. I have not responded to her text message. Is it fair of me to consider this friendship over? Should I tell her that I am upset, or should I accept that this boorish thank you was better than nothing?

Gentle Reader: Let us say that these are not the people to count on if your house burns down.

Miss Manners realizes that they have suffered a disaster and are occupied with putting their lives back together. If hundreds of strangers had pitched in, it would have been acceptable to write an effusive public letter with an apology for not being able to write to each individual.

It seems unlikely that your “many” meant more than a dozen at most. And these were not strangers, but friends. They may not have been coping with disasters of their own, but they had busy schedules of their own, which they sacrificed to help a friend.

After the friends were re-established with food and shelter, what higher priority could there be than to treasure those who generously rushed to their aid?

What she sent you, instead, was not a letter expressing gratitude, but a sort of receipt, and upon request, at that. Miss Manners is not surprised that this would dampen, if not kill, the friendship.

Be discreet removing food

Dear Miss Manners: I understand from you that inedible items, such as bits of shell or gristle, should leave the mouth by the way they entered, e.g., mouth to fork. What I have not understood is how to discreetly move the items from the mouth back onto the utensil.

Should one raise the fork and try to deposit the item outside, or put an empty fork into the mouth and try to maneuver things within a closed mouth before removal? Or is there a third option to more quickly and successfully accomplish this?

Gentle Reader: The third option is to excuse oneself from the table and pick the offending item out in private. The second option is bound to be conspicuous, if not dangerous. Therefore, Miss Manners leaves you with the first option and the hope that you can accomplish it discreetly.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email,; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.