My husband and I took our family to a resort hotel in Hawaii. After leaving the pool one afternoon, I realized I had left my hat on a chaise. So, I dumped my stuff in my room and trekked back to the pool. The pool attendant had put my hat in the towel hut. I thanked him. He replied: “‘Thank you’ doesn’t pay the bills, ma’am.” I shrugged to show him I had nothing but my room key. When I told the story later, my husband thought I should go back the next day with a $5 tip. My daughter-in-law thought I should report him for rudeness. And the others said: Let it go. That’s what I did, deciding that the $100 per room resort fee covered this. Thoughts?
Of course the pool attendant broke protocol by speaking so candidly to a guest. But if I’m candid — and picture a person earning minimum wage (plus tips) by laying down towels for people with hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a night to spend on hotel rooms — I bet that tamping down resentment is an occasional feature of his job.
I advise patience and grace on your part. We all have bad days. I also like your husband’s idea of going back with a tip to thank the man for keeping track of your hat. (Not his job!) Now, I underscore that I’m referring to occasional lapses. If he tip-mongered daily, or was otherwise aggressive, I would have spoken to a manager.
One final quibble about hotel resort fees: Theoretically, they help maintain special amenities at hotels, like golf courses and tennis courts. But cynics note they also allow hotels to quote cheaper room rates (even as they collect additional funds from guests). Either way, there is little chance of that money flowing to pool attendants.
Can You Guys Not Eat Garbage?
I have struggled with bulimia for 20 years. I cope with it by keeping junk food out of my house. My overweight parents, on the other hand, have awful eating habits. They keep their home stocked with junk food and offer it constantly. I find this triggering — like offering an alcoholic a drink. I’ve been visiting them more frequently now that we have kids, and I’d like to ask them not to buy junk food when we’re around. But my husband thinks it’s my responsibility to change my behavior, not my parents’ job to change theirs. Who is right?
Right and wrong are beside the point here. All that matters is what serves your recovery and what undermines it. I’m a little surprised that your husband is out of step on this one. We all need a helping hand occasionally.
If you speak openly with your parents about what you need, I hope they will do what they can to support you. (Leave out the shaming criticism of their weight and diets, though.) If they refuse your request, cut back on visits to their place and encourage them to see the grandkids at your place, where you control the pantry.
I like to go for walks around my neighborhood at night. Through the windows of a neighbor’s house, I’ve noticed a beautiful, powerful painting hanging on the wall. It’s easy to see from the street at night when the lights are on indoors — which is often. I would love to know the name of the artist, but I’ve had no luck searching for the painting online. I also have no idea who lives in the house. Would it be O.K. to knock on the door and ask about the painting? (I’m 30 years old and six feet tall, for reference.)
Call me unneighborly, but I dislike it when strangers knock on my door, regardless of their height. I also dislike the idea of people looking into my apartment at night — even though that’s my fault because I rarely draw the blinds.
So, how do we overcome these common dislikes? I suggest leaving a note in your neighbor’s mailbox or at the door. Apologize for the intrusion, report your admiration for the painting, which you’ve seen from the street, and ask the owner to call or email with the artist’s name. I can’t speak for all neighbors, but I’d reply to that note.
Must We Order Top Shelf?
My husband and I frequently go out to dinner with another couple with whom we’re close. The problem: The other husband orders expensive wine. We prefer to order something much less expensive. We’re comfortable financially; we just prefer not to spend a lot of money on wine. Typically, we split checks. How do we resolve this without creating hard feelings?
For some people, it can be embarrassing to admit that we don’t have as much as others. But these are close friends, right? They probably have a pretty good idea of your financial condition. Put aside pridefulness and say, “Let’s compromise on a less expensive bottle of wine. We don’t like to spend so much.” It’s hard to imagine that ruffling any feathers. They’re there for you, not the wine.
For help with your awkward situation, send a question to SocialQ@nytimes.com, to Philip Galanes on Facebook or@SocialQPhilipon Twitter.