Passing dishes: clockwise or counter-?

Q  I was at an informal dinner and people were passing bowls and platters in both directions and it was pretty awkward. Is there a guideline for which way food is passed at the table?

A Yes, and it is that you pass counterclockwise, or to the right. The person to your right takes the bowl with his left hand, serves himself with his right hand, and continues to pass to the right. Obviously, after everyone has helped himself and someone to your immediate left or a place setting or two away asks you to please pass a bowl that is in front of you, you don’t pass it all the way around the table to the right until it comes back to him — just pass it directly to him.

Q  I’m finishing my freshman year at college and am lucky enough to have a few summer job interviews lined up. How can I make a really good impression?

A  It’s great that you are thinking about this — here are a few suggestions that will help you move to the top of the interviewer’s list:

• Take a copy of your resume with you, and a notebook and pen for jotting down information or questions you may have.

• Dress appropriately. That means clean, neat, appropriate for any workplace, not too short or too revealing, and it means a clean and neat you, too, from hair to fingernails.

• Show up on time, or just a little early. Promptness counts.

• Call the interviewer by name, with his or her title, as in Dr., Mr., Ms. or Mrs. unless he or she asks you to use a first name.

• Make eye contact. Look the interviewer right in the eye, and speak clearly, no mumbling.

• Be prepared to shake hands, using your best, firm handshake, both when you arrive and when you leave, and say thank you twice, too, once verbally when you leave, and once in a prompt, written thank you note when you get home. Hope you find a terrific job!

Q  My accountant’s bill for his doing my taxes just arrived. Should I include a note with my check?

A  It’s always nice to take the time to express your appreciation, whether you are paying for a service or not. All professionals like to hear that they have done a good job for you.

Q  I’ve heard the rule “never a borrower nor a lender be” but there are times when it really helps to borrow something that I’ll never need again so it seems crazy to buy it. Is that a problem?

A  Well, the first rule about borrowing is: Don’t. It usually creates more ill will than good feelings. If you have to, then of course ask first, and return the item promptly and in the condition it was in when you borrowed it. If you break or lose what you’ve borrowed, replace it. If you can’t afford to replace it, then don’t borrow it in the first place.

Questions for Catherine Michaels? Send them to [email protected]

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