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I joined some friends one night for a dance social. After the lights came on and the social was closing up, I was put in charge of making sure one of my friends made it home safely since he'd been drinking a bit. While getting him something to eat and verifying he got home, I remembered I forgot to take my drinks back to my car from the social (the social was BYOB). I saw the bag zipped up when the lights came on and the studio was emptying out.

I texted the host of the social about my bag and the drinks inside of it, including a list of all the bottles in the bag. My friend also sent a text to the host about the bag and the drinks inside of it. The host responded "I got it" and that I could pick it up the next day.

When I went to pick up the bag from the host 2 of the bottles were gone. One side of me says someone could've grabbed the bottles after I left, but another side of me suspects the host took them since he never stated there were bottles missing.

My question is: how do I avoid being offensive when I ask the host about the two missing bottles?
I want to know if the host did or didn't take my bottles without being abrasive or allowing my preconceptions to interfere. I do not want to accuse the host of stealing it, since he might not have done it, and I also might want to go to this dance social again.

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    If you amend your question and it gets re-opened, can you add a geographic tag and perhaps explain the local habit for BYOB social? Where I live, and when I used to go to such things, it was BYOB, but you didn't take YOB away with you again at the end, if you took it you left it and if you'd taken far more than you drank that was Host's perks. – Spagirl Apr 23 '18 at 11:41
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Your stated goal is to ask the question without offending the host. The thing that would cause them offence is if you accused them of theft, so really you need to avoid saying that outright.

You need to be prepared for:

  • The fact that the host may deny knowing anything about the bottles even if they did take them,
  • The possibility that you might also be wrong about what was in the bag when it was zipped up, and
  • It is unlikely you will get your bottles back.

So long as you are cool with that, you might say:

Thanks for keeping my bag for me the other night. When I opened it though there were two bottles missing - [state what they were]. I was sure they were in there when I zipped it up. Do you think they could have ended up anywhere else by mistake?

By allowing the host the possibility of a mistake you are giving them a way out of the situation if they did take the bottles. By being specific, if the bottles have turned up somewhere else, either due to someone else moving them or the possibility you made a mistake, then the host may identify them and be able to get them back to you. I would advise against suggesting theft. Even if they did take them, they will act offended and that is in conflict with your primary stated goal of not causing offence, which in turn may affect your future social opportunities here.

If you really must persist, make it an open question such as:

Do you think anybody might have taken them?

If the host does not find the bottles after you approach them this way, again, you will never know if they took them or not and may have to give this person the benefit of the doubt. However, if they did then you have at least let them know you aren't stupid and were sober enough to know exactly what was in your bag at the end of the night. If it was an opportunistic theft based on the assumption you wouldn't notice, they won't make that mistake again. Similarly, though, you are unlikely to leave your bag in there again.

It is sad that you went somewhere and (possibly) had something stolen when you thought you were among friends - but it sounds like a wider scope than just your close friends so in many ways was no different to a public place. If you'd lost your wallet in public it wouldn't prevent you from going out of the house again, so don't let this (possible) incident stop you going to these socials again - just be more careful!

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    I would make "Do you think they could have ended up anywhere else by mistake?" even softer with a simple "Have you seen them anywhere?" – WendyG Mar 21 at 10:23

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