DEAR MISS MANNERS: My mother and I have played party bridge for many, many years with several different groups. One group has only two tables of four women, for a total of eight women, whom they call the “regulars.” My mother and I are substitutes and fill in when asked.
Lately, when a regular cancels, we are called, only to be called back the following day and told, “Oh, so-and-so decided to play after all, so I won’t need you.”
I find this rude and in poor taste, don’t you? This has happened several times recently. I hoped that bridge etiquette would address this.
GENTLE READER: Bridge player though she is, Miss Manners has never understood players who interpret the rules as barring the door to anyone whose friends do not come in exact multiples of four. Has the dummy not noticed that at least one person will always be sitting out in every hand? Of all sports, bridge is particularly amenable to socializing.
Better to rotate the extra person in between rubbers than to rescind an invitation. But if the seriousness of the players absolutely requires consistent teams, then the regulars should be instructed that telling the hostess they are unavailable can no more be taken back than a thoughtless lead.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: While sitting with a group at a restaurant table, is it considered the height of rudeness to abruptly interrupt someone while he or she is announcing his or her food order to a waiter or waitress?
Such was a serious problem I had several years ago. While I was telling a waiter what I wanted to eat, a nervy woman in our group interrupted me, snapping in front of everyone, “You should order something else!”
I was never so humiliated in all my life! I was so overwhelmed that I did not know what to say. I was dumbstruck. I gave her a dirty look, but she only looked at me and the others and laughed in my face, not caring that she upset me. To me, that is no way to act in what my mother calls “polite company.”
I wish I had said to her, “If I want your help, what do you say you lemme ask for it!” How would you have dealt with a situation such as this one?
GENTLE READER: Not by returning thoughtless rudeness with snide rudeness. Miss Manners infers from your reaction that the woman’s injunction contained an implied criticism, perhaps to your selection’s being, in her mind, unhealthy. She understands why you might feel annoyed, but reminds you that you are surely not the only one at the table who noticed this person’s rudeness. The correct response is to ignore the interjection entirely by firmly completing your order, and then resuming a prior conversation with other members of the party. By making your displeasure clear, you will enlist the help of polite company in embarrassing the nervy woman – rather than rewarding her by acknowledging her openly.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com.
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