DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was on a second date at an upscale French restaurant. To my surprise and dismay, my date was incredibly rude to the waiter the entire night, starting with criticizing him for not speaking French (as my date does), never making eye contact with the waiter, never saying please and thank you, and so on.
I was mortified and I should have gotten up and walked out, but I didn’t. I paid the bill, as I had offered, and left a larger tip than normal. The next day I called the restaurant to apologize, and the manager told me the waiter had already alerted him to the bad situation.
The date hasn’t called me and I haven’t called him. Is there something else I should have done for the waiter?
GENTLE READER: Perhaps thanked him for saving you from any possible third date with that person.
How people treat those who are not in a position to defend themselves is a good test of character. Your good character was demonstrated when you compensated the waiter and then also corroborated his story with his boss.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I like to listen to podcasts on sound-blocking earbuds while exercising. I also attend the gym as early as possible to get in and out. The issue I have is that a couple of other people turn up the sound on the TV to the point of interfering with me.
I’ve politely asked them to turn the sound down and use the closed-caption feature on the TV. One person told me to turn my own sound up and blow out my eardrums. The other turned it up the TV sound even louder.
I tried talking to the manager, to no avail. Any ideas on how to handle the rudeness of these individuals? I’m to the point of considering bringing in a speaker to deaden their noise or broadcast an offensive podcast at them.
Why are some people so rude, and what else can I do?
GENTLE READER: And why are you even fantasizing about joining them by being rude yourself?
Alas, that is often how people react: They hate being treated rudely, and therefore think of ways to outdo the offenders.
Please forgive Miss Manners for sounding off. You did not succumb to being rude, and instead tried the polite methods of handling this: asking the offender and then appealing to authority.
Unfortunately, for a system of etiquette to function, it requires a sense of decency, or at least the desire for a peaceful community. Those qualities of civilized life seem to be in short supply now. Let us hope that you can find a gym where blatant rudeness is not tolerated.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Why are we supposed to put napkins in our laps?
GENTLE READER: As opposed to using them as shirt protectors?
Barring special conditions, people over the age of 6 are supposed to be able to transport food from the plate to their mouths without getting it all over themselves. Therefore, the napkin is merely placed within reach for minor dabbing. If you need more protection, Miss Manners acknowledges that it would be safer to move it within range of what you will splatter.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website www.missmanners.com.