Miss Manners: My husband was upset by my request at the restaurant

Plus: I resisted making a snappy reply to the nosy women at the checkout

TO MISS MANNERS: When is it appropriate to request a different table when seated at a restaurant?

My husband and I have a favorite restaurant that requires reservations. We’ve been seated twice in the last month, once near the restrooms and once near the kitchen.

I politely asked the hostess for another table the second time, and she graciously agreed. I thanked her profusely and left a generous tip for our waiter. The restaurant was packed, but there were plenty of open tables and no wait, so I didn’t feel unreasonable.

My husband was irritated and told me I should not have requested a different seat. He sulked for the majority of the meal.

This has happened before, and while I will sometimes accept the seating arrangement to avoid an argument, it frequently makes the meal less appealing to me. The proximity to a restroom, as well as the associated traffic and smells, is unpleasant, and if there are open seats elsewhere, I will request to be reseated.

Is this incorrect? I would greatly value your feedback.

GENTLE READER: Your husband, on the other hand, will not. The sulking is the etiquette issue here, not the seating.

He made the common mistake of believing that a restaurant is more than a commercial establishment that benefits from customer satisfaction. Because you are regular customers, the opportunity to please you by making a simple adjustment should be welcomed — and it appears that it was.

Miss Manners is aware that restaurants have their fair share of rude customers who treat the kitchen staff as if they were their personal chefs and reprimand them as if they were their own (mistreated) servants. However, you are not one of them.

Your husband, on the other hand, confuses restaurateurs with social hosts, whom it would be impolite to criticize. He is specifically thinking of mean social hosts who make a habit of snickering at everyone’s table manners.

TO MISS MANNERS: While shopping, I noticed that my favorite bar soap was on sale for a ridiculously low price. I stood in line at the cash register, my cart full of rhapsodic thoughts of not having to buy soap for a long time.

“You couldn’t possibly be that dirty!” exclaimed one of two elderly ladies when she saw my soap haul.

I then noticed that their cart was overflowing with toilet paper rolls. I was tempted — oh, boy, was I tempted — to respond that they couldn’t possibly be… Instead, I counted to ten and smiled as sweetly as I could.

Miss Manners, do you admire my restraint?


TO MISS MANNERS: Even if you are unable to attend the wedding, it is customary to send a gift to the couple. Is the same custom followed for other types of parties, such as graduations or retirements?

GENTLE READER: No, even at weddings, it is not customary. Miss Manners does not want to jeopardize anyone’s fundraising efforts, so only congratulations and best wishes are required.

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