DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’m one spouse in a biracial, same-sex marriage. It really rips me when waitpersons don’t pick up on the fact that my husband and I are a couple (let alone spouses) and ask us whether we want separate checks. So much so that I make a significant deduction to their tip (up to 50 percent if they’ve done something else to annoy me).
I realize this isn’t teaching them anything, but short of trying to engage an already annoying person in additional unwanted chatter, what can I do to make myself feel better about the situation? Do you have any thoughts, please?
GENTLE READER: Chiefly that you stop overthinking this.
How, exactly, would you propose teaching service people to recognize that two people, of whatever race or gender, are a couple? Eavesdropping to discover if they are discussing whether the washing machine should be fixed or replaced? Checking to see if they are playing footsie under the table?
And what if they are a couple, unmarried or married, who keep separate accounts? Or one of them is taking the other out for a special treat?
Sadly, Miss Manners shouldn’t think you would have to work that hard to find evidence of prejudice.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Working at a restaurant in a small tourist town, I find myself and my co-workers constantly being photographed. Some people will ask first and, depending on how busy I am, I will oblige.
Is it rude for people to snap shots of their server, cashier, etc., or is it just part of working in the service industry?
GENTLE READER: It is rude to interrupt someone who is working with non-work-related matters, but it is not unreasonable to expect that at tourist destinations, photography is part of the service. If it bothers you, Miss Manners recommends that for the customers who do not ask permission, you find a way to be inadvertently looking the other direction at something work-related.
The waiting game
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I volunteered to drive a neighbor’s daughter to school due to my neighbor’s sickness and have been doing so all year.
The young lady is consistently late and makes us wait outside 5 to 10 minutes each morning. I have other children to drive who need to be on time, as well as myself for work.
Is it too much of me to expect the young lady to be ready to leave at the appropriate time? I feel bad leaving without her, but one morning I had to.
GENTLE READER: Repeat if necessary.
No time for chat
DEAR MISS MANNERS: So many times, as I am leaving the office, a certain co-worker will start up a conversation. It won’t be about anything specific, or work-related (or interesting), but she will start talking and keep talking.
I am usually more interested in going home to relax than in chitchat. Is there a polite way to say, “Shut up, I want to go home”?
GENTLE READER: “I’m so sorry, but I must get going now. Let’s pick this up tomorrow.” Miss Manners assures you that if you do this — without, in fact, picking it up tomorrow — your co-worker will not follow you home.
Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
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