DEAR MISS MANNERS: In a restaurant where there is a sign that states “No shirt, no shoes, no service,” why are people allowed in to eat wearing sandals or flip-flops? You know, the flip-flops that we used to wear when we went to the swimming pool.
I see people all the time wearing flip-flops in restaurants. I thought the sign meant if you do not have shoes on, you will not get served. But I see now that most restaurants do not have that sign up like they used to.
GENTLE READER: Do you have any idea what it is like to establish any sort of dress code nowadays?
Employers direct their workers to dress professionally, in terms of whatever the particular profession happens to be. Hosts beg their guests to dress up for their important occasions. Schools issue rules banning vulgar and bigoted outfits. Businesses try to establish a tone they expect their customers to follow.
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And what does it get them? Code violators who consider themselves to be fighting, sometimes with lawsuits, for the noble cause of freedom of expression.
It appears that only clubs with rough bouncers are able to inspire people to dress symbolically for the activity in which they are engaged.
So Miss Manners doesn’t wonder that those who write such codes back away from battles over strict enforcement, especially over such hair-splitting questions as what constitutes a shoe. Perhaps if they notice they are losing customers who want a more dignified, or less smelly, atmosphere, they will act.
Or they could just hire a toughie to stand at the door, pronouncing people “tacky” and turning them away. Then the lines will form around the block.
Who’s the rude one?
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My sister sent me a text saying she needed to know who from my family would be attending her daughter’s wedding. It was five weeks from the wedding.
It said she needed to know ASAP, as it was a small wedding, and good friends could not be invited because of family. She didn’t see a reservation for my daughter and son-in-law because the block of rooms at the hotel was full. (They have reservations at a nearby hotel.)
I was very hurt, but she claims I withheld information from her and I am too sensitive. Am I wrong to feel as I do?
GENTLE READER: Yes. And it strikes Miss Manners that for someone with tender feelings about herself, you are amazingly insensitive to your sister’s needs.
The lady is planning a wedding. She needs to know who is attending. She went so far as to check the hotel reservations searching for an answer about your family.
But although they decided to go, and took care to notify a hotel, they did not have the courtesy to answer the invitation.
At most, you could wish that your sister had confronted the rude guests, rather than going through you, possibly out of delicacy (or possibly because she didn’t have their texting address). But your indignation should be directed at your daughter and son-in-law for embarrassing the family.
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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