Advice Columns

Restaurant owner refuses tip and patron is confused

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I fear I have committed an egregious error at a small restaurant that I order from about once or twice a month. I waited at the counter as the waitress gathered my order, which totaled $16.80. I paid a gentleman, who turned out to be the restaurant owner, $20. I was feeling generous this day, since I noticed that the same waitress works both the tables and the counter. He returned with my change, to which I added an extra $5. Well, the owner asked if I knew what the correct amount of my order was. I explained that I did. He then proceeded to tell me that I had given too much. I explained that I was trying to give a tip. He then returned my $5. All this occurred in front of both staff and patrons. I hurriedly took my order and left.
When I reached my car, I found the owner coming down the street after me. Again, he explained that I had given too much and he felt bad taking my money. I, again, explained myself, now totally embarrassed by the now two public scenes that I was involved in. I turn to Miss Manners to help me make sense of this situation and how I can better handle it if it occurs again. By the way, I think it will be a very long time before I patronize this restaurant again. GENTLE READER:

Then give Miss Manners the address. She would love to meet a business owner who is too proud to accept a tip.

True, he might have gone about refusing it in a quieter way. And she understands that nowadays, when greed is so rampant that one is more likely to be embarrassed by loud demands for tips, you may not even know that one is not supposed to tip the owner. Many business owners have been trying to suppress this bit of etiquette information.

But it is a shame for you to have to give up a favorite restaurant over this misunderstanding. You could clear it up by returning and telling the owner that you had intended the tip for the hard-working waitress, not for him, but would respect a no-tipping policy if you knew about it.

Reply to invitation DEAR MISS MANNERS: I disagree with my wife regarding not replying for a wedding invitation. She has a friend whom she has known since college, which was 20 years ago. She has told her over the phone that we will be attending her wedding. She also informed her that we already bought plane tickets so we will definitely be attending. With all of this knowledge, is it rude not to respond to the invitation by not sending in the RSVP, since her friend already knows that we will be attending?

Do you have a daughter who might someday marry? Because at that time, when you say, “OK, tell me all the people who have said yes, and who have said no,” your wife will understand.

But who knows how many people she will have driven crazy by then. Much rudeness is committed by people who are unable to put themselves in others’ places.

If you are unable to convince your wife of the necessity to do her old friend this courtesy, Miss Manners asks you to write the response yourself.

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