Advice Columns

Miss Manners: No need to be polite about dead bug

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DEAR MISS MANNERS: I regularly frequent a fairly informal pizza chain, as I like its lunch special. I was sitting at the bar yesterday when my food came; I took a bite of pizza and then saw, in between the salad and pizza, a dead bug.

It was bigger than a fruit fly, but not huge. A work call came in, so I took about five minutes to deal with that, and then waited for the server/bartender, and finally went over to talk to her.

I know intellectually the bug wasn’t a huge deal, but because I spent several minutes with it on my plate, upside down with the legs in the air, I just didn’t have an appetite. I quietly told the server that I understood it wasn’t her fault, but I had a bug on my plate and wasn’t going to be eating any more lunch.

She said she was sorry, took the plate away, and I left. I told my boyfriend about it later, and he, just like the server, seemed to be surprised that I got up and left.

What’s the proper etiquette in that situation? If you go to a sit-down restaurant and see something like that after having taken only one bite, is it OK to leave, or is that bad form? Should I have given the restaurant another chance?

I go pretty often (once a week) and tip well, usually 50 percent. I also just didn’t have an appetite after that, which was very disappointing because I had been hungry and love pizza.

But I definitely didn’t mean to be impolite, and I didn’t make a scene. I was as quiet as possible because I didn’t want the other people at the bar to hear.

GENTLE READER: Another chance to do what, exactly? Clean the kitchen?

Miss Manners appreciates your concern for the restaurateur’s feelings but assures you that good manners do not require you to take a chance on a replacement meal. An astute server — not to mention her boss — should have been all over you with apologies and restitution out of concern that you would call the local health department. Which, by the way, might be a good idea.

She shouldn’t have to ask for a seat

DEAR MISS MANNERS: When an expecting mother is out in public — for instance, in the waiting area of a casual restaurant — where all the seating is taken and she begins to feel a little unsteady on her feet, would it be appropriate for her to ask a man who is sitting down if she might borrow his seat for a few minutes? Or must she leave the restaurant to find somewhere to sit down?

GENTLE READER: Even in a formal restaurant, Miss Manners would think that any gentleman would happily give up his seat, if only to avoid the glares that would follow from those watching a pregnant lady passing out on the floor in front of him.

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,; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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