Miss Manners: Waste not, want not — even dining out

February 9, 2012

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My family went out to dinner and really enjoyed the variety of delicious breads that were served in a breadbasket at the beginning of our meal. Between the four of us, we finished the basket, and after our meals were served, the waitress replaced the breadbasket, filled with more of the delicious bread.

Since we also enjoyed our meals, the second basket of bread didn’t get eaten. We asked the waitress if we could take the bread home, and she said yes and gave us a take-home container.

In the past, when faced with a similar situation, we had been dining with friends who considered it rude and tacky to take home more than we could eat at the restaurant if we didn’t pay for it. We disagreed: The waitstaff throws out uneaten bread anyway for sanitary reasons, and we didn’t want the bread to be wasted.

Were our friends correct in thinking it was rude, or is our family right in wanting to save the bread from being thrown away?

GENTLE READER: Accompaniments to the meal are indeed intended to be consumed — or not — on the spot. But as you made a special fuss about the bread, rather than merely sweeping everything into your pockets, Miss Manners will defend you as flattering the restaurant, rather than fleecing it. She supposes you could also have put a decent cover on it by asking for a birdie bag.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My son is invited to spend time in the home of one of his classmates. The classmate’s parents request that I sign a release of liability before my son arrives. I think this is unbelievably rude — as if to imply that I would sue them if there is an accident or injury!

Am I overreacting, or has our society really come to believe that anyone who visits your home, and is injured, will sue?

GENTLE READER: Well, there is an awful lot of suing going on. But that is all the more reason to be wary of people who harbor anticipatory litigious thoughts about their children’s playdates.

However, that is not the only worry that Miss Manners would have if she were you. What goes on in that household that such a precaution is necessary?

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a young, 20-something man who works directly with the public. Recently I had some work done on my right eye, which required the use of an eye patch for a few days. How should I respond to curious strangers who ask, “What happened to your eye?”

My response has been on a few occasions, “My name is John, and yours?” to call attention to the fact that the inquirer doesn’t know my name but is demanding my medical history. One woman even went as far as saying, “I’m a doctor. Tell me about your eye.”

Although I appreciate the offer for free medical advice, my doctors are more than proficient. Help! I’m starting to be rude about it.

GENTLE READER: No, no, don’t do that, when you can, instead, say, “You are kind to be concerned, but I’ll be fine. Now what did you come here about?”

As for that unprofessional doctor, Miss Manners would have said, “But I can see well enough to know that you are not MY doctor.”

Visit Miss Manners at her Web site, www.missmanners.com, where you can send her your questions.

2012, by Judith Martin

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