Q. My husband is 100 percent disabled. When we go to eat in a restaurant, which is not often, is there some way I can diminish the stares and comments from fellow restaurant customers?
He must be fed, and we try to do it in the least noticeable way.
Usually, we order the same. I cut up my food, and then switch plates with his. Sometimes we must ask several times for a straw. (He even needs a straw for his wine.) I would appreciate any assistance you can give to inform the public and waiters and waitresses.
A. Staring at strangers, for whatever reason, is incredibly rude behavior. It is also rude for waiters or waitresses to ignore customers' requests.
You rightly state that you do not want to be conspicuous (which would only further embarrass your husband), and Miss Manners trusts you do not want to exhibit rudeness of your own. But neither do you wish to be the target of rudeness.
What you need for other customers who are rude is a Cold Counter-Stare of Inquiry. When your husband isn't looking, fix your attention on whoever is staring at him, and raise your eyebrows as if to say, "And what, pray, do you want?" The other person will flinch, blush and turn away, perhaps having learned the lesson for good.
If you are not seated comfortably, or brought what you need, at least after a reasonable interval and perhaps one reminder, there is a service problem that should be brought to the attention of management.
Q. I've worked with this woman for four years, and I always thought that she was quiet and liked to keep to herself, because when I passed her and said hello or good morning, she never returned the greeting. However, the one day I said hello and a male coworker said hello to her also, she completely ignored me and gave him a big cheery hello. After talking to other women at work, I found they have had the same experience with her. She falls all over the men in our building, and is discourteous to the women.
I'm not going out of my way to be nice to her anymore, since all she does is stick her nose up to me and the other women. Do you have any suggestions?
A. What Miss Manners has, first of all, is a request. Please do not allow this person's bad manners to become your standard. Saying good morning is not going all that far out of your way to be nice, and Miss Manners does not think you should stop. In fact (now we get to the suggestion), you might say it all the louder and cheerier when a male colleague is around. If she continues to ignore you, her bad manners will become apparent to him, as well.