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by Abigail Van Buren

Lady Dining Alone Is Irked by Restaurant Staff Questions

DEAR ABBY: I am a retired lady who often eats alone in restaurants. When I arrive, the host or hostess usually greets me and asks, "How many?" When I reply, "One," the invariable response is, "Just one?" I find the question demeaning and rude.

I have responded with things like "Isn't one enough?" or, "If you prefer groups, I can go elsewhere." I have even mentioned to managers that it would be more appropriate if they trained their hosts not to say "just." Can you offer a better response I can give? -- PARTY OF ONE

DEAR PARTY OF ONE: I think you are handling the situation as well as it can be handled. Sometimes people don't stop to consider the implications of what they are saying. It's impolite for a host to ask, "Just one?" because in some cases the reply could be depressing and cloud the dining experience.

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics