DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a hostess in a family restaurant, and today I had a couple of young parents come in with an infant about 7 months old. I seated them in a lovely booth near the entrance of the restaurant.
To my dismay, they changed their baby's diaper right on their table. Then, they signaled me to come over, and when I arrived at their table, the woman held out the soiled diaper and asked me to dispose of it!
I said simply, "I don't have any place to dispose of your baby's diaper, but there is a ladies' room down the hall." She was obviously annoyed and said, "Oh, come on! Surely you can put it in one of the bus trays for us!"
I couldn't help myself, and so I answered, "We don't want your baby's soiled diaper in our bus trays; we cart dishes in those trays."
She became furious and demanded to speak with my supervisor. When she learned that my supervisor was not present, she demanded the phone number for the corporate entity that owns the restaurant, stating that she would make a complaint about me.
Miss Manners, how would you have handled her?
GENTLE READER: Without making physical contact.
Expressing concern for the health and hygiene of other customers and employees is perfectly reasonable, as long as it is done politely. If necessary, you can blame health department regulations.
Miss Manners would hope that any corporate entity would agree -- and assures you that she will be none too quick to frequent the establishment of one that does not.