DEAR MISS MANNERS: I had two friends over for lunch, and as I was in the kitchen gathering up the food, they seated themselves at the dining room table (not where I would have put them). I brought in their two salads.
When I returned from the kitchen with my salad and the bread, they where already chowing down. I went back to grab the entrees and again, before I could return with mine, they were plowing through their pasta. And ditto for dessert.
As I was eating my dessert, they got up and took their plates to the kitchen. When they came back to the dining room, they pushed in their chairs and started to leave. I was still eating. I asked, “Are you leaving?” They replied that they needed to return to work.
What the heck? I was at a loss to say anything. I didn’t want to embarrass them, but I thought their manners were really out of line. What could I have done to slow them down in a gracious manner?
GENTLE READER: Not invited them on a workday. Miss Manners hardly excuses the rude behavior of your friends, but clearly they were in a rush. If the timing could not be helped, setting the table beforehand, waiting until all three plates were ready (and then asking for help in bringing them in) or even bringing the serving dish to the table might help.
But if they are used to restaurant service and making quick deadlines, perhaps next time you should suggest fast food instead.