DEAR MISS MANNERS: I don’t know how to deal with the rude comments I occasionally get from restaurant waitstaff about how I eat -- specifically when I eat quickly, or eat everything on my plate.
I’m not overweight, and I’m male, so they may feel it’s OK to tease me when they probably wouldn’t do so with an overweight customer or a woman (as I’ve always been taught that it’s the height of rudeness to comment even obliquely about a woman’s weight).
So given my appearance, coupled with the “We’re all friends here” attitude you get in most restaurants, it feels like servers consider me fair game for this ostensibly innocent joshing.
But to me, it feels like they’re saying I eat like a pig, which I find both embarrassing and infuriating. Just this morning, when a server came to clear my table at breakfast, she paused to look at my plate and said approvingly, “Very good!” as if I were a child. I’ve also gotten, “You must have been hungry,” and “Wow, that was fast!”
For the record, yes, I do tend to eat fast, and yes, I do tend to eat everything on my plate. But that’s not the server’s business, and it’s certainly not appropriate for them to comment on how I eat the food I’m paying for. But I never know how to respond to these comments in a dignified way that also lets them know that their comment is inappropriate and hurtful.
GENTLE READER: You’re not all friends there. They are paid to wait on you, not to critique your eating habits. But yes, Miss Manners knows that the boundaries are often violated.
The tactful way to counter intrusive teasing is to take it seriously. “I’m sorry -- am I going too fast for you?” and “Good? Yes, the food was good. May I have the check, please?”