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Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Office Ladies' Room Doesn't Need a Bathroom Monitor

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was at a restaurant where the first attempt at my meal was burned. When its replacement didn't appear for another 45 minutes, I asked for the order to be canceled.

The people with me -- who had already eaten all three courses of their meals! -- were screaming at me (literally) that I couldn't do that, as it was rude. Is it rude to cancel an order under those circumstances?

GENTLE READER: Strange things happen to people who patronize restaurants, Miss Manners has observed. They have etiquette panic attacks, out of fear that their servers may sneer at them.

And so they may, as do other workers who deal with the public. But it is only at restaurants that the patrons seem to care. Of course they should behave well at any business, but only restaurants frighten them.

You ordered a decently cooked meal to be delivered in reasonable time. When that expectation was not met, of course you could cancel the order. You would do so in dealing with any other business, and restaurants are businesses that sell meals.

There was ample evidence of rudeness at your table, however. It came from those well-fed people who screamed criticism at you.

Read more in: Abuse | Etiquette & Ethics | Miscellaneous