Bad Advice On Ungrateful Waiters And Stolen Stoves

By The Bad Advisor

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Welcome to our latest Bad Advice column! Stay tuned every Tuesday for more terrible guidance based on actual letters.
Dear Carolyn: My daughter and son-in-law live an hour from us, and we meet once a month or so at a midpoint restaurant for dinner. I always enjoyed this time and thought it was a nice custom.
Recently I caught my son-in-law talking to our waiter, giving him an extra tip and saying something about how sorry he was for the table. The next day I called my daughter to see what that was all about, because my husband and I have very hurt feelings over the exchange.
She told me she doesn’t think my husband and I realize it, but our restaurant habits are not very thoughtful. I demanded specifics, and she told me that we split an entree and order water only, so the bill is really low. She also said we are demanding of the wait staff, which is especially bad because we aren’t giving the establishment much money to make up for it.
I am insulted by this. I don’t see how splitting an entree is rude. I also don’t see why I shouldn’t do what I want, that’s the entire point of a restaurant, to serve their customers. The customer is always right.
She also told me 20 percent is a standard tip. My husband and I tip 10 percent for normal service and 15 percent for good, maybe 20 percent if they washed our car while we were eating or something.
My daughter said she is sorry I overheard the exchange, but they didn’t know what else to do.
My husband and I don’t feel like we are dining incorrectly and that it’s rude for my daughter and son-in-law to correct our behavior behind our backs. I don’t want to meet up for dinner with them anymore and I can’t get over my bad feelings about all of this. Where do we go from here?
—Bad Restaurant Guest, Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, 24 May 2017

Dear Bad Restaurant Guest,

The only place to go from here is back to wherever the fuck you want, whenever the fuck you want, so that you can do whatever the fuck you want when you get there — without your daughter and her husband and their appalling contempt for the fact that you’re right all the time. But if you really insist on maintaining a relationship with your daughter despite the fact that she went out of her way to avoid even pretending to suggest that you treat others with the minimum of respect expected by humanity at large in the year 2017, you’ve got two problems to tackle: First, your daughter believes it is possible for you to make an error. Second, your daughter and son-in-law did not stage a loud public confrontation with you about your dining habits, which they should have done out of sheer politeness and respect.

You’ve got two problems to tackle: First, your daughter believes it is possible for you to make an error.

To number one: If someone tells you something that runs counter to the way you think the world should work, you can just ignore it, because you’re a customer. As a customer, you literally can’t do anything wrong in a restaurant as long as you’re happy with what you’re doing. If your daughter and her sneaky husband weren’t so reluctant to demur to your every demand, they’d see that. In fact, everyone would be a lot happier if they’d just obediently acquiesce to your needs in the unquestioning fashion you’ve come to expect from the servile wretches at your local Applebee’s. Customers are people, waiters are robots, and your daughter is a child. She must behave as such, or else you will refuse to eat with that meanie mean-pants ever again.

To number two: We will probably never know why your daughter and her husband attempted to quietly avoid any discussion whatsoever with you about the unthinkable possibility of your misbehavior, but they obviously lack respect for your authority as a person who eats in restaurants. If they’d spoken up in the moment, you could have had a loud and angry confrontation at Red Robin concerning the price of a hamburger like civilized adults. This would have enabled you to publicly brow-beat your child for her insubordination, which would have had the added benefit of providing a little lecture for any nearby servers with uppity ideas about feeding their children while you were at it. But they took that all away from you in a cruel and foolish attempt to eat dinner in peace.

Tell your daughter you’ll be waiting for her at your local watering hole whenever she’s ready to apologize for questioning your infallibility — but only if she doesn’t insult you by suggesting you leave the bartender a tip for your 5,109th ice water refill in hell.

Dear Amy: My two sons and I lived in one neighborhood for more than 20 years (we recently moved to a place nearby).
“Kate,” a young girl from the neighborhood, is getting married.
Another young woman from the neighborhood recently told us that, due to finances, the young couple will be paying for their own wedding and therefore are adhering to a strict guest list.
It’s apparent that we are not invited to the wedding.
We were all a bit sad when we heard this news. I completely understand their situation. I am, however, heartbroken that we got the news from a friend and not the young lady herself.
Amy, we have known her for almost her whole life! Why is she not acknowledging us?
I have not reached out to her myself, as I do not want to put her on the spot. I am just very sad, realizing that she does not care enough to acknowledge us at this milestone event in her life.
I realize that etiquette does not dictate that a future bride contact those who are not invited to the wedding. However, one would think that if there has been a close, long-standing relationship, that she could at least say something. Isn’t a small acknowledgment appropriate?
—Feeling Dissed, Ask Amy, Washington Post, 18 May 2017

Dear Feeling Dissed,

The very least this young woman could do, amid planning and paying for her own wedding, is send a personalized acknowledgment to everyone she would have invited to the other wedding she would have invited them to, were she not attempting to save time and money by planning and paying for her own wedding.

Many brides — and grooms, let’s be honest — fixate on the role they themselves play in their own nuptial ceremony without prioritizing how they can incorporate people who aren’t invited to their wedding into the wedding festivities in a meaningful way that honors the special role non-invitees play in not coming to weddings. It only takes a few minutes to reach out to every last person who could conceivably be remotely disappointed not to receive an invitation to any given wedding; many brides could knock this minor obligation out in a matter of months, if not weeks, if they took this responsibility seriously.

It only takes a few minutes to reach out to every last person who could conceivably be remotely disappointed not to receive an invitation to any given wedding.

Since you’re close with the bride, send her a card congratulating her on the wedding and enclosing a small guestbook she can place out at the reception so that the attendees can express their regret at your absence. (But don’t forget to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope in which she can return it to you before she leaves on her honeymoon! You don’t want to be a bother.)

Q. Stolen kitchen dreams: I’ve always loved cooking and design, so when I told my best friend about my dream stove, she must have known I really had a special place in my heart for it. Imagine my surprise when I found out SHE had bought my dream stove before I could save up for it! Needless to say, I felt incredibly betrayed. I’ve basically been giving her the silent treatment for the better part of a year. To make matters worse, she acts like she has no idea why I’m so mad at her! My anger and hurt have gotten so bad that our friends called a meeting for us to talk it out, but I don’t want to hear anything from her unless it’s an apology. What should I do?
—Dear Prudence, Slate, 5 June 2017

Dear Stolen Kitchen Dreams,

Pretend that everything is fine, just to get back in her good graces. Continue to discuss your love for design, and try to find out what her dream toilet is. Then, buy that toilet for your own home and take a big, elaborate shit in it. That way, you’ll have hurt her in just the same way that she hurt you.

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