The Commercial Appeal

No need for a middle man when dining out

- By Judith Martin

Dear Miss Manners: I am aware that while dining in restaurant­s, it is traditiona­l for a gentleman to give the waiter his own order and the order of any ladies he is eating with. What is the proper protocol for responding to the waiter’s follow-up questions, such as, “How would you like that done?” or, “I’m sorry, but we’re out of that item; is there something else you would like instead?” Should the lady answer those questions, or should she have her male partner relay the informatio­n?

Gentle Reader: It depends on how crazy you want to drive the waiter.

Many are young enough to be unacquaint­ed with this custom and will be rattled by it, fearing that the lady will be insulted that the gentleman is speaking for her, and that food is about to fly.

But, as you have discovered, even those few who do know about it will rarely keep it up by directing all questions to the gentleman. In theory, the waiter should ask him, for example, “How would madam like that done?” whereupon the lady would respond to the gentleman, “Rare to the point of bleeding,” and he would relay this to the waiter.

Miss Manners admits that this bit of theater is difficult to carry off with a straight face. So perhaps it is just as well to spare the waiter by switching to direct answers.

Dear Miss Manners: Is it impolite to call people by their last names in the United States?

Gentle Reader: Apparently. It implies that they are grown-ups.

Dear Miss Manners: I am an experience­d nanny of many years. Recently I have had jobs where family members hit each other. Sometimes it is the children slapping the mother’s face; sometimes it is the children bruising each other; and sadly, most recently, twin 7-year-old girls I work for began hitting me.

I don’t know what has changed, as in all my years, the No. 1 rule all parents seemed to agree on was No Hitting.

Would help me come up with a way to address this during the initial interview. I feel uncomforta­ble just saying, “Is hitting OK in your house?” I’m fairly sure they would say it isn’t. One explained she is a “tiger mom,” but then smiled as her child slapped her. How does one evaluate this politely?

Gentle Reader: You got a pretty good idea in the interview you describe, and Miss Manners trusts that you then informed the slapped tiger than you would not be a good fit in her household.

Without such a dramatic demonstrat­ion, you are unlikely to extract the proof you want by quizzing the prospectiv­e employer. As you notice, no one admits to approving violence. But you can state your nonnegotia­ble policy: that you do not tolerate hitting of any kind, whether between children and grown-ups or among children. You should then explain how you deal with children who disobey this rule, and say that you expect parents who hire you to support you if it happens.

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 ??  ?? Please send your questions to Miss Manners at missmanner­
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at missmanner­

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