Q. A couple of my girlfriends and I go to lunch every couple of months at different restaurants we pick out. Last week was an interesting experience. When the waiter came to our table and brought water, he handed each glass to us with his fingertips and thumb on the top rim of the glass instead of holding it in the middle. I shuttered and I guess my face showed what I was thinking.
One of my girlfriends asked me what was wrong and I told her how unsanitary it was to serve a glass of anything the way our water was served to us. Her suggestion was to use my straw and it wouldn’t matter. The four of us got into a discussion about the entire subject and I wound up getting up from the table to go talk to the manager and asked that all four water glasses be removed and four more be brought to the table and served in the correct manner. Two of my girlfriends said they were totally embarrassed by what I did. I could have asked the waiter to remove my glass, which I think would have been more embarrassing for everyone, because I would have explained why. I saw my girlfriends watching my every move and expression on my face throughout the rest of the meal anytime anything was served. Nothing more was said about it, but I felt a little uncomfortable. Did I do the right thing?
A. Yes, your reaction and your action were correct. Servers should never serve any beverage by touching the rim of the glass. That is very unsanitary and improper. Your choice of not embarrassing the waiter in front of all of you was very considerate. Your choice of talking to the manager one-on-one was correct. The manager can then reinforce the proper method of serving beverages, not only to the particular waiter you had, but to all of his serving staff. After all, maybe this waiter had never been taught how to serve beverages properly, and just maybe the manager learned something new as well. The results: positive for the waiter, the manager, the restaurant, future customers and your girlfriends.
Q. A girlfriend just told me she has terminal cancer. She doesn’t live near me so I can’t go visit with her. I have been trying to figure out what to do for her. I’m definitely going to call her more often, but I am thinking I want to send her some flowers. Would that be appropriate or would she feel like I am sending her funeral flowers already? What would I say on the card?
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A. Sending flowers to someone at any time is a wonderful, thoughtful, uplifting thing to do. It does not matter if the person just got a promotion, moved into a new house, broke a leg or has just found out she has terminal cancer. Flowers always bring a smile. Flowers are beautiful and joyful.
Keep the note on the card short and unemotional, such as: “To brighten your day and let you know I am thinking of you.”
Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Lifestyle Editor Patrick Kuhl, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.