Q: We were at a business dinner, lots of people, 10 to a table. Six of the 10 worked together. The other four of us didn’t know any of them. The program began with the usual introductions, prayer and then the meal was served. Very noisy, which is to expected with a large crowd.
Two of the six spoke to the four of us occasionally during the meal. Some individual presentations began shortly after dessert. At most tables, there were occasional quiet comments. However, this lady who was one of the six began talking incessantly to the couple next to her with animated arms and throwing of her hair and laughing. She was so distracting, it was difficult to concentrate on what was taking place on the stage.
Is there a proper way to intercede in a situation like this to get a loud person to shut up? Neither my husband nor I could even catch her eye because she had her chair turned to this couple. She was too far away to be able to say anything to her to get her attention without making a scene. It was embarrassing, although the five she worked with seemed to be able to ignore her altogether. Amazing!
A: This lady was a very rude person indeed and an unfortunate tablemate. In visualizing the situation you described, you had little choice but to endure. She obviously broke all the basic etiquette rules for being a proper tablemate.
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Q. A couple of my girlfriends and I go out occasionally for a “girls night out.” We may go to an advertised shopping event or a movie or a bar. We always have a glass of wine or two. Twice now, one of them has run out of money after the first glass and has turned to me with this, “Uh-oh, I forgot to put more money in my purse. Could you ... (with that helpless look)? So, I have bought her drinks. She says thank you, of course, but then has not offered to repay me at any time since when we have been together. We’re going out again soon, so what do I do if she tries this again? Can I ask her to pay for my drink since she owes me?
A. I suggest you not lower yourself to her level by asking her to buy your drinks. To do so might elicit an unwanted conversation. Put that episode behind you as a learning experience.
I do suggest, however, you take small bills with you rather than large bills, and pull the small bills out of your purse as you are ready to pay for your drink. If she pulls the same trick, just politely say, “I’m sorry, I didn't bring that much cash with me tonight.”
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.