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She Was Rude!

My husband and I went out to dinner last weekend with one of our daughters as well as my mother-in-law who was visiting. The Chicago restaurant I chose is a well-established casual American eatery with a California beach vibe. I was very much looking forward to a relaxing meal and a glass of Chardonnay, after a stressful day.

When our waitress delivered our drinks, she brought my wine in one of those cute little one-serving jugs. I love that, as it allows me to pour a little at a time into my wine glass. Not sure exactly why I like that so much. Same when I order a Diet Coke and they bring it in a can. I like to pour it myself, a little at a time.

After I watched our waitress pour all of my mother-in-law’s Prosecco jug into her glass, I asked her to let me pour my own. She looked at me and scoffed, “You don’t trust me to pour your wine?” I was taken aback but let it go, thinking, maybe she’s joking or is being a little sassy.

I did tell her that we were ready to order, hoping she’d come back to us after delivering the remaining drinks on her tray to the table next door. But she ignored me, didn’t respond, and didn’t come back to us, instead checking on other tables.

After 10 minutes or so, I caught her walking by and repeated that we were ready to order, and she said, “I heard you the first time.” This time her tone could not be mistaken for joking and was certainly less than friendly.

I said, “You didn’t respond so I didn’t think you’d heard me.” She walked away, then my husband saw her talking to a colleague and pointing over at us. This new waitress came over and said she’d be taking our order.

By now I was fuming.

I am always very friendly with waitstaff, knowing how hard they work (and having been in their shoes once upon a time). But I felt this woman was being downright rude to me.

I had visions of confronting the waitress (“Did I do something to offend you?”), speaking to the manager, or docking her tip, but I refrained from any of this. And she handed the bill to my husband, which was smart! Maybe I held back because my daughter was there, and I could tell she was embarrassed by the whole interaction. Maybe it was because our waitress was pregnant, and may have been especially exhausted.

I tried to extend grace, and assumed she was a good person who was having a hard day, like me. Why make it worse all around?

Still, the exchange left me feeling pretty crappy. Saying something may have been overkill, but not saying something felt like a copout too. A no-win situation. I had to sit with my feelings and trust that over time, they’d dissipate, which they did.

YOUR TURN: Have you ever struggled with whether to speak up or not when confronted with rude behavior? What’s your advice?

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12 Comments

  1. Monique

    Yeah, she was out of line. I like to communicate my dissatisfaction at the time so we can all learn from it. I would have said something, even if it was on my way out. You weren’t wrong to avoid confrontation, though. Maybe she was having a bad day, but she didn’t have to take it out on you all.

    Reply
    • Hélène

      I get what you’re saying, for sure! How are we to learn if we aren’t given feedback? Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  2. Sue Morris

    I have been in this position before. It was so frustrating, I wanted to confront the bad behavior but my family told me to let it go. Rudeness is the worst in my book. On my way out of the restaurant I asked to talk to the manager and shared my feelings with her. I did not want to be silenced. Even if she thought I was crazy … I didn’t care.

    Reply
    • Hélène

      It’s so hard when the people around you want to stay quiet because of their discomfort! Thanks for sharing your story.

      Reply
  3. Sally

    I’m pretty comfortable (now) with calling out issues. I’m sure my family will tell you there are DOZENS of stories of me speaking up when feeling slighted/neglected/treated rudely. But I always speak respectfully and explain how it feels to me/from my perspective…”I’m sure that’s not what was intended” but how are we going to resolve this situation? The classic was a Thanksgiving dinner in NYC. We were 8 people, some of them friends of Rebecca that I had just met. It was a set menu served family style. So the problem was that we were getting the same portion size as the table next to us with only 5 people, one of them a young child. The appetizer, when cut into 8 portions, was exactly one bite. ???? I didn’t want to “cause a scene” at our table or point out to the others that there was a problem (because maybe we just get what we get) so I excused myself to “use the restroom” and find our server. I could tell she knew exactly what was what. She wouldn’t look at me or come in my direction as I stood near the hostess stand. I asked the hostess to speak with a manager who was as nice as could be. I told the manager that I was embarrassed that I had invited all these people to dinner and there was so little food, what could we do to have more food–would I have to pay more or something? And of course she immediately said they would rectify the situation, no of course you don’t pay more. And they did–we started receiving doubles of all the dishes and it was a comfortable (not too much) amount of food. I had no beef with the server (because I had assumed this was not her doing), but in the end, two other people ended up being our servers. The truly funny thing is that after I left the table, Rebecca had told the group, “oh she’s not going to the restroom”. So my family knows me well.

    Reply
    • Hélène

      What a great way to handle a tricky situation, well done! And yes, I love that Rebecca knew what was what. Thanks for sharing a great story!

      Reply
  4. Karen DeBonis

    Being treated unfairly–for example, if I’m being polite and a person’s behavior is essentially accusing me of being rude–is the worst feeling! I love Sally’s approach above–respectful and kind, assuming both parties will want to work out the problem. I need to work on this

    Reply
    • Hélène

      You and me both! I hate feeling misjudged or misunderstood and feeling powerless to change it. Thanks for sharing your feelings!

      Reply
  5. Denée King

    Yikes! I can’t say what I would have done in that situation. It’s the ones that catch us off guard that we, so often, react and regret it! You, however, chose to pause. I think you did the right thing. For me, I know that I do best when a situation needs to be resolved and I write a note or email. That way I can be sure that I’m not reacting but responding. I love that you allowed for something going on with her (a pregnant girl) that no one really knew. Grace is always best!

    Reply
    • Hélène

      Thanks Denée! It was a tricky situation for me for sure.

      Reply
  6. Lauren

    I would have said something. How rude and then she turned it on you? Um, no.

    Reply
    • Hélène

      Right? So hard to figure out what to do in the moment. Thanks for reading!

      Reply

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