Dear Annie: I have gotten to the point that I no longer like to go out to eat, especially if it is a restaurant that my wife and I have not gone to before. Here's why.
You have a great meal in a nice restaurant. The service was friendly and excellent. When the check comes and I put my money down for the waitress, she says as she picks it up, "Do you need change?"
This ticks me off to no end. I have, in the past, gone through the trouble to try to educate the servers, in the hope of breaking them of the habit. So I explain to them that you never, ever put the customer on the defensive by insinuating that he is cheap for wanting change from the bills he put down. The servers I explain this to sometimes understand, but most of the time, they do not. They just think I am some senior citizen who complains a lot.
I usually retaliate by leaving a small tip instead of the 20 to 25 percent that I would do otherwise. (I try to tip big because I know how little they make hourly.) Depending on how you and your readers look at it, I think I will leave a copy of my letter and your response along with the tip in the future. — Frustrated in Maine
Dear Frustrated: True, it's not the best etiquette on a server's part to ask whether you want change. But I think you're looking at this in the wrong light.
You're assuming that servers are insinuating you're cheap when they pose this question. I highly doubt that. Sure, there may be some servers out there who would use such tactics to try to shame a big tip out of customers. But most servers are more polite than that — and more intelligent. (Why risk offending someone precisely at the moment you want him to feel happiest with your service?) I find it more likely they're oblivious and just trying to save themselves a 30-second trip back to your table. In either scenario, a smile and a "yes, please" are the appropriate response.
But if I hear a convincing case against this, I'll print it here for you to clip and keep at the ready in your wallet.
Dear Annie: I have a friend who is planning to have her wedding at a lake next year in a state where neither she nor her fiance lives or has relatives.
Her plan is to hold a very small (with about 10 people) private ceremony, to be followed by a reception with about 150 people.
My question is: Is this proper? All the guests are coming from out of state. Shouldn't all the guests be invited to the ceremony? I don't feel it's my place to tell the bride-to-be what I think, but I'm disappointed. I always look forward to the actual wedding ceremony more than the reception. Is that just me? — Confused Guest-to-Be
Dear Confused: Yes, you're right that typically, everyone would be invited to the ceremony. If anything, I've seen more weddings where the reverse is done — where more people are free to come to the ceremony than the reception because of budget constraints. (How generous of this couple to want to include everyone in the free dinner and drinks part!)
For whatever reason, the bride and groom want to keep the ceremony private. It might not be the traditional choice, but it's their choice.
Don't take this as your being excluded. It's still important to them that you all share in this day. It sounds as if they're looking at the party not merely as a reception but as a celebration of their love in its own right. That's special. Have fun.
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