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Opinion October 2016

The Old Gal

Important Deportment

By Anne Ashley

When the head chef returned to our table he was calm and collected and offering us a bottle of champagne, informing us that all our meals would be on the house (as opposed to on the guests) and that I should make sure I send them the bill for the dry cleaning. All was right with the world once more. Well, except for having to spend the rest of the evening digging wet food and leafy green things out of my cleavage.

I’m a sucker for good manners. I’ve always believed that even the most egregious of incidents can be resolved with graciousness and courtesy. Additionally, being rude can escalate an incident beyond all proportions.

For instance, I’ve had an entire meal dumped on my lap in a restaurant – and I do mean an entire meal! As the waiter was about to place the main course on the table in front of us, he inadvertently slipped, and launched a full tray of assorted hot meats, potatoes with gravy and vegetables onto my lap. I was literally covered in food from neck to knees – though I don’t know who screamed louder, me or the horrified waiter!

However, from out of nowhere, three other restaurant employees instantly appeared with damp cloths, dry cloths, club soda and profuse apologies. I had so many hands tending to the damage that I couldn’t tell the difference between their fumbling for errant meat and potatoes or mine. And the quick-fire response would have been hilarious … for the other patrons in the dining room. I didn’t see the funny side until much later … had I not also been preoccupied with trying to keep scalding gravy from seeping into places that scalding gravy should never go. All that was missing was sirens and flashing lights, such was their obvious readiness for these occasions. 

Nevertheless, what ultimately saved the calamity from being far worse, was the fact that the clumsy server was more mortified than I was at his slip up and didn’t stop apologizing until the head waiter finally dragged him back into the kitchen. As awful as it was being drenched in a banquet for four, the sincerity of the offender made all the difference.

Although, I have to admit, even though I couldn’t tell what language was being spoken (at volume) in the far regions of the kitchen, I could tell that someone was getting a strip torn off them for the blunder and that no apology, no matter how sincerely proffered was going to suffice.    

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no saint. There was a split second when the hot food made contact with my skin where I wanted to shout abuse at the clod and hurl the food right back at him – and had I not instantly recognized his discomfiture, I’m sure I would have.

When the head chef returned to our table he was calm and collected and offering us a bottle of champagne, informing us that all our meals would be on the house (as opposed to on the guests) and that I should make sure I send them the bill for the dry cleaning. All was right with the world once more. Well, except for having to spend the rest of the evening digging wet food and leafy green things out of my cleavage.

Anyway, in complete contrast, I’ve returned a house all because I was treated so disrespectfully by the realtor that I became determined to exact the ultimate revenge – despite the unlikelihood of being successful. I mean, who returns a house?! 

Had the agent shown even the slightest concern for the predicament we were in, I would have strived to work with him and come to a more beneficial conclusion for all concerned. But as it was, his rudeness and insolence caused me to dig in and sue his real estate agency to return our money and pay damages on top.

Incidentally, this too had a funny side … eventually.  When it became obvious to the agent that I wasn’t going to be intimidated by his bullying and outright denial of any misconduct, he attempted to shame my dear and long-suffering husband into taking over the negotiations by saying that he should be the one handling the battle, not “the wife.” To this day I still chuckle when I think of my husband’s response.  He calmly warned that it might seem weak to let “the wife” fight the battles but it’s going to be hilarious when “the wife” hands you your ass.  And I did!

Nothing irritates me more than unnecessary disrespect or rudeness. I can’t abide ill-mannered people. Being gracious shows good breeding, a clear indication of intelligence and sophistication. Rudeness however is the epitome of ignorance and small mindedness.

It might be old fashioned to expect courtesy and kindheartedness towards elders these days or to show politeness to strangers who hold doors open for you but I’d rather be considered old fashioned than new rude!

 

Be sure to follow me on twitter@anneashley57.

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