Bad Manners 

Minerva discusses how to deal with a bad dinner guest

Dear Minerva:

I have a "friend" that I go to dinner with a couple of times a year. We've known each other for many years. She's a real go-getter and has been very successful in her life. I am happy for her success but every time we go somewhere to dine, I brace myself, because she treats waitstaff terribly. She recently invited me out for dinner and I can't bear the idea of going and having to secretly make apologies and leave appropriate tips because she is unable to be satisfied. How can I get out of this?

—Sincerely,

Fed Up

Dear Fed:

Nothing can change the mood of a dinner engagement than watching someone treat poorly the very people who are there to help you enjoy your experience. No amount of success can buy politeness and kindness. Waitstaff work very hard at their jobs. They are responsible for so much and take the brunt of complaints that are beyond their control. Even if something doesn't go right, it would seem to me that there is rarely cause for rudeness. Accept her invitation for dinner on the condition that she behave appropriately. Yes, this will require a difficult-but-crucial conversation. Explain that you'd like to spend time with her but that her mistreatment of waitstaff is no longer on the menu. This gives room for her to realize how she has behaved (on the off chance that she is unaware) and allow her to correct her behavior. Either way it works out, you'll know how to proceed. Cheers!

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