Dear L. A.,
I was recently introduced to a man by a mutual friend. He seemed nice enough when he called and we chatted, so I accepted his invitation to dinner in a restaurant downtown. Halfway through dinner he removed his two false front teeth! I was totally grossed out. What could I have done/said?
Did this really happen or are you making it up? Did you leave out any pertinent details; for instance, did he order spaghetti? I have decided that when people are thoughtlessly rude, they won’t recognize it unless you are rude right back. A simple, “That is disgusting!” might have done the trick. A kinder approach, such as “Would you like the name of my dentist?” would have been another way to go. Signaling the waiter and asking for a table for one can only be effectively employed if you are planning on paying for your own dinner and have your own transportation home.
Dear L. A. Plume,
I went to a bar the other night and there were two unoccupied seats. When I went to sit on one, the man next to them said he was “saving” them for his friends who had not yet arrived. They were the only seats available. I think that is rude; what do you think?
I think he would have done better to pretend he was Elwood P. Dowd and told you that Harvey, his imaginary 6’3” Pooka rabbit, was actually sitting there. Seats in a bar should be available for the people who are present. You could have asked if you could sit there and order a drink until his friends showed up. He could have been chivalrous and given you his seat, but apparently he had no manners. The obvious solution would be to deftly and surreptitiously slip a fart bomb (google “fart bomb”) in his pocket and let him enjoy his own company.
L. A. Plume
Dear Ms. Plume,
I am well aware of the fact that this sounds petty, but it drives me crazy: people shopping in the grocery store who go wandering about, leaving their cart abandoned in the aisle while they choose something on down the way. The aisles are not that wide, and since I can only shop after work or on weekends, which are a busy times, that cart often blocks the aisles and makes a traffic jam. By the end of the day I just want to get my shopping done and get home. Any suggestions?
Visualize grocery shopping as a pleasant experience – think of the delightful meals you will create when you get home; pretend you are a great chef and this is simply part of the job; choose whatever scenario relieves some of the stress for you. Or remove a few items in the forgotten cart while the shoppers are otherwise occupied, and replace them with items that may be more fun. (Switch their decaf coffee for caramel truffle espresso; replace their mustard with horseradish, dill pickles for sweet.) They will either be extremely grateful for your opening up a whole new world to their taste-buds, or they mightlling keep a closer eye on their cart in the future.