Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The Man Eats Like a Pig

Bless her heart, Miss Manners answers the specific question that a male letter writer asks. I know you expect more from this blog, so I will evade the question and make an observation. 

The man in question apparently eats like a slob. Or a pig, as you prefer. Waitpersons tend to remark on his appalling table manners, in a good humored way. They are certainly ridiculing him, but for all you and I and Miss Manners know the man might be deserving of ridicule.

From the letter we cannot definitively discern whether or not he is eating alone, but one suspects that he is. If you eat like a pig you are more likely to be spending more time eating alone.

Here is the letter.

I don't know how to deal with the rude comments I occasionally get from restaurant waitstaff about how I eat — specifically when I eat quickly, or eat everything on my plate.

I'm not overweight, and I'm male, so they may feel it's okay to tease me when they probably wouldn't do so with an overweight customer or a woman (as I've always been taught that it's the height of rudeness to comment even obliquely about a woman's weight).

So given my appearance, coupled with the "We're all friends here" attitude you get in most restaurants, it feels like servers consider me fair game for this ostensibly innocent joshing.

But to me, it feels like they're saying I eat like a pig, which I find both embarrassing and infuriating. Just this morning, when a server came to clear my table at breakfast, she paused to look at my plate and said approvingly, "Very good!" as if I were a child. I've also gotten, "You must have been hungry," and "Wow, that was fast!"

For the record, yes, I do tend to eat fast, and yes, I do tend to eat everything on my plate. But that's not the server's business, and it's certainly not appropriate for them to comment on how I eat the food I'm paying for. But I never know how to respond to these comments in a dignified way that also lets them know that their comment is inappropriate and hurtful.

Apparently, he is easily triggered. The waitstaff hurts his feelings, poor darling that he is. Miss Manners offers a couple of possible quips to offer in return, but the truth is, these waitpersons are trying to help the poor pathetic pig out. They are using ridicule in an appropriate fashion to let him know that the reason he is eating alone is that he has no table manners.

One understands that the psycho therapy culture has declared war on shame and has declared that shaming someone is the worst thing you can possibly do to them. It isn’t. In some circumstances ridicule can be an effective way to point out to someone that he has committed a faux pas. It shows him how he looks to other people. The waitpersons are trying to help the poor slob. And he, not wanting to be helped, and refusing to recognize that he has no manners, thinks that the only thing he needs is a witty repartee… to show that he is too dense and too proud of his boorishness to change his deviant ways.


UbuMaccabee said...

According to Saul Bellow in "Ravelstein," Allan Bloom ate like a pig. Food all over the place, on the floor, on him. Allan Bloom contributed the definitive translation of Plato's Republic and wrote three great books: Closing of the American Mind, Love and Friendship, and Shakespeare's Politics (with Harry Jaffa). We could use more pigs like that.

Ubu the Rain King

sestamibi said...

Sorry but you're wrong this time. Waitstaff are there to take orders, serve food, and clear away the dirty dishes and otherwise act professionally. It is just as rude for them to make comments about patrons' eating habits as it is for the patron for being a slob. Keep in mind that he's paying for the privilege.

On the other hand, depending on the circumstances, it would not be out of order for other patrons to bring his habits to his attention.

Sam L. said...

I take it this guy is unmarried, and unlikely to ever be. Is bummer, yes?