Etiquette Hell = Where the ill-mannered deserve to go


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My boss is not really a bad boss and she is a generally nice person, which is why I think I was so shocked at the rudeness that she portrayed this past Christmas.  We have about 25 people that work in our office and during the holidays many of my co-workers like to hand out small presents.  Usually just something small that only cost a few dollars or that they made, and usually just the female workers do it.  It is also one of those things where you either do it for everyone or nobody at all because it would be rude to pass out gifts in front of everybody but them leave some people out.  Or at least this is what I thought.  Because I am still in school and cannot really afford to buy every person in the office something, I usually just make cookies and hand them out to everyone. 

So, one day right before we got off for Christmas, my boss calls me into her office to tell me something work related.  As we are talking she is writing on boxes of chocolate covered cherries (the ones that cost about a dollar from the drug store) "to: someone in our office" and "from: my boss."  It is obvious that this is what she is passing out as her present this year.  The year before she handed out earrings to the girls and something else to the guys.  I made sure to tell her thank you, and I also wrote thank you notes to everyone who had given my something, including her.  But this year, even though she had been writing on the boxes right in front of me and it was obvious what she was doing, I never received anything from her!  I watched her pass them out to other people in the office but she did not include me in this.  It really offended me, not that I really even wanted to candy, but for the pure fact that I thought it was just very rude of her.



This past New Years our group of friends decided to go out to eat before we went out that night. We choose a Mexican restaurant that we often go to for birthdays and different occasions because we all like the food, the prices and the service is usually great. We knew that because it was New Years Eve the workers probably hated being there, so my friends and I were sympathetic to that. So when things started off badly, we just let it go. But they only got worse as the night went on.

First of all, we were never given menus. Never. Isn't that standard practice at restaurants to seat you and give you menus? The only reason we finally got them, 20 minutes or maybe more into being there, was because one of my friends went and got them for us. A few of our friends had gotten there first and were seated but when the rest of our group arrived we were a few seats short. This wasn't the restaurants fault, but they made no offer to help arrange it so we would have enough seats. We had to go ask other people if we could have their empty chairs and rearrange our table to fit everyone.

Our waiter did finally take our drink orders ("oh yeah, did ya'll want something to drink?") but never once throughout the entire night did he refill ANY of our drinks for the rest of the night. I had a water in addition to an alcoholic beverage. When he brought my alcoholic beverage out it was not what I ordered and he never offered to fix me the correct drink nor did he apologize for bringing me the wrong drink. We ended up having to go to the bar to even get drinks because he hardly ever came by our table to check on us and when we did order drinks from him it took almost 30 minutes to get it to us. Might I also add that this restaurant was not at all crowded, so there really was no excuse for the waiter's slowness. He might have had one other table besides ours.

When our waiter brought out our food, two of the entrees were missing. Ten minutes later one of them came out. He didn't even realize that there was one still missing. He had to ask my friend what she ordered and then go look to see if they had made it. She had ordered some kind of a salad with chicken on it. When he brought it out it had steak on it. They did replace this right away (another waiter, not ours, actually did this), yet we still received no apology from our waiter for ANY of this.

I had ordered just queso to dip tortilla chips in because I wasn't that hungry. I did get my queso on time with the rest of the food, but no tortilla chips. I finally did get them later but I had to ask for them.

We were all very appalled at this waiter's actions and attitudes. We understood that working on a holiday is not fun at all, but at least try to make the best of it if you have to and don't be rude to your customers-especially if they are making the decision on how much to tip you!



I had left a job from hell and was interviewing with a nanny agency. The owner of the agency arranged to interview me at a local bagel shop (I don't remember why she chose that location). She was late to the interview. Then she spent the entire interview talking about an illness she had had in high school. Yes, really. She also took the time to tell me that some babies sleep better on their stomachs. (For the uninitiated, this is linked with a higher risk of dying of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and so daycare staff are FORBIDDEN to put babies to sleep on their tummies--but my answer was too "close-minded.") The interview ended. I never heard from the woman again. I can't say I was sorry. That was, to date, the most bizarre job interview I've ever had.



I'm not really sure if this is just rude to me or if others see it that way too.  In my office we have a supply cabinet in the copy room.  It is never locked and all employees have the right to go into it and get whatever supplies they might need at any time.  It has everything our employees might need and if there is something that someone needs but is not in there, then there is a pad to write down your request on.

I work in a cubicle, so my work space is not very private, but when I have things in my drawers or even just sitting on top of my desk space I do not expect them to be messed with or picked up by others.  To me, this is just a common courtesy.  Even though part of my job is to go into everyone's cubicle so I can bring them their mail and empty their outboxes, I would never touch anything else in their workspace.

So, that being said, when I leave in the afternoons I always felt comfortable just leaving things on my desk.  Not anything personal, just pads or post-its or pens, things of that nature.  However, one morning I came in and a brand new post-its pad that I had taken from the supply cabinet the day before was not on my desk where I had left it.  I thought maybe I misplaced it, so I just went to get another one.  That afternoon I left it on my desk and the next morning, again, it was gone!  It wasn't the fact that I needed it that badly or that it was a huge deal, but if someone in the office needed a pad they could have just gone into the supply cabinet to get it, like I did.  I found it extremely rude that someone would just take it off my desk.

I also have workers that will just walk into my cubicle, without saying anything to me, take one of my pens and a piece of paper from somewhere one my desk, use my desk to write something on it and then leave.  Once again, not a big deal if they would just ask.  Also, there have been times where I was on the phone, with a personal call, and co-workers have done this.  I understand that I can't expect total privacy when working in a cubicle, but I just think there are some boundaries that should remain uncrossed out of respect for others.



My mother and decided to have lunch at a very well known chain restaurant. We sat down, and the waitress eventually came to take our order. She obviously didn't speak English very well, and there were some communications issues throughout the order. It was completely wrong when she repeated it back to us, and she didn't even have a notepad with her to write it down on. It was not a big surprise, therefore, when we received the wrong meals. No big deal, we'd just ask her to change them when she came by. But she never did. We could see her through the kitchen door, talking to the chef the whole time. We were there for maybe an hour (we finally just gave up and ate what was in front of us), and not once did she come out of the kitchen, not even to give us our bill. We finally had to ask the cashier, whom we hoped would be more helpful. Nope. We told her about the wrong order (she didn't even give us a discount), and when we told her about the atrocious service, she just rolled her eyes and said, "Well, what do you expect?" Needless to say, we won't be eating there anymore...



My husband Simon & his friend Rob went to a Chinese restaurant for lunch one day. This restaurant they went to is one they have been to many times, but since this incident my husband has not been back. They had just finished eating & Richard's water glass was low on water. The waitress came by & asked him something (my husband has no idea what she said), but Rob was pretty sure she wanted to know if he wanted more water. He said, "yes" and she left to go to a table nearby. Simon isn't sure what she did @ that table, but he said she may have just been cleaning it up after some customers left. Well, after she finished with that, she moved on to another table. Customers had just left this table also & she picked up a glass that was half full of water (obviously someone had been drinking out of it). She then brought it over to Rob & Simon's table & dumped the remaining contents into Rob's glass. Obviously, Rob & Simon were a little stunned &, of course, Rob did not drink the rest of his water. They left shortly after this.



Racism is the ugliest form of rudeness, but many racists are subtle enough to mask their prejudices to some degree. Not the reception venue manager of a wedding I was at recently, of two dear friends of mine who are Indigenous Australians. The manager took one look at the flow of happy Aboriginal guests entering and offered to remove the cutlery from the tables as these guests wouldn't know how to use them. TO THE BRIDAL PARTY'S FACES. The fact that the bride and groom are both top notch barristers only underlined this person's ignorance. I give them credit for staying but myself credit for having this man fired. Seems my complaint was the last straw. It takes more to restore people's hurt feelings though, and as etiquette is essentially about regard for others, I took this to heart and hope Miss Jeanne will send the manager to Etiquette Hell Dimension 'Rudeness'.



I met my boyfriend (now of 6 years) in high school. We were both shy and never really talked much. At the time he was friends with a girl we'll call "Brooke". He was VERY overweight and Brooke was an attractive girl and he had a huge crush on her. Well she was the kind of girl who HAD to have a BF at all times. She would go out with a guy it would break off then she would go to my BF "Randy", with a sob story about how he's her only friend and she's so sorry and they needed to get together, which he would be ecstatic over, then when she would find someone else she'd dump him again (He to this DAY refuses to say bad things about her, even though he admits she's evil and conniving. All that I know I got from friends and Brooke's little brother.) Her little brother finally got fed up with how she was treating Randy and informed him of what she was doing. He was heartbroken. Randy and I had started talking earlier and become good friends and I started falling for him. But he was in a relationship and I respected that. I went out of my way to befriend Brooke, as I knew her from my high school job. I invited her to go shopping with me (Where all she did was bad mouth Randy and flirt with guys we came across), I took her on errands when her car broke down, etc.

After Brooke's brother talked to Randy, I let it sit for awhile. (God forbid I become the rebound). Long story short Randy and I got together and have been blissfully happy. However Brooke is irritated, that she no longer controls him. (This again is something that I've heard from mutual friends.) She made it a point to send me nasty IMs and emails and when I had her blocked, she looked up my number and called me from there, saying that I didn't deserve him and I was a slut. (Just for the record, Randy is the ONLY guy I've ever been with, and I'm happy to keep it that way.) Then she said that I was always saying nasty things about her, which I NEVER did, and when I asked what she was talking about she said "I don't want to mention any names." She then would go on to tell me about Randy's lack of prowess in the bedroom. She would call Randy up and tell him that I said all these horrible things about him and that she saw me coming out of hotel rooms with other guys, none of which were true, and luckily he didn't believe any of them. She kept calling him, and showing up at his church, and when Randy would go out with her brother (They were still good friends) she would invite herself along, making sure to bad mouth me all along the way.

Recently though I had gotten a new job, and was excited to cash my first check. As the bank the check was drawn on was in the same plaza as my work place I figured I'd just cash it there, get something to eat and then deposit the rest at my bank. I'm talking to Randy on the phone, signing my check, and when I get to the teller my face goes white as it's no one less than Brooke. I had gone out of my way to avoid her, not because I was scared or anything, but because I'm not one for drama. Seeing as how she was the ONLY teller, I just smiled and said Hello and she glared at me as she processed my check, put the cash in an envelope, dropped it over the counter, onto the floor and walked away. Inside I was seething, but I just picked it up and walked away, making a mental note not to come here ever again. I told Randy when I got home simply because I didn't want her to contact him and turn it into something it wasn't.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I was getting ready to leave when my boss asked if I could take the deposits to the bank. Inside I shrunk, but she was in a bind, so I agreed and when I got inside Brooke was no where to be seen. I let out a sigh of relief, and went up to the teller. At the counter I could see that Brooke was in the corner about 10 feet from me. I didn't respond to her at all, and once I saw where she was, I made it a point to look ONLY at the teller that was helping me, when I noticed that someone was standing behind her. It was Brooke. Hovering. The teller was handing me the deposit slip and Brooke said "Randy told me you weren't coming here anymore." I said "I just had to come here for work." She said "I'm just SAYING he said you weren't coming here anymore so maybe you should stop stalking me, before I call the cops." This is in front of the other teller who's suddenly looking at me like I'm an axe murderer. I just shake my head and leave.

I go to work the next day and my boss has a call from the "bank manager" that I'm not allowed in the facility any more for threatening their employees. As I'm a very laid back person my boss is floored by this and calls the bank manager back who never made such a call. Yeah it was Brooke. They asked if I wanted to lodge a complaint and I declined. The last thing I need is for her to get fired and blame it on me. Besides, she already has numerous warnings and strikes from other incidents with clients. Let her be obsessed with someone else.



After we got married in Las Vegas and had hiked up and down the Strip looking at hotels, my new husband was hungry so we decided to go to the 24-hour restaurant in our hotel for dinner. It was about 11:00 PM. When we asked for the non-smoking section, the hostess had us wait while she checked with the waitress in that section. The waitress looked angry but we didn’t know why. Anyway, we were seated and the lovely woman who was the “busboy” brought our drink orders. Then, she brought us refills and more refills. The waitress never came to the table and seemed to be missing in action. After 30 minutes or so, we asked the hostess when our waitress might be coming to take our order since we were really hungry by then. The hostess was astonished that we have not been served yet and went to find the waitress. She returned to say the waitress has clocked out and left! We asked to be reseated in an area with working wait staff. The hostess went to find the manager who came back to check out our story (like the hostess would make it up).

Finally, a really upset over-worked waiter from another section came over to take our order. To his credit, when we explain that we have been there for almost an hour with nothing but drinks, he was very nice and got our order to us as quickly as possible. He and the “busboy” got really big tips. I got the feeling that the other waitress would not be coming back to this restaurant.


I’ve been friends with “Sara” for many years. At the time, she ran a local business and I worked at a place that does advertising.

She had invited me to lunch one day to which I accepted since we hadn’t seen each other for several months. I asked the waitress for two checks but Sara immediately said “No no no. It’s a business expense”. That was awfully nice of her considering that’s not the Sara I know. Sara asked me a few questions about advertising as we dined but the conversation was mostly personal. When the waitress brought the bill, Sara looked it over and said “you’re portion with tip is $12.00”. She was going to write off the entire lunch as a business expense but still expected me to pay my part! I didn’t care to do many lunches after that. She no longer has a business and recently called and said we never do lunch anymore. We decided to meet later that week. Against my better judgment, I didn’t ask the waitress for separate checks. When the bill arrived neither of us picked it up right away since we were in the middle of conversation. I finally picked it up to see what my portion would be. As soon as I picked it up she said “Thank you for lunch…” I’m a single parent of two kids. She has a two income household!  I always assume it’s Dutch but she expected me to pick up the tab.


Another one:

I was at Applebee’s one night ready to dine with some friends. I was on a diet so I was looking at the low fat options. I wanted the Low-fat Chicken Quesadilla but after closing the menu couldn’t remember if it was non-fat or low-fat. I checked the menu several times making sure I ordered it correctly. When the waitress arrived with our food I knew something was not right. The cheese in the quesadilla was creamier than I remember it being. I asked the waitress if she was sure that this was the low-fat Quesadilla. Her response was “You didn’t order the low-fat”. When I told her that I remember very clearly ordering the low-fat she said “No you did not”. I was shocked that she would tell me what I did or didn’t do. I expected something like “I’m sorry, I made a mistake” or “I’m sorry, I misunderstood you”. She then rudely asked if I would like her to bring me a low-fat one (well, duh!! That’s what I ordered!). At first I said “No someone here will eat it” but then I quickly changed my mind and told her to go ahead and bring me a low-fat quesadilla AND her manager. The manager came over and said “I heard there was some trouble out here. I want you to know I will not be charging you for the appetizers you had tonight” Didn’t even ask me what happened. No apology for the waitress.



I have been a cat-lover all of my life, and when I bought and moved into my first house I was very eager to adopt a pair.  I went to the local shelter and found my two wonderful cats, Eva and Bo.  They were the most lovely little creatures and they were my constant companions, following me around like dogs and sleeping with me at night.    Valentine's Day rolled around and my husband took me on a surprise day trip to one of our favorite places.  When we got back, I noticed Bo was sleeping alone on the bed, which was strange because he and Eva were usually inseparable.  I had a cat door through which they could get outside, but they spent most of their time indoors.  When I walked into the kitchen I noticed a note taped to the window, and my stomach dropped.  It was a letter from a neighbor saying that my sweet little Eva had been hit by a car, and a local vet had been called to help her.  

Horrified, shocked, and praying for the best, I called the vet and left a message.  She called back after about 10 minutes, and told me the heart-breaking news: Eva hadn't made it.  Usually I am a very composed person, but I broke down on the phone, sobbing uncontrollably.  And now I will quote her response: "Yes, yes, it's too how would you like to pay for this?"  She went on to explain that she would accept Visa or American Express.   When I was able to speak again, I dug out my Visa card and gave her the numbers.  She asked about the remains, and asked what my cat's name was.    The next few days were very dark for me, filled with tears and a deep ache in my heart.  About three days later I get a piece of mail from the vet.  I open up the card and inside says, "We are sorry for the loss of ________."  In the blank, she had written "Eva."  A fill-in-the-blank sympathy card!  Can you believe such things exist?  Needless to say, I would never choose to use her services after that, and I hope she has lost lots of business from how many times I've told this story to people in our community.    


Page Last Updated July 30, 2007