General Etiquette > Life...in general

How to politely handle a negative person

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boxy:
Recently we had a disastrous dinner at a restaurant with some new friends.  The husband, Dave, was unhappy with the place because we were the only patrons (it was past the dinner hour), however, after assuring him they were still open he calmed down.  His wife, Jill, however was so incredibly rude with some of her comments that I didn't have a clue what to say or do.  I was like a deer caught in the headlights and completely unprepared.

She started an argument, which became very loud, with Dave over what they should order.  My husband and I were ready so while they bickered we placed our order.  I joking said, "Hey guys, time to make a decision."  It slightly worked as they stopped arguing with each other and turned to the server with several questions about dishes (we were at a foreign food restaurant).  They were very rude as they demanded to know what was in Dish A as opposed to Dish B and so on.  With great drama they finally placed their order.

Our appetizers arrived in a timely manner, looked great, and tasted fantastic.  First words out of Jill's mouth:  OH GROSS!  THIS DISH IS GROSS!!!!!  I CAN'T EAT THIS!!  IT'S GROSS!

I felt horrible because this was a small mom-and-pop place and her loud voice could clearly be heard in the kitchen.  Finally her husband shushed her.

The main course came and was even better than the appetizers.  Jill continued to make snide comments that the meat was probably dog or cat and the cheese was probably made from snot.  It was horrible.  She was horrible.  I made the comment, "well, that description doesn't really help, but it kinda tastes really good" or something along those lines.  It was lame on my part because it only worked a little.

Dessert came and to me it was perfect.  It was something I'd never had (plantain stuffed with sweet black beans) and I thought it was amazing.  Jill's comment?  OH MY!  THAT'S GROSS!  THAT'S THE MOST DISGUSTING THING I'VE EVER SEEN!  IT TASTES AS BAD AS IT LOOKS!  I'VE HAD ENOUGH, THIS PLACE SUCKS!

Okay Ehellers, needless to say I will not ever again go to a restaurant with Jill, but there had to have been something I could've said, or done, or I don't know.  I was just so shocked that she behaved like that - especially since we don't know each other very well.  It was horrible and my husband and I left a huge tip for our server and he mentioned to her on our way out that we were embarrassed by our friends but truly enjoyed the food.

Any tips for what I might have done better?

Julian:
Wow, you didn't mention Jill was only 3 years old.  Crikey, what a performance!

Seriously though, it sounds like you did what you could.  Jill doesn't sound like she'd shut down easily.  And that's not negative behaviour, it's just plain rude.  A tantrum, effectively, from an adult in public. 

That's one little SS I'd be severely curtailing my contact with.

guihong:
No advice, but I think those two are ex-friends.  They will be obnoxious in or out of a restaurant.

bloo:
Honestly I don't know what you could have done to salvage the night. Jill completely ruined your evening. Since they were new friends you had no way of knowing they'd act like this (Do they have blood sugar issues? Oh who cares?). You tried your best to counter her jerkiness with niceness. It didn't work because it sounds like she's a jerk.

Unless you're very comfortable with telling her, "Your constant whining is ruining my experience, knock it off" or boxing up your meal after the appetizer disaster and saying, "We'll bring our food home and finish our meals there. You guys have a good one," like no one I know would be comfortable and fast enough on their feet to do - I think you just have to do what you're already doing.

Which is writing off that evening as a train wreck and never dine with them ever, ever - I mean, like...EVER again.

gramma dishes:
You say they are "new" friends.  Sounds like a really quick friendship from beginning to end!   ;D

Seriously, most of us go out with our adult friends to get away from our children for an evening, not to spend the evening with two great big giant new children! 

I have to say though, none of my KIDS would have ever even THOUGHT about behaving like that in a restaurant!   :o

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