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Miss Manners: Appeal to hostess when left spoonless

Dear Miss Manners: What is the best way to get one’s needs attended to in a restaurant? I have known people to rattle silverware in a glass if being ignored by wait staff, but that seems demanding and disruptive to other customers.

The person who delivered our dessert, besides not bringing silverware, evidently didn’t understand my husband’s friendly, “Now we just need something to eat it with.” Our waitperson was out of sight, and all other employees ignored waves and attempts to get their attention.

I finally got up and approached the hostess, who was in conversation with another employee, and whom I may have offended by gently touching her shoulder as I said “Excuse me” and asked if we could please have some spoons for our dessert. I certainly got unpleasant body language from the employee as she spoke to the hostess, saying she would take care of it.

The hostess pleasantly brought us some spoons. It had been an unappetizing and annoying wait while we hoped silverware would appear, and I felt I was intruding when I finally made my request.

Gentle Reader: It is indeed rude to bang on the tableware in hopes of attracting attention. Miss Manners supports your direct appeal to the hostess, although she does not share your judgment that sarcasm directed at servers is properly characterized as friendly behavior.

Don’t push your own ideas

Dear Miss Manners: A very good friend is getting married shortly and is planning a reception for approximately 75 of the couple’s family and closest friends. The food will be served buffet-style where guests will serve themselves and then sit at tables to eat. Two of the tables have reserved seating for the “most important” – everyone else is to seat themselves. We will be seated for approximately one hour. I have suggested to my friend that she might make her guests more comfortable if she were to plan a seating arrangement, but she is adamantly against it, saying that everyone can sort themselves out. Do you agree that assigned seating in this case would be a good idea, and if so, am I doing my friend a favor in suggesting it again? Or should I butt out? Many of the guests will be coming without a partner, if that makes any difference. And in case you are wondering, I am at one of the assigned tables.

Gentle Reader: But were you assigned to push your own ideas after they were rejected?

This column was co-written by Judith Martin’s daughter, Jacobina Martin. Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, or to her email,