November 28, 2007

Civility, How We Miss Thee

OVER AT DEAN'S WORLD, Celia Farber wrote a nice post on the utter lack of civility which she encountered in two particular instances -- one recent, at a New York bookshop, the other at a restaurant. The first instance involved Mrs Farber bringing in books to sell at the store, in which she felt she was treated rudely by both the first employee she met and then the book-buyer; the second involved an experience with a rude waiter, who was so over-the-top in his incivility that she and her husband departed from the restaurant without settling the check.

Almost comically, this post has received a wealth of relatively snarky and rude comments.

While I do believe she and her husband ought not have walked out on the eatery -- she dropped payment off later -- I think it would certainly be appropriate in such a situation not to tip the waiter. I have only not tipped a waiter twice in my life and in both cases it was due to the overbearing wretchedness of the men in question. Normally, even with atrocious service, I'll leave 10 percent, because that's message enough; I typically leave 20 percent, and one time in a fit of generosity I even left a C-note. But if the service is truly rude and obnoxious I see nothing wrong with stiffing a waiter at a restaurant to which I'll never return.

As for the situation with the bookstore, I think Mrs Farber was right to complain about her initial reception, although I think she read too much into the book-buyer's attitude. That's just commerce, and the proper response would have been to haggle over the offer made. Still, I would have been furious had I received such an initial response upon entering the store and particularly contemptuous in return. Given that, I thought she handled the situation rather well.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at November 28, 2007 10:26 PM | TrackBack
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