Miss Manners: Digital restaurant bill makes it hard to check for errors

DEAR MISS MANNERS: When dining out, it seems that the latest way for the server to take the order and present the bill is via an electronic tablet. I’m fine with the ordering part, but not with the billing.

First, in many cases, the server comes to your table and simply gives you an amount that you owe, and then stands there and waits for the payment. This can be awkward, especially now that many of us are using cash to avoid credit card upcharges, and the servers seem to get impatient, especially if they are busy.

Secondly, I like to review my bill before I pay it to make sure that I am not over- or undercharged (yes, I will tell the server when he or she misses something and undercharges me).

When I’ve asked for a paper copy to look at prior to paying, I am often met with rolling eyes and other subtle expressions of impatience. What is the best way to respond to this? You wouldn’t buy anything anywhere else without being able to see the entire price; why would a restaurant be any different?

GENTLE READER: The best way to deal with subtle expressions of impatience when you ask for a copy of the bill is to ignore them. The best way to deal with eye-rolling (which is not, to Miss Manners’ thinking, subtle) is to ask to speak with a supervisor.

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DEAR MISS MANNERS: Close to a year ago, I moved to Europe from Canada. I have a close friend who I have reached out to a few times since I left to suggest we chat online. I get a brief response saying, “We should do that.” No time is offered.

Most recently, she reached out looking for information that would help her in her business. I gave her the information she wanted right away and again suggested we find a time to chat. Her response again was, “Yes, we should do that.”


I decided then that the ball was in her court. I haven’t heard from her in three months now, and I’m a bit hurt. Should I just give up and assume we weren’t as close as I thought?

GENTLE READER: People do sometimes use such vague formulations to hide their ambivalence. But since you also never suggested a time, Miss Manners recommends you propose one lest your friend suspect you are also feigning interest.

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DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’m a 300-pound woman. I’m funny, friendly and intelligent. I went to a luncheon and was engaged in conversations with many of the strangers there.

One tiny, petite woman had finished part of her lunch and doggy-bagged it along with her dessert when she looked at me and said, “Oh, I was just going to tell you that you could take your dessert to go, but I see you’ve already eaten it.”

I was gonna say, “I’ll try not to judge you if you don’t judge me.” But that didn’t sound good to me. What would you say?

GENTLE READER: “Yes. It was quite good.”

Miss Manners does not dismiss the possibility that there was a criticism implied in what the woman said, but as nothing she actually said was rude, let us instead follow the policy of not looking for trouble.

Miss Manners | Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Miss Manners, written by Judith Martin and her two perfect children, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Marin, has chronicled the continuous rise and fall of American manners since 1978. Send your questions to