Miss Manners: I don’t like it when servers don’t write down orders

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have noticed that many restaurant servers take orders without writing them down. This includes orders with several exceptions, such as “no cheese, dressing on the side, veggies instead of fries,” etc.

This tends to make my husband and me nervous. The orders usually come out just right, but nonetheless, we await our meals with some anxiety.

When an order comes out wrong, and it had not been written down, would we be within our rights to withhold a tip (or at least to significantly reduce it)? I think it might be rude to ask a server to write down the order if he or she doesn’t want to.

GENTLE READER: Why are you looking for trouble? And ruining your meals by waiting in fear, especially when your servers often get it right?

Miss Manners supposes you can be inwardly righteous if they are wrong, but she urges you not to withhold a tip. Mistakes happen and can easily be made even when the order is fully and accurately transcribed. It is how the restaurant and server handle the situation that is the true indicator of good service, not the mistake itself.

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DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I do not speak the same native language. As he is very close to his large family, he spends a lot of time talking on the phone to them in his language.

As our marriage progresses, I am learning his language -- an endeavor he knows about and supports. In the beginning, he rightly assumed that I didn’t understand anything he said in his phone conversations. However, as I learn, I pick up bits and pieces.


I don’t know if I should assume he knows that I understand some of his conversations now, or if not, if I should tell him. As for the people he is talking to, do I have an obligation to let them know I am around? Or is that up to my husband?

GENTLE READER: When someone is on the telephone (or on any other one-sided technology), the polite thing for others in the room to do is pretend that they do not hear -- even if the conceit is comically transparent. That you previously did not understand what was being said on your husband’s calls made this ruse that much easier.

Your only obligation to your husband is to warn him that you now understand much of what he is saying. Miss Manners is not suggesting that your husband is deliberately keeping anything from you -- only that it would be jarring for him to have you ask, “What did you mean when you said we weren’t sure if we were going to the Bahamas this winter? I thought we had decided.”

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