Life is full of etiquette blunders — some small and inconsequential, some large and egregious. We were all raised differently, with varying ideas of what’s “polite.” We recently posted a story about a woman who was invited to dinner at her friend’s place and then received a surprise Venmo request for the penne alla vodka she ate. It got us thinking about other manners missteps, those idiosyncratic things people do that make you go Hmm, that’s weird right? I’m pretty sure that’s weird.
So we asked you to share the worst etiquette faux pas you’ve experienced. Did anyone ever throw you a baby shower then send you a bill? Demand you pay for sodas and hot dogs for your friend because his dad bought the baseball game tickets — when you were eleven? Just how bad is it out there? Buckle up and let’s find out.
Sampling food — and then putting it back
Adding another layer of wrongness to the generally accepted rule of “no double dipping,” commenter Lars Vargas has high hopes for 2022 tells the story of a person who lurked around a restaurant buffet and helped herself:
“One time we were there eating in a mostly-empty place, and a young lady came in and was alone at the steam tables taking a look. The staff and owner were in the kitchen. The young lady grabbed something from one of the trays, looked at it, took a nibble, and then put the remainder back in the tray. I immediately spoke up quite loudly and asked her, ‘Did you just taste something and put it back?’ All eyes on her and she sheepishly grabbed the partially eaten food and left. The owner came out as she was leaving and I told the owner what happened. The owner took the whole tray and threw it out, thanking me for making a scene.”
Attending wedding meetings…when you’re not invited to the wedding
This one’s a twofer. Not only is this a tale of (unexpectedly) attending a meeting for a wedding they were not invited to, it also involves a plea for cash. Panthercougar elaborates:
“Many years ago a couple who were barely acquaintances invited my now-wife and I out to a local brewery. We didn’t have anything else going on and we love beer, so we figured hey, why not? What they didn’t tell us was that they were going there to meet with the DJ they had hired for their upcoming wedding…We were not even invited to their wedding…After we finished up at the bar they…asked if we wanted to pick up sliders; we thought that part sounded fantastic and said we did. They proceeded to ask if we could pay because they were broke…We ate our burgers and got the hell out of there.”
The foot-in-mouth friend
They may mean well, but there’s something about those friends who can never seem to say (or do) the right thing. Lifehacker reader PKA-323 had one such “friend” in her group (we’ll call her Tammy) who managed to foul up numerous occasions.
“When my friend Amy had a miscarriage, Tammy said to her, ‘Wow, I hope there’s nothing bad wrong with you so that you can’t have kids.’
“When my live-in boyfriend broke up with me right before Christmas (shortly after my dad unexpectedly died) citing my depression and ‘lack of sex’ as his main concern, she said to me, ‘Well, he just had bad timing.’” Is that all, Tammy — just bad timing?
And during a group get-together, “At the end of the night, she got very drunk and announced that she had been planning to stay overnight at my house all along (was not aware of this). My other friend, Megan, had already previously asked well in advance to stay in my guest bedroom so that was taken…Tammy says, ‘That’s fine, I’ll just sleep in the bed with you.’ We are grown-arse women in our late 30s, people. I said, no, you won’t, no one sleeps in my bed besides me and the occasional man I bring home.”
She sent her to the couch, which she complained about. Moral of the story? Don’t have a friend named Tammy.
Babies without bathrooms
More than one reader had an unfortunate story about a baby being changed too close to where food is consumed.
4ster offered this anecdote: “My then-girlfriend and I were eating dinner in a fast-food chain called Boston Market when we looked at the table right next to ours, like a foot away, and a woman had her baby on the table changing his poopy diaper. On the table, in the centre of the restaurant. She had a friend with her who looked at me and said ‘I don’t, I don’t, I…I…I…don’t know this person.’”
Barry Land told a similar tale of a woman who, having been told that she couldn’t bring her baby into a Las Vegas casino, opted to change him on a table in the nearby restaurant. “The busboy in the restaurant sprayed down that table and booth like he was cleaning up a nuke spill, muttering, ‘This kind of shit makes me want to go back to prison!’”
Bringing food to holiday dinners…that no one can eat
It’s generally accepted that food you bring to someone’s house for holiday dinners is for everyone — meant to be consumed in a communal, shared fashion. Not so for a guest at PhoebeCaulfieldTheThird’s holiday feast — she details the actions of her sister-in-law’s former boyfriend, who was a “real dirtbag.”
“One Thanksgiving they came for dinner after stopping by his mum’s for a quick hello. Mum had made his favourite pie for him so he showed up with that in hand and asked me to refrigerate it. I was impressed that he hadn’t showed up empty handed. After dinner, I put out all of the desserts, including that pie and announced that everyone could help themselves. Dirtbag was incensed that I had put ‘his’ pie out with the other desserts. It was something to the effect of ‘Why would I be OK with everyone eating my pie?’ I told him that he seemed OK with eating my turkey and that sharing food is how Thanksgiving usually works. He let the pie stay out but I don’t think anyone besides him ate any of it.”
When you fail to follow unwritten rules
Today in needless sanctimony: A story from pwatters about a toilet lid.
“My grandmother always told me that the worst breach of etiquette is pointing out someone else’s breach of etiquette, but I did it anyway. I’m at a beach house we rented with a bunch of friends when one of them calls me out for not putting the lid down on the toilet after I used it…she’s decided it must have been me…maybe it was. Not the seat, mind you, the lid. Her mother told her a lady always does this; did I not want to be a lady? After several minutes being harangued in front of friends about her ladylike qualities, I spit out my grandmother’s sage words.”
I mean, granny was right. But sometimes you just gotta let people have it.
Rehearsal dinner debts
So many things can go wrong at celebratory events when hundreds of people come together to drink — some of which happen before the main event even takes place. Kuzmatic recalls, “I was a member of a wedding party once and invited to the rehearsal dinner. At the end of the dinner the bride’s father stood up and said, ‘Let’s split this evenly. Put your credit cards on this plate (which he then passed around.’” Rude to be sure, but it runs in the family. Turns out the bride had once “invited us to their place, and put the grocery receipt on the table to show us how much our portion of the surf and turf cost. P.S. I’m allergic to lobster.”
STH writes, “My partner and I spent a weekend in another city so he could meet up with his buddies for a sporting event. We were invited to a couple’s house for breakfast the following morning. We show up at the arranged time to find another couple is already there and ‘Sorry, we already ate all the food we made.’ They offered us coffee and said, ‘I guess we could give you a bowl of cold cereal?’”
Perhaps most shocking, they weren’t immediately dropped from the friend circle. “And just to be clear: All the folks involved are super nice and I’ve seen them several times since. They were obviously embarrassed by their faux pas, but I still don’t understand why they didn’t make more food when they ran out.” Us too, STH. Us too.
Being a wedding no-show
Wedding RSVPs are serious business; when the cost of each guest can run between $US50 ($69) and $US200 ($278) (or more) per person, it’s essential to know who can make it.
AtomicSnowman invited his oldest friend to his wedding (whom he hadn’t talked to in six years due to his joining a “pseudo cult”). “I called him to be 100% certain that he and his wife would use the spot. We had very limited seating and I needed a hard commit…Well, wedding comes along and he doesn’t show up. I check his FB a couple days later and see that the reason he couldn’t show up was a ‘serious lifting session.’”
Inviting yourself to a wedding…and being a lush
Lifehacker reader BKB shares another serious wedding faux pas — this one with long-term consequences. “A friend of mine was getting married and had invited another friend of mine. Something happened at the last minute and he wasn’t able to make it so his brother invited himself instead. His reasoning was ‘no need for them to waste a plate of food they already paid for.’ Then he got drunk, stupid and draped himself all over the maid of honour who introduced herself by opening her mouth and tapping on her teeth before saying she couldn’t feel them because she was so drunk.”
“He went back to my place with my roommate and then banged the maid of honour in my bed. Four months later they got married. Five months later they had a little girl. Then there was years of petty drama, affairs, divorce, and ugly custody fights. When that little girl turned 20, I shared with her the delightful story of a rude man who went to a wedding he hadn’t been invited to, and how it related to her very existence.” How’s that for happily ever after?
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