Posts Tagged ‘social graces’

7th December
written by Steph
Last Friday I took the afternoon off from work, as Tony and I had a friend coming over on Saturday night and I had big plans.  I was making boeuf bourguignon, you see… And I realize that it’s not in good practice to test out new recipes on guests, but despite being quite labor intensive, I had all the confidence in the world I could pull the dish off.  Now, because BB takes so long to cook (the prep is really pretty easy, but the thing needs to be in the oven for a few hours), I decided I would make it on Friday night and then simply reheat on Saturday evening (as there were no guarantees we would be around for several hours Sat afternoon to start the cooking), and voila: effortless and delicious dinner the evening of!  However, Tony told me he was probably going to have to work late on Friday night, and if that meant him not getting home until 7, well, I didn’t want to have to wait until then to run out and gather the groceries and then start cooking, so we met up for lunch (always fun), and then I drove him back to work and then kept the car to do my errands. And so began my afternoon as a make-believe housewife.  I have to say that shopping in the middle of the day during the week is actually DELIGHTFUL.  I got a prime spot in the parking lot and the store was far less congested.  Pretty much it was just me, a few elderly people, and lots of housewives.  I was able to zip through the aisles with speed and ease, and all was going smoothly… until I approached the checkout.  Seeing as it was the middle of the day, there were only two cashiers open, and I had to choose between standing behind an older bachelor or an old lady.  I opted for the old lady, because I figured she was probably more well-versed with efficient supermarket checkout.  This was a HUGE MISTAKE. While it didn’t look like she had a ton of items, her final bill wound up being $118… and this was after she had spent about 2 – 3 minutes scrounging about in her change purse in order to find her coupons (many of them for a measly 25¢…) that saved her a grand total of $3.50.  SERIOUSLY.  I am all for bargain shopping (Tony was greatly amused the first time we went to the grocery store and I would swap out products for those just a few cents cheaper…), but I do that when there isn’t a huge line of people behind me!  Plus, it’s not like she didn’t have plenty of time to have these coupons in hand before her final bill came up!  She certainly had enough time to have an awkward conversation (loudly, natch) on her cellphone while her items were being rung up. And then, the icing on the cake of rage: SHE PAID WITH A CHECK.  People, I cannot tell you how enraged I get when people pay for things at the grocery store with a check.  Why do this? Clearly you have a debit card, and if for some reason you don’t have the funds in your account at that exact moment in time, you can still choose the credit option!  Seriously, WTF?!?  If you use a check, it takes aaaaages, because you have to fill the whole thing out, and then they have to see your i.d. (despite carrying a purse, hers was stowed away in her fanny pack), and what should have been a 30-second process has now taken 5 minutes.  Haaaaaaaate. Just in case I wasn’t clear enough, I will repeat myself for clarity’s sake: When grocery shopping, DO NOT USE A CHECK TO PAY FOR YOUR PURCHASES.  It is unforgivably horrible of you, and all the joking and bashful smiles at the snaking line of people behind you doesn’t make it better.  In fact, it makes it worse because all that time you spend “gee whizzing” over how expensive groceries are today and simpering about how you’re sorry for holding up the line just means you are wasting more of my time.  Here’s an idea: rather than feeling bad about holding up the line, how about you just don’t do it?  Gah! Needless to say, after that experience, my trip to the nearby wine store was a necessity… and I don’t regret walking out with three bottles when I only needed one! And because I know you were all wondering, yes, the boeuf bourguignon was a success, which did much to soothe my fiery rage (but clearly not enough that I felt the check/coupon incident was no longer a bloggable offense!).
6th December
written by Steph
We went out for dinner last night with a good friend of ours who this past week both successfully defended his PhD thesis and turned 30.  To celebrate him being both older and wiser, Tony & I asked if we could take him out for dinner and drinks yesterday.  His choice of restaurant was not a place either of us would have suggested had it been up to us, but seeing as it was his night, we went along with it.  I had mentioned in passing a few days earlier when speaking to this friend’s girlfriend that I didn’t know why anyone would ever go to this restaurant by choice as I didn’t like it very much, only to find out that apparently it was one of our friend’s favorites. In the end, although there wasn’t much on the menu to tempt me, both Tony & I found options that we were satisfied with and that ended up being quite delicious.  Unfortunately, this morning I received an email from my friend (who, being a grad student (although no more!), suffers from intense-guilt complex) saying his significant other had told him I didn’t like the restaurant, but thanking me for going anyway.  I was really upset that he had been told this, because even if we had agreed to go to the restaurant out of respect for him, I certainly didn’t want to feel as though we hadn’t enjoyed the evening or that we had sacrificed ourselves on the altar of his celebrations.  I shot him back a quick email saying that in the past I hadn’t necessarily been a big fan, but we both had a great time last night (food included), so he shouldn’t fret about it at all. Mostly, I’m peeved that his girlfriend shared this information with him, as I don’t really see the point in doing so.  We had already had dinner, so it’s not like we could go back and select a different restaurant.  I feel like sharing that type of information with him, even if it is true, only served to be hurtful as well as unhelpful.  I dislike this idea that seems to be embraced more and more often that so long as you’re telling the truth, then that is the only accountability you need for what you say.  I do not think that truth need always trump tact.  Sometimes it is more important to be kind than it is to be honest.  Of course, I don’t mean that one should avoid telling others things that may be painful for the other party to hear simply to avoid an uncomfortable situation, but I really wish more people would consider the ends they hope to achieve when speaking. As an aside, one of our dining party last night (the birthday boy had invited another friend to the festivities) is forever in my bad books for showing up an hour and forty minutes late without an explanation or even a genuine apology.  I understand not everyone is as adamant about punctuality as I am, and am willing to forgive unexplained lateness up to about 20 minutes.  If you’re going to be much later than that, I think you are obligated to get in touch with the other party if you can and inform them of this.  We showed up at the restaurant at 7, were told we had about a 40-minute wait for a table, and were seated at 7:45.  We phoned our dining companion, who was at this point 45 minutes late.  She said she would be there in about 20 – 25 minutes.  She showed up at 8:45.  I think this is especially egregious given that we were at a restaurant for dinner (a busy one at that), so no one felt comfortable ordering anything other than drinks until she had shown up.  Given how late she was, a courtesy phone call telling us it would be ok to go ahead and order without her would have been nice.  I know some girls like to be late to make an entrance, but maybe they ought to strive to do so before other people have made an exit!