You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Archive for April, 2013










Truly…I thought the “cell phone talking” in the grocery line was at the top of my list.  You know, the person who stands staring at the same can of beans for 20 minutes while holding a long personal conversation as you try to negotiate around his/her basket to get your can of beans???  Ever notice how the offender smiles nicely and steps away just a bit, but then continues on with their conversation – until a second shopper needs something in the offender’s invisible  territory box?  You’ll notice the offender get a little put out now because, after all, you are invading their “talking space” and they ARE trying to have a conversation!  At this point, the offender moves about 3′ down and begins staring at another product he/she doesn’t intend to purchase…and the dance begins again.  At least I have the option to navigate around this person, and quite often, I will say “excuse me” and point right into the product that I need to purchase.  Of course, I’ve interrupted their very important conversation so I’m not usually met with a gracious smile. 

On the other hand, topping my list now, is the REALLY OFFENSIVE act of people sitting in medical offices waiting to be called in or waiting on a family member.  Seriously, I was at my son’s orthodontist recently when a woman came and sat 2 chairs down from me – talking on her cell phone from the time she entered the office until….well…until I could no longer read in somewhat of a quiet environment and had to move into another back area of the medical office to escape the intrusion. 

Honestly, remember when the doctor’s office was a quiet place where you could catch up on reading?  Sure, there may have been a few crying kids that were sick, but you had sympathy for them; and the occasional coughs and sneezes that penetrated the stillness, were only moments for you to exercise your good manners and give the usual “Bless you” or “Gesundheit” – and back to your reading you would go. 

I am just amazed at the lack of respect some people have for those around them and particularly, for those that work at the reception desk?  They have work to do.  They are on the phone making appointments, looking up information on the computer, talking to pharmacists, checking out parents….all the while having to listen to an annoying ongoing conversation by someone who apparently thinks their business should be EVERYBODY’S business.  

Is it that difficult to step outside and finish your conversation?  I mean, it’s not like we are EVER in below-freezing conditions here in Southern CA….and even if one does live in such a place and season where it is…then if it’s TOO DARN COLD to hang outside chatting up with your friend, then it’s not THAT URGENT!   After all, no one minds the brief moments of someone on a call who is politely ending it as quickly as possible – showing obvious respect for those around them – but to just ignore everyone around you…and air your dirty laundry???  Okay, maybe it’s clean laundry, I don’t really care.  I just don’t want to hear it.   

Maybe I should start a campaign like the non-smokers did.  “Second hand cell communication causes irritation to the nerve endings”!

Okay, I got that off of my chest – and I see no point in listing several tips for good cell phone etiquette here.  There are posts on this blog that already cover that.  It’s pretty simple.

Hang up and read. 

Ps:  Don’t get me started on bathroom stalls!

waiter serving from right









The question of wait staff serving the guest from the left or from the right seems to be a bit controversial in the dining etiquette industry.  As many of the schools and consultants teach “service from the left” and “clearing from the right”,  the Culinary Institute of America, the Federation of Dining Room Professionals, IBGS (International Business and Gourmet Standard of Hospitality) and top culinary schools such as Johnson and Wales all subscribe to “service and clearing from the right”.  

Much of this controversy may have its roots in a flawed translation from the early 1900’s “French Service”, as you will see explained further in this post.

In a recent conversation with Bernard Martinage, Co-Founder of the Federation of Dining Room Professionals, I was enlightened by his very thorough answer to my inquiry regarding this subject.  The following is directly from Mr. Martinage and I thank him for shedding light on “the bottom line”.  After all, the bottom line truly is the guest’s comfort, but it makes sense to me that in most cases, this will be accomplished by “service and clearing from the right”.

Bottom line is . . .


  • If you are a traditionalist in service: you put down a plate by the right and pick it up by the right.
  • If you are a modern waiter with good common sense: you put down a plate by the right and pick it up by the right.
  • If you want to go by the flawed translation of “French Service” which is routed in a training manual written by Hilton in the early 1900’s, then you put down a plate by the left and pick it up by the right, which requires:

Waiters to be perfectly ambidextrous, which consequence is as follow:


  1. It is unnatural for 90% of the population to use the right hand as a support hand and the left had for complex manipulations.
  2. Common waiters end up service by the left with the right hand, sticking their elbow in customer’s face.
  3. Customers never know which way you are coming from. 


Just think about this:


  • Why do we serve wine by the right?  Because the glass is on the right side.
  • Why is the glass on the right side? Because people drink with the right hand.
  • Why do people drink with the right hand? Because the right hand is the operating hand.
  • Why do we serve plate by the right?  Because EVERY SINGLE book you will find shows how to stack plates on the left hand using the right hand . . . just as a beverage tray . . . just as you hold a pad in your left hand and write with your right hand . . . just as you hold a bottle with the left hand and operate the corkscrew with the right hand . . . just as you hold your steering wheel with the right hand and operate your stick-shift with the right hand . . . .etc . 


You will notice, easily, when going to establishments that require their staff to put down plates by the left, than more than half the time the waiters do it using the right hand . . . because it is so impractical.


The question you must ask yourself is . . . Why do it one way versus the other?  And if the answer is not clear and logical . . . then it probably is flawed.


Slowly but surely, the US is adjusting service to reflect international standards, because they make sense, are fast and smooth, and effective.


If you go to a restaurant in Paris, Montreal, Tokyo, London, Singapore, Caracas or Geneva, you will find that everyone put plates down by the right and picks them up by the right.


Because, however, the US suffers from that misinterpretation mentioned earlier, and because we respect the culture of all origins even when not justified (as long as they don’t interfere with the guest’s comfort) we Prefer that people serve by the right and clear by the right, and we Tolerate that people serve by the left, as long as they do it with the left hand in a smooth, elegant and balanced manner.  We, however, Require, that when someone takes our practical examination, that the technique is performed by the standard the world goes by (including top restaurants in the US such as The Bernardin in Manhattan or Commander’s Palace in New Orleans.

So…there you have it.