Annie Lane: Friends have bad table manners

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Dear Annie: I recently dined out with three friends. The restaurant was very busy, and we waited for nearly two hours for our food. We were drinking and enjoying a band, so it wasn’t that bad.

I went to the restroom and was literally gone for three minutes. When I came back, the food had been served except for mine. My place-setting was empty. My three friends were chowing down and told me the server couldn’t remember what I ordered. And I was like: “What does that mean? Does that mean my dinner order was not placed? What is the server doing about it?” And they shrugged. I looked around for the server and didn’t see anybody.

The restaurant was extremely crowded and busy, and there were no servers in sight. I didn’t know how long it would be until I would see wait staff and was annoyed and a little panicked that I might have to wait two hours for dinner all over again.

Email newsletter signup

I got up and walked around the restaurant until I found someone to help. Turns out that my food was waiting for me in the kitchen all along, and it was brought to me. I was annoyed that my friends made no attempt to solve the issue in my absence but happily ate their own dinners.

One of them could have texted me or come to the restroom to say that food was being served. I definitely would have done this for any of them. All they did was eat their meals, which is bad table manners anyway, and let me fend for myself.

I was visibly annoyed for several minutes after, but I got over it and didn’t allow the incident to ruin the night. I think one of my friends is now mad at me because I was upset about the situation. And now that makes me mad all over again because this is a friend of mine who, in the past, has actually put our wine glasses side by side to make sure I didn’t have more than she did.

So, how does she deny me the right to have been angry that I had bad service? I feel they should have tried to help while the server was available. Again, I was gone for all of three minutes. I think I made her feel guilty for not helping, and that’s why’s she’s mad. Thoughts?

—Hungry in NJ

Dear Hungry in NJ: No one is perfect. You get annoyed with your friend about her pettiness with the wine glass, and she gets annoyed with you about being annoyed that your food might not have been ordered. It sounds like your friends were thinking more about themselves than about you. That can happen, and in the end, it is your choice to either accept their faults and try to focus on the good of your friends, or to relive your anger at one dinner. You would be a lot happier if you let it go.

“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book —featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette —is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to