OT: I need an objective second opinion…on a totally idiotic fixation.

A tiny thing happened before Christmas that has been intermittently bugging me ever since.  I’m hoping my pals here will give me some impartial feedback.

So here’s the thing:  I went out to dinner with a large group of aquaintances.  The degree of relationship between the diners varied from family members to close friends to very casual acquaintances.  The restaurant was what is commonly known as a “supper club” in these parts…steaks, chicken, seafood, not fancy, but not Burger King either.  As is customary, once we were all seated, the waitress placed baskets of bread on the table.


I was seated about at about the middle of a long table, and in the midst of genial chatter, I heard a bit of a kerfluffle from the end of the table to my right.  One of my dining companions, let’s call her Clueless, had taken the basket of table bread and proceeded to finger every last piece in it…”I want a warm one,” she said as people gave her the WTF?! look.  Now, I am not a germaphobe or particularly rigid about table manners, and I didn’t want any bread in the first place, but I was sorely tempted to get up, take the bread and dump it all on her plate….I ordered another drink instead.  Her complete lack of comprehension that this was rude still irks me..a month later.  The problem is, I can’t gauge how much of my irritation is coming from the action itself versus my general attitude toward Clueless, the bread fondler.   I told you it was idiotic….any thoughts?

33 comments on “OT: I need an objective second opinion…on a totally idiotic fixation.

  1. jazzbaby1 says:

    Was this a “straw that broke the camel’s back” incident? Like, could your continued irritation be just everything getting under your skin? I’ve had plenty of those where I’ve overlooked major issues and the thing that I actually confronted someone about was a small thing.

    • obscura says:

      IDK…this was slightly more egregious than her usual MO, but it’s hard to isolate. I generally can get along with pretty much anyone, but this woman gets on my very last nerve every time I see her – which is weekly.

  2. micra1 says:

    You are totally right. It was a rude and inexcusable lack of politeness. Nothing to add. I had once a similar (well, perhaps worse) experience. We were in a Chinese Restaurant, me, my sister and some colleagues of hers (University Professors). Well, one of this person used his personal (and already used) chopsticks to pick food from a common tray. We were motionless, only one lady put up a scene, creating big embarrassment on the whole group. I don’t know who upset me more.

    • obscura says:

      I think maybe what is a major part of the annoyance was that she wasn’t at all apologetic about it. Everybody flubs up, but most people have the grace to own it, especially when someone calls them on it (my mothers did in this case), but she just doesn’t get it.

  3. guylty says:

    For a moment I thought you wrote “Germanophobe” there…
    No, I am totally with you. Sticking you finger into each and every roll is as good as sneezing all over them. Apart from the germ issue, it is also egotistical to the max, claiming the bread for herself and making sure she gets the best piece. As a rule, you always take the piece of bread nearest to you, or you pick the one that lies on top so that you do not touch any of the other slices. Actually, as a rule, if *you* want a piece of bread from the basket and can’t wait, you take the basket and offer it around, and only *then* you help yourself. That’s polite manners.

    • obscura says:

      You know, this wouldn’t bug me at all if it were a family dinner, or something like that…I’ve been know to toss dinner rolls down the length of the picnic table, and it’s not the hygiene thing either, but that “it’s all about me” thing. This probably contributes to why I have a hard time working with her…which I doubt she’s ever noticed. (The eye rolling is getting pretty bad, but I can blame it on my new specs 🙂 )

      • guylty says:

        Have you tried doing the same sort of thing with her?
        Anyway, I do not blame you. Although I probably would have said something along the lines of “Will you order a fresh basket for the rest of us now or do we have to do it ourselves?”

    • Leigh says:

      I agree. Even in the middle ages, when you shared tableware, this would have been poor manners. Appallingly rude to think she had the right to touch all of them just because she wanted a “warm” one!

      • obscura says:

        I am all for casual dining (I’m sure I ate French Fries with my fingers at this same table – totally culturally acceptable in this context BTW) but this crossed beyond “casual” for me and her apparent nonchalance about it was effectively like being flipped off to me. I suppose that is at the root of it…I am forever telling my kids that I will put up with a lot, but displays of rudeness, selfishness and greediness are definite out of bounds for me.

  4. Joanna says:

    Disgusting hug! Yuck!

  5. Marie Astra says:

    Do you think you would have felt better saying something to her? I understand why you wouldn’t want to make a fuss, but things usually bug me more when I haven’t addressed them. She was definitely out of order there. Sounds like she’s someone who would irritate the heck out of me too!

    • obscura says:

      Maybe. The problem is myriad in this case because she is about my mother’s age and I’ve known her since I was a child, so I have this sort of natural inclination not to “speak out of turn”. I suppose it’s a product of that point in life when you are now “peers” with people who used to be your elders.

      And yeah, this is not an isolated incident.

  6. Perry says:

    I’m with you Obscura, about germs and selfishness. It sounds like some of your companions said something to her.I hope someone did and that someone asked for a new basket of warm bread to be delivered because someone at the table touched them all. I guess the Purel went to waste.

    • obscura says:

      You know, the whole evening was like a scene from a National Lampoon film…I stepped in a slush ball and drop my sock donation on the way out of the car. Seeking some liquid fortitude I encountered the slowest bartender in the western hemisphere..although she did charge me less for a top shelf mixer than my friend paid for a glass of Riunite. I was really thirsty for some reason, and since I didn’t want to gulp down my glass of white lightning cut by a spritz of tonic and squeeze of lime, I also ordered a glass of water which also turned out to be an annoyance. Despite having two reservations of 15 and assorted other walkins, there was only one server working, so everything was super slow, including the arrival of water. We hadn’t been sitting for 3 minutes when I see Clueless pointing to my water glass saying, “Why do you have water? Where did you get water?” FFS, I make my own obviously…I catch the busboy to fetch some water, he comes back like 10 minutes later with a vessel in the shape of a pitcher but the size of what we would call a glass in my house – One – for a table of 15. “We’re going to need a few more of those,” I say as I pass the “pitcher” down to Clueless. And on, and on and on. First no lettuce, then no plates on the salad bar, no spoons for the soup…what a debacle! Given the circumstances, the odds of actually getting new bread precluded anyone asking for more I think 🙂 (ergh – this place was my suggestion!)

      • Perry says:

        It does sound like one of those awful restaurant experiences, and when you’re the one who suggests the place, you take it on yourself. I didn’t realize clueless was your mother’s generation. That changes things on how you feel comfortable reacting.

        • obscura says:

          Yeah, suffice it to say that I will not be going back – I can’t see them staying in business long…there are a lot better places to eat around here in the same of slightly lower price range.

          The age difference does really give me pause…I wouldn’t think twice about calling out someone closer to my own age. OTOH, I also don’t think she gets a pass and more than I would allow my daughter (who was also at the table, under strict orders NOT to paw the table bread) to do that.

  7. Marybeth aka "MoMbeth says:

    ..I would have picked up the basket, smiled my biggest smile,and said to her,pleasantly but firmly, eyetoeye, “Oh! now this basketful is yours and we know NOT to bother them ,so we’ll get another basket for the table. Does anyone else want their own basket?” Firm, direct ,not angry or rude, but ..said. If she asks, ‘Why?” you may answer “Because you touched all of them.” Then you can move on and let it go…..

    • obscura says:

      Welcome, and thanks for commenting!!

      You know, as I reflect about it further, it becomes clear, that were it anyone else, I would have acted very much as you describe and forgotten about it. I think what’s really bugging me is that this is just the latest in a long line of clueless behavior, and because of the circumstances it’s likely to continue…the “repeat offender” is a big challenge for me 🙂

  8. AgzyM says:

    This reminds me of the TV/theater debate I have every so often. We spend a lot of time staring at the TV, shouting at the screen etc. that some people have forgotten it’s inappropriate behavior when you’re actually among others watching a live performance.
    It’s that moment when you forget you aren’t home alone and start shifting your boxer type knickers from their dangerous g-string state in public.
    I think this woman probably forgot that what we do at home isn’t appropriate in, say, a restaurant and no one wants her palm sweat over their baguette…
    Could be worse. I once invited 2 college friends to meet up with my usual crew. They were the only ones to drink booze and eat. When the time came to split the bill they pretended like it had nothing to do with them and the others ended up having to chip in to pay for their feast. That was embarrassing!

    • obscura says:

      Yeah, there is that element to it, but she is pretty predictable in her lack of awareness to the common sense thing as a rule…

      Ugh! I hate the splitting of the bill…especially difficult if someone is deliberately dodging. Thankfully this was all separate checks, because based on past experience, we would have been haggling…

  9. I’m a pass around firster, so by the time I get the bread it’s probably all been touched. However, I’m also the one who would say, “take the whole basket, we’ll get another. I’m sure you’ll find the warm one at the bottom if you dig far enough. Would you like the softest butter, too?”

    • obscura says:

      Yeah, it really wasn’t the reality that she had touched it (in a practical sense, I’m not very bothered by that given that everything my kid has tasted and doesn’t like regularly ends up on my plate) but that she clearly felt completely entitled to do it and didn’t care that people (her friends) were rather disgusted.

      I am a huge fan of the “solicitous” suggestion, but honestly…completely lost here. (I have attempted it in the past 🙂 )

  10. saraobsessed says:

    Sounds like it is time to put together an anonymous newsletter on appropriate dining behavior for Ms. Clueless and friends. All the excepts (e.g. Martha Stewart, Miss Manners, Dear Abby) inserted and attributed, and mailed to several at the office/hospital or neighborhood etc. including yourself which you can bring “the copy mailed to you” *cough* to the next Supper Club meeting just in case it needs to become a topic of discussion again. Either she was never taught manners or she has an issue – drinking, drugs, control, jealousy, gluttony. Ugh.

  11. Sue B says:

    Nope, that’s gross. I’m not a germaphobe either, but eating something someone else has touched gives me the heeby geebies. I’m a mom of two, and won’t eat the food off their plates.

  12. katie70 says:

    Having read the post and comments this person was rude and had no manners. That said we chew out the students who dig for a different color tray at school due to the germ thing. I have also talked to students about touching other students food on there trays. If it bothers a student then yes it should bother an adult. As for the germ thing I tend not to trust many, after all you don’t know where hands where before. She could have been picking her nose or something, I did see a high schooler do that before being served lunch. Sorry to gross anyone out.

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