Crude Rude

23 Jul

Letterbalm Rude Restaurant CustomerDear LetterBalm: I have a friend who acts condescendingly toward people in service positions. He can be very rude, and it embarrasses everybody around him. He corrects them, tells them how to do their job, orders them around, rolls his eyes – you get the picture. And, when he looks like he’s actually in the wrong (mistaken about the wine, for instance), he gets angry, calls for their boss and threatens to have them fired. My friends and I need to make him stop this once and for all. He’s a know-it-all with a thin skin and a temper. But believe it or not, he can be kind and extraordinarily generous.

–Cringing at the Table

How do you continue to be friends with this prince among men? Does he pick up the check and treat you to fine wine or cigars? Does no one speak up for the poor harassed service person? To quote humorist Dave Barry: “A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter is not a nice person.” There’s another adage that says you can judge a person’s character by the way he treats people who can’t do anything for him. Humiliating a waiter or a customer service person – especially over a small mistake or unintentional offense – is the worst sort of unkindness. It’s a power trip that marks someone as insecure and a bully. He sounds like he has few redeeming qualities. If you tell him off, your friendship is probably over, and Ms. L.B. says only you can decide how far you want to go. A few of you might talk privately with your friend but understand that it’s likely he’ll start yelling and won’t think your words apply to him:

Mort, we’ll make this quick. I know you think you’re a great guy – and, in some ways you are because you can be very generous. But until you change your behavior toward waiters and customer service people, you’ll always be an insecure bully. You’re a smart guy. Why is it that you have to show superiority over people in service positions? You act condescendingly, you harass them, you tell them how to do their job, you call for their bosses and threaten to have them fired. Does this make you feel good? Did someone lord it over you and that’s how you think you are supposed to treat people, especially those in junior positions with fewer resources than you? If you don’t address this, you’re in danger of losing every friend you have.

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One Response to “Crude Rude”

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