Investigating Table Manners: an ongoing education

February 24, 2012

Stack of Dirty Dishes

Question: Is it really deemed inappropriate behaviour to sit in a restaurant to eat, and stack up the dishes to make it more convenient for the waiter or waitress to remove when finished? I know it’s not ‘proper’ in formal company (i.e. high society) or according to etiquette, but what about a normal light, fast food jointish place? Comparisons of the top of my head would include somewhere like Olive Garden in the United States or any pub that serves hot food in the United Kingdom.

Reason: I was told off by my family to not stack the dishes when we were eating a light meal of pasta and salad in the airport when in Malaysia a while ago. Not once, twice, but thrice reproached! And I was shocked and surprised, since my (student) life experiences tell me that these waiters and waitress would probably not mind my help but rather breathe a sigh of relief if they saw 20% of their work was done for them. It’s not like they are earning in the thousands! For more on this topic, read this interesting post on what waiters hate customers (un)knowingly do and its comments.

Concluding Remark: So why exactly was it wrong of me to stack the 3-4 plates we had and pick up the forks and knives on each dish to put on top? I’m still not convinced…that too in an airport which is as international a workplace as I can imagine…I’m sure other travellers or the staff would understand, whether it were an approved gesture or not.

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