Why you’d better not put your napkin on a dirty plate

A plea from one of our readers:

Please tell people to never, never, ever deposit a linen (cloth) napkin on a food plate to be taken away. I see this table manners mistake all the time and think it is extremely rude and inconsiderate, if not to say “disgusting”. Just think of the poor person  who has to fish the napkin out in the kitchen (they also get dirty themselves). I would hate to touch these and think of the poor personnel in the laundry who have to get these things clean again when they are soaked in sauces which often contain things like red wine, gravy, beet juice etc. (not to mention the extra cost for the restaurant). How rude! How déclassé! How gauche! How awful!



Dear Disgusted,

Thanks for sharing your feelings. I gather you don’t like this practice. Well, we don’t either. Just to let you know, we do mention this during our online dining training and in our live dining etiquette seminars.

This is a hot button with many people. For them, someone could have perfect table manners throughout the whole meal and totally blow it at the end by crumpling their napkin onto their dirty plate instead of folding the napkin and laying it to the side.

People in our seminars tell us in no uncertain terms how much they hate this practice and they use pretty strong terms to describe it. Gauche and déclassé are often the mildest. (Why is it we use foreign words to politely be impolite?) From there they escalate from ‘rude’, ‘uncouth’ to ‘boorish’. Ouch!

These are all terms you never want applied to you (especially where your career and social success are concerned). While we would never think these things about you, we might be tempted to politely suggest you take one of our dining etiquette training courses. After all we are the etiquette experts but we also have good manners.

Posted by Terry Pithers – the business dining etiquette expert and nice guy

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