Ok, here we go after a two week absence, the MAtH (man about the house) and I are reading Dianne Isbell's Monday Etiquette column in the Belleville News-Democrat.
Me: Do you want to hear what Dianne is talking about today?
MAtH: Well, then, not really. But I know you're going to tell me anyway.
Me: Right. She has a long, long answer to someone who wants to know how to make hospital visitors not stay so long.
MAtH: That's sounds like Dianne.
Me: Here's the question...or part of it at least, it's long too. "My mother was in the hospital last month and I have a question about visitors. It's wonderful to have lots of friends who care enough and take the time to visit, but sometimes the timing is off and sometimes the stay is too long when the patient isn't feeling well and needs to rest."
MAtH: Sometimes I think older people use hospital visits as a social event.
Me: That's mean.
MAtH: It's true, I not being mean. It's something to do in the afternoon, people to talk to and get the gossip.
Me: Ok, maybe. Here's more of the question: "Most of the visiting friends routinely called me to find out how she was doing, about visiting, etc. Should I have said something then, and what?"
MAtH: Why not say something then, isn't that answer obvious? Just tell the caller Mom needs her rest and can't take visitors for too long.
Me: Sounds easy, doesn't it? But the woman goes on: "When I was there with Mom, a couple of times I felt it necessary to hint that I thought mom was tired, hoping the visitors would leave. By the look she gave me, Mom didn't like that."
MAtH: Wait a second. It sounds like the mother didn't want to push out the visitors. Maybe it's the daughter who was tired of them.
Me: Haha. That makes a sort of sense.
MAtH: What does Dianne say?
Me: "When you feel it necessary to conclude a friend's visit because you can see your mother is tired: "Mom, I can see you need to rest, so we'll leave and let you do that." The visitor will likely follow your cue. You can thank him for coming as you walk down the hallway with him."
MAtH: "Him"? Dianne thinks the visitor who stays to long is a "him"?
MAtH: I don't get why she used a him.
Me: This seems a small thing, maybe Dianne uses the universal "he".
MAtH: In any event, I do know that when I made pastoral hospital visits, I tried to guage how long I should stay. You can usually tell how long a patient can take conversation.
Me: I guess people who don't go to hospitals that often don't understand. They tend to settle into the one big chair in the room and plan to spend the entire afternoon.
MAtH: That's one reason most hospitals provide really uncomfortable chairs for visitors, it keeps them from wanting to stay too long.
Me: Dianne has one more question today.
MAtH: Not a wedding question I hope.
Me: No. A restaurant wait staff question. "I recently had dinner at a rather upscale restaurant. The food was wonderful but our waiter's shirt cuffs were absolutely filthy! My friends and I discussed it on the way home in the car. They felt that one of us should have taken the time to mention it to the manager. I would not have wanted to do that for fear of the young man getting fired. However, it's not a good thing for the restaurant. Would it be appropriate if I took the time to write a letter addressed to the manager but not mention the waiter's name?"
MAtH: I wonder what a "rather upscale restaurant" might be?
Me: Something between Tony's and Applebees.
MAtH: This is an interesting question. How filthy were those cuffs, really? If it is an upscale restaurant, I can't imagine the cuffs being as bad as she says.
Me: So the writer is a "she" eh? How do you know?
MAtH: Because she and her friends discussed it in the car, us guys probably wouldn't even have noticed. And, they talked about wanting to writer a letter to the manager. That wouldn't be men.
Me: I know lots of men who would have noticed if they were that bad.
MAtH: Maybe, I guess I just look at the food, that's what I'm there for.
Me: You'd think that if the cuffs were that bad, someone in the kitchen would have noticed and made him change. Upscale restaurants would notice.
MAtH: Well, it was noticeable enough for this woman to write Dianne.
Me: Dianne said, "A letter to the manager politely bringing the matter to his attention is appropriate and probably would be appreciated."
MAtH: A letter which doesn't mention the waiter's name. I bet this woman and her friends get a free meal out of this.
Me: And, it will make for good conversation the next time they go visit someone in the hospital.
MAtH: Hopefully a family member of the patient will give her the hard chair.