1. Mark

    During a power outage I let my neighbor plug into my generator so her sump pump would keep running. After the power was restored she gave me a $50 gift card. I feel like I should return it but I am unsure if this the correct thing to do

    • Elizabeth

      Mark, the only time you could have politely refused the gift was when she presented it to you. However, if you accepted it or if she sent it to you/dropped it off, you should simply thank her for it and move on. You were very neighborly and did her a very nice favor, and the gift card is her way of saying thank you. You should go ahead and accept it in the spirit of gratitude in which it was given.

    • Chocobo

      I agree with Elizabeth. Since you have already accepted the gift, it would be difficult to give it back now without it looking like an insult. Instead, write a thank you note saying how surprised and humbled you were by her gift and how much you appreciate living in such a pleasant neighborhood. How nice that you both can be so neighborly during difficult times.

  2. Jenja

    I am a bartender at a local hole-in-the-wall bar. We’re all blue collar, working class people and it is a very relaxed and informal environment. As a petite, 23 year-old female bartender, I’m prepared to deal with more flirtation and dirty jokes in this work environment than I would tolerate in my daily life. I am careful not to “invite” it (I wear jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers to work, and I never flirt or act suggestively toward bar patrons), but it is thrown at me constantly regardless. My question is, what do I do when I am feeling disrespected? I would not be able to keep my job long or maintain loyal regulars if I couldn’t politely humor some flirting and bantering, but when people start getting too personal or start making me uncomfortable, how can I shut it down appropriately? I want to be comfortable at work and uphold my personal standards of self-respect, but I don’t want to make the whole bar uncomfortable, damage the environment, or come across poorly. Suggestions?

    (On a related note, how do I similarly handle racist remarks and “jokes”? I wouldn’t tolerate these in my daily life. How do I respond to them in my work life at the bar? I don’t want to laugh and smile along, and I feel like my integrity is compromised if I ignore it and brush it off.)

    • My husband owns a bar. Here’s how his lady bartenders handle more suggestive comments/questions.

      If a patron gets a little too forward in a line of questioning, they quickly shut them down in a nice way: “Now now, John, you know I like to keep up a little mystery.” Said with a smile and you move away to wash glasses.

      “Jane, that’s not really my brand of humor.” Smile anyway.

      • Jenja

        That’s a good suggestion for handling personal questions. Thank you! I’ll use that statement when questioned. What do you suggest for nonquestioning remarks that cross the line or become disrespectful, like a ten minute barrage of comments about my rear, disparaging comments about my “man” not being good enough, or blatantly sexual come-ons? It’s hard to escape to do dishes, because the sink is under the bar and just brings me closer to them!

        • How unfortunate. I know that my husband has told his bartenders (male and female) that they do not have to put up with harassment. Once he called the police on behalf of a female bartender who was getting far too much unpleasant attention from a much-older man who’d had a few too many. Have you talked with your manager/bar’s owner about what their preferences are? He or she may rather risk losing one belligerent customer rather than a good, hardworking bartender (chances are, other customers have a problem with this rude person as well).

          I’ll probably see some of our bartenders later this evening. I’ll try to remember to ask them how they handle it.

    • Elizabeth

      The one thing I’ve always admired about bartenders is their ability to both be available for interaction, but also to be quite unavailable – other patrons needing drinks, dishes to be washed, bottles to be stocked. Also, bartenders can be notoriously acerbic and typically do not put up with any nonsense. You are there to serve your customers in a pleasant manner, but when they overstep, you are no longer required to keep the mood light. In fact, you are not even required to interact with them at all. When someone starts commenting on your physique, quickly lose the smile, say “That’s disgusting, don’t speak about me in that way.” and then walk away. In terms of the jokes, unless they are being told directly to you, I would just ignore them. If they are addressed to you, just look confused/concerned and say “Ummm I don’t get it.” If they try to explain, you can say, “Oh, you’re being racist. Yea…that’s not funny.” (I also liked Laura’s suggestion.) And then walk away. Again, it is not your job to validate people who are being rude or boorish.

      Finally, no woman ‘invites’ any particular kind of attention depending on their clothes. Other people should treat you with respect no matter what you’re wearing. You shouldn’t have to consciously try to downplay yourself to try to ward off unpleasant attention. That attention, it would seem, will come anyway.

      In addition to asking your boss for his/her suggestions, I would also encourage you to ask other bartenders, especially other women. In lots of cities/towns, there’s always one place that stays open even later than the bars to cater to waitstaff, barstaff, cooks, etc after they get off their shifts. Go and hang out there once in a while, see who you can meet and trade war stories with. I’m sure you will get a plethora of great advice from those in the trenches.

      • Vanna Keiler

        Great question Jenja, although I am sorry you have to deal with these issues in this workplace. It also appears, from the above comments, that these situations “come with the territory”. Hopefully you will find a balance in your responses between being assertive and being friendly — a professional bartender. There must be a book out there published by a female bartender on handling these issues or a website…I found this one from googling “female bartender advice”. http://www.misscharming.com/bartender/tipshintsecrets.htm Perhaps you could contact the author and get her take? Good luck and remember: if you can handle this crowd, you’re way ahead of the rest of us in handling work-related issues!

  3. Jody

    Mark, I agree with Elizabeth. You were a very generous person to allow your neighbor to plug into your electricity without asking payment. Your neighbor was very courteous to offer reimbursement without being asked. It’s nice (and, I have a feeling, rare) to have such a good relationship between neighbors.

  4. Robyn

    I work in a semi-formal restaurant. We do not use linen table clothes and pre-set the tables with one folded linen napkin, one fork, one knife, and a wine glass. We generally set the napkin to the right of the place setting, resting left to right first the fork then the knife blade inward atop the napkin (we do not want to place the silverware directly on the table), and the wine glass above and slightly to the right of the napkin. Is this correct given the situation? I have been unable to find any examples in this scenario.
    Thank You!

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