How do I get waitresses to stop pseudo-flirting with me?
May 27, 2014 1:19 PM   Subscribe

I've had a string of weirdly unsettling interactions with Manhattan waitresses and I'm not sure how to stop them. I'll be more specific below, but basically a few of them will treat me like they're forcing themselves to flirt with me. I didn't put this name to it until I realized that it never happened when I was with one other woman, it only once happened when I was in mixed company, and if I was with other men the same waitress would give every man at the table the same treatment. I'd like to understand what's happening here, if anything, and how to make it stop.

Usually it's a bunch of behaviors that are individually within the pale, like lots of non-Duchenne smiles, prolonged eye contact, and speaking in this syrupy-sweet tone. It took me a while to convince myself I wasn't just imagining it, because there's nothing I can single out as inappropriate, but something about the whole affair just creeps me out.

Once, it included taking our menus by bending across the table in this awkward and unnecessary way which both of us there later agreed seemed intended to let us peek down her shirt if we wanted. Another time, a different person took my order, then rested her hand on my shoulder while talking to the rest of the table.

I don't know how to respond to this because I don't know quite what the boundaries are. I would describe all of it as just being more familiar than I want from a waitress (or, generally, anyone I met literally two minutes ago), but I don't know how to express that without sounding like I expect some kind of cringing servility. Which I really don't. In fact, I would be much more comfortable with a gruff short-order cook who barks, "Next!" and then slides a plate down the counter to me.

I'm looking for an explanation for why they're doing this, and (if that would be appropriate) a way to say (politely), "How about we discuss my food, and then you bring it, and then I pay you a fifth of its list price, and then we both go on with our lives?"

This is anonymous because I suspect it touches on some issues of class and gender where MeFites have opinions that are strongly held but not always unified and definitely not clear to me, and I'm concerned about the consequences of associating this question with my username.
posted by anonymous to Society & Culture (52 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Did you grow up on an alien planet of some sort?

Waitresses always do this with men as way of getting a bigger tip.
posted by Oktober at 1:21 PM on May 27, 2014 [85 favorites]

I don't know how to stop it but I would bet fat stacks of cash dollars they are doing it under some assumption that it may increase the chances of you giving them a bigger tip at the end of the meal.
posted by joan_holloway at 1:22 PM on May 27, 2014 [5 favorites]

Eye contact, always a smile on your face even if you're not being genuine, and syrupy sweet is par for the course for anyone in a service role. For all you know they'll be fired if they're not like that.

Re the touching and the bending over and such, dude, I don't know, but since waiters are not a hivemind there's nothing you can do with one waitress that is going to be transmitted back to the mothership so as to influence all future interactions with waitstaff in general, for all time.

I would just not engage, at all.
posted by Sara C. at 1:23 PM on May 27, 2014 [22 favorites]

That's just kind of what waitress Do, you know? I guess if it's creeping you out they're not doing it very well but I was a waitress for a few years, at places all over the spectrum from wings-and-eight-tvs to fine dining, and flirting with customers was pretty much the one constant. Granted the trick to successful flirting is to not be all stilted and weird about it, so maybe you're just noticing the ones that aren't pulling it off?

Also, when I say flirting I just mean establishing a warm rapport that wouldn't otherwise be there if I weren't going out of my way to establish it; so I would "flirt" in that sense with all genders.
posted by Aubergine at 1:24 PM on May 27, 2014 [4 favorites]

"Female servers who touch customers lightly on the shoulder, hand, or arm receive higher tips than customers who are not touched.... Female servers should be careful when touching male customers who are in the company of romantically involved females because any touching could produce jealousy." (Scholarly citations at the bottom of the link.)
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:25 PM on May 27, 2014 [23 favorites]

These waitresses are doing this because they have learned that some men will respond by giving them a bigger tip. Just politely order your food and move on with your life. Do not try to have a talk with your waitresses about this behavior. That would make everyone even more uncomfortable.
posted by Area Man at 1:27 PM on May 27, 2014 [4 favorites]

It is flirting for money. A lot of men enjoy/expect this.
posted by stoneandstar at 1:28 PM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ignore it. And even if it is a strategy to get better tips, please don't try to train them out of it by stiffing them on the tip. (Yes, I've internet-met someone who felt that was a service to humanity.)
posted by supercres at 1:29 PM on May 27, 2014 [15 favorites]

Yeah, it's a tipping thing. I dislike it myself, but there's not much you can do about it except for maybe frequent one of those restaurants that doesn't allow tipping. Or maybe wear some spiky shoulder pads.
posted by peterdarbyshire at 1:29 PM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'd quit getting lunch at Hooters for awhile if it bugs you. Some service workers do this as a way to get better tips. They probably don't do it at Subway, or at very tony restaurants where such familiarity would be viewed as distasteful.

But Applebees, Fridays, the Greek diner on the corner, these folks are just working it to get tips. Ignore it, and tip whatever.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:30 PM on May 27, 2014 [14 favorites]

This is normal for lower-end places, diners and neighborhood joints and so forth. I think in those situations you respond by doing nothing, just say thank you and leave a normal tip and move on. However I think this familiar style of service is inappropriate for higher end places. If this is happening to you at white tablecloth places, a quiet word with the manager would probably be ok. More formal service is supposed to be accommodating but very professional.
posted by CheeseLouise at 1:30 PM on May 27, 2014 [5 favorites]

If it is the one and only time you will eat there, there may not be much you can do about it. If you are a regular and interact repeatedly with the same people, you can encourage them to behave in a manner you prefer by how you respond to them.

A) Be coolly socially neutral to discourage the stuff you do not wish. Do not be rejecting or mean or anything like that, but just don't take the bait with the cutesy stuff and be 'professional."

B) Leave a big tip so they will want to please you next time in a manner that is actually pleasing to you and not straight out of some smarmy script.

C) Rinse and repeat.

Over time, most people will begin treating you as you prefer. But it does take time. It won't happen instantly.
posted by Michele in California at 1:31 PM on May 27, 2014 [9 favorites]

They are doing it, as others have noted, because we live in a patriarchal society in which women are rewarded economically based on how sexually pleasing they are to men.

The most direct way to end such behavior is to work with feminists/womanists to dismantle the patriarchy/kyriarchy.
posted by jaguar at 1:33 PM on May 27, 2014 [76 favorites]

You are experiencing the intersection between underpaid servers who must rely on tips and our culture's view of women as commodities. Just ignore it. If the flirting is particularly clumsy/creepy, you have my permission to remark on it to the people you are with, if you lack tact like I do. Who knows, maybe it will turn on a light around their unexamined interactions with women.

Whenever my husband and I go out to eat, I (a woman) almost always pay, whether it's a hot dog joint or a Michelin-starred restaurant. A side benefit is the surprise on the waitress's face when I reach for the bill. Oh yeah: and I tip at least 20%.
posted by Atrahasis at 1:34 PM on May 27, 2014 [10 favorites]

If she's touching your shoulder, you can skootch your chair away or shrug your shoulder off her. She'll get the idea & tone it down.

posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:35 PM on May 27, 2014 [4 favorites]

I think, perhaps, after the first awkward instance of flirting, you may have been unconsciously assessing waitresses for any sign of flirtatious behavior. This is not new or unique-to-you stuff, but having it presented to you so openly may have alerted you to the ongoing practice.

As a server/bartender, I was encouraged to flirt. Yeah, it works. Never touched anyone, though (who knows where that shoulder's been).
posted by troika at 1:36 PM on May 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

To follow up to jaguar's comment:

Consider funneling your discomfort into working to improve conditions for tipped workers, who rarely receive sick days, are paid even less than minimum wage, can be fired for any reason, work in atmospheres where sexual harassment, racism and age discrimination run rampant, and who are disproportionately women supporting their families.

You can read more in the excellent Behind The Kitchen Door which has both extensive research AND ways to get involved.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 1:38 PM on May 27, 2014 [33 favorites]

In case you don't know, male waiters do this to female customers as well. And it's icky because it's so transparent. There's no way I'd believe some 23 year old, way too good looking, wanna-be actor would actually flirt with me on his own accord, you know? Maybe that's partly why it feels uncomfortable to you also. But I assume there must be loads of women who are actually deceived/flattered by this, so it works for them, tip-wise.

Anyway, I have found you can greatly diminish it by just not playing along. Don't be rude, just don't flirt back, AT ALL. Another option which I think might work better for a guy with a female server might be to establish, right at the very start of the encounter, a super-friendly and appreciative yet entirely unsexual "relationship" with your waitress. Maybe picture her as your 12 year old sister or your older aunt and treat her accordingly, or whatever it would take in your mind to remove anything flirty from the exchange. She's worried you won't like her and won't tip; if she sees from the beginning that you do like her and are happy for good service, she might (depending on the individual and her personality) ease up on the flirtiness.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 1:38 PM on May 27, 2014 [8 favorites]

a way to say (politely), "How about we discuss my food, and then you bring it, and then I pay you a fifth of its list price, and then we both go on with our lives?"

OK, so that wording is definitely NOT the way to do this, but it sounds like you know that. Instead, I think that if you are uncomfortable, you could simply request that the waitress in question stop the behavior that's bothering you. "I'll have the grilled cheese and an iced tea. And, I'm sorry, but would you mind taking your hand off of my shoulder? Thanks."
posted by Asparagus at 1:38 PM on May 27, 2014 [4 favorites]

In February of 2012 the Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research published its groundbreaking article "The Effects of Interpersonal Touch on Restaurant Tipping", and it was all over the news and Web for 15 minutes, and since then waiters and waitresses have been touching customers just a little bit more. Just ignore it.
posted by nicwolff at 1:41 PM on May 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

One strategy I've seen is for folks who tip in cash: They calculate what their tip will be as soon as they decide on what they're ordering, and give it to their server up front. That removes the "you have to earn it" from the situation. Some people think it's tacky, but others find it useful.
posted by HermitDog at 1:42 PM on May 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

done for tips. enjoy it. you will when you are much older
posted by Postroad at 1:43 PM on May 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Perhaps they always do it (likely), but when you are with other men and they all get the same treatment as you, you realize that they aren't just responding to your natural charm.
posted by Good Brain at 1:44 PM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am a middle-aged woman who frequently eats out alone, and I get that same behavior from waiters of both sexes. It's just a tip thing. It mildly irritates me when I am alone because I am always obviously reading and don't want to be bothered by the chatty/flirty thing, but if I become a regular somewhere they generally get it right after a couple of visits and leave me alone (and even remember my order). I tend to also keep my answers friendly but short.
posted by clone boulevard at 1:44 PM on May 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

If you feel comfortable queening it up slightly, they'll stop. My boyfriend and I used to be the most popular customers at the Hooters across the street from our apartment because the waitresses all knew us, knew we were together, and we tipped really well while they didn't have to flirt with us at all.
posted by xingcat at 1:47 PM on May 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

Also, this is tangentially related, but it does go into some of the behaviors and motivations surrounding tips, from both staff and customer sides: Observations from a Tipless Restaurant (Link is to part 1 of 6, also has 4 postscripts and a "final thoughts" post. All really interesting.)
posted by HermitDog at 1:48 PM on May 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

As noted above, it is done for tips.

There is no good or polite way to ask someone to stop being friendly to you (if you ever want to eat at that place again), so your best course of action is just to let it go.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:48 PM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

First, Jay Porter's Observations from a Tipless Restaurant is a great look at how tipping culture encourages this kind of thing. (Hah, on preview I see I wasn't the only one who thought of this!)

Second, you have the option to not participate in tipping culture -- not by not tipping at places where tipping is accepted, but by patronizing restaurants that pay their servers a living wage and don't accept tips. Unfortunately they are few and far between when you get above the fast food or fast-casual level, but googling Manhattan tip-free restaurant does turn up some options on the fine dining side (mostly Japanese).
posted by pie ninja at 1:50 PM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Why don't you just hand the menu over or just be polite and disengaged?
posted by discopolo at 2:03 PM on May 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Waitresses always do this with men as way of getting a bigger tip.

Then there's the weird variation where a woman server will compliment the woman and the tell the guy how pretty his girlfriend is.

For tips.
posted by Room 641-A at 2:07 PM on May 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

Wondering if this line will work:

"Hey, I know you probably don't mean anything by it, but my wife gets so upset when other ladies [talk to me that way | are overly nice | other non-judgmental way of describing behavior]."
posted by amtho at 2:15 PM on May 27, 2014

Usually it's a bunch of behaviors that are individually within the pale, like lots of non-Duchenne smiles, prolonged eye contact, and speaking in this syrupy-sweet tone.

If what you find unsettling is how affected and fake it seems like they're being, they're not really being fake. They're trying to give the customer what they think the customer wants, which includes getting the food to him while it's hot, making sure it's the right order, and smiling/being as friendly as possible. For women, "as friendly as possible" is often encouraged (very, very strongly, sometimes with their job explicitly at stake) to be smiley and little-girl cute. These servers are honestly just trying to be pleasant and pleasing to you.

Being gruff with them is probably just going to make them try harder to please, and encourage the kind of behavior that you don't like. Instead, I'd recommend being (platonically) friendly. If you want to make a little bit of conversation and set the tone (just for a minute or so, just if you want and it would make you feel more comfortable), I'd try neutral small-talk like you'd make to any really new acquaintance -- asking about the last big game/talking about the weather/saying the restaurant seems really busy or slow/etc. I waitressed for a long time, and I usually ask things about how the restaurant is being run just because there's usually something I'm honestly curious about, and that usually ends up leading to a good rapport with the server. So if there's something you're connecting to or wondering about on a professional level, that might make for a good little small-talk thing to ask about.

Some servers are really stuck in their ways and swear by the sitting-at-the-table and touching kind of service, which I also *absolutely* hate (seriously don't want someone randomly touching me. Just way too uncomfortably intimate considering they're a stranger). If a server really does just end up doing that for the whole meal even if you're signalling how uncomfortable it's making you or even if you do try to make really neutral small-talk, just try to ignore it. It's not personal, and it's just them trying to do a good job the best way they know how. So just try to limit your interactions and brush it off, in that case.

For what it's worth, I never actually found that I got more tips if I flirted. Actually, I found that if I was flirtatious, guys would tend to act a lot more entitled and asshole-ish, and that doesn't result in especially good tips. Better service leads to better tips, in general, but in terms of mood/tone, it's usually when I've been more on the gruff or curt side myself that I've gotten better tips. For whatever reason!
posted by rue72 at 2:17 PM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm a 53-year-old average looking woman and it makes me feel super old when people pretend that I look a lot younger than my age. But strangers who have to interact with us fall into stereotypical behaviors based on stereotypical ideas of what people are looking for. Whether or not it's true, people believe that men like women to flirt with them and middle-aged women like to be told they look young.

Chalk it up and move on. These poor people do not have time to find out what I want from them and it would be at least as bad for me to insist on being treated like a special snowflake than it is for the majority of people to respond positively to sexual innuendo from wait staff. They're working hard and doing their best, or at least that's what we should assume unless otherwise informed.
posted by janey47 at 2:26 PM on May 27, 2014 [5 favorites]

Just ignore it. If you feel you *must* do something about it, don't shame the server for doing it (it's expected by many, many patrons), chide your male friends for taking the bait and expecting it.
posted by quince at 2:27 PM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you really want to stop it, go to the same place every time, and don't leave a tip. The waitresses will figure it out.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:43 PM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

I didn't put this name to it until I realized that it never happened when I was with one other woman, it only once happened when I was in mixed company, and if I was with other men the same waitress would give every man at the table the same treatment.

Everyone else has covered the flirting for tips things, so I just want to point out the reason this is your experience. They flirt for tips when they don't think you're with your girlfriend/spouse. Because flirting for tips in front of the girlfriend has the opposite effect on their tip, generally. Pissy girlfriends can force men to leave absolutely paltry tips or none at all.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:55 PM on May 27, 2014

I've witnessed this behavior from servers before. I thought I was crazy but had suspected flirty behavior was encouraged by management (probably men) who think it'll result in more tips, and not the waitresses themselves. And certainly, I can understand the reasoning behind it, having worked in retail where you're also encouraged to plaster on a smile/be overly nice. But touching? Like you, I feel this kind of crosses the line for many reasons.

When I worked retail it was explicitly forbidden to EVER touch a customer (unless initiated by the customer) so it's hard for me to wrap my head around management that encourages their employees to flirt with/touch customers (despite the liability it opens up).

Generally, I try to ignore the flirting by not engaging with it. I stick to the menu, converse about food/my meal and avoid small-talk. If the behavior is persistent and prevalent, I'll simply stop giving my money to that restaurant.

Of course there's sometimes pretty funny encounters to be had with servers when they're trying to adhere to this behavior. I can recall a particular time where my partner and I went out and the waitress, who didn't seem to hear us introduce ourselves multiple times as boyfriends/partners, persisted in trying to flirt with us - first jointly, then when we were each alone. When she realized she was barking up the wrong tree (and the persistence was starting to annoy us both), she didn't seem too embarrassed by it (more of a 'oops, wrong tactic for these guys' thing - which supports the idea that management is dictating this behavior). Interestingly enough, for the rest of our meal, we were mostly tended to by a young, cute-naive male dishwasher(?) (who we hadn't seen at all prior). Trying too hard is just as bad as not trying enough. We never went back.

Vote with your money. Reward the restaurants with the best practices (fair wages, no weird behavioral demands). Don't short the server - but also don't be afraid to speak up if something makes you uncomfortable - they would probably like to know if they're making their customers uncomfortable/coming on too strong.
posted by stubbehtail at 3:22 PM on May 27, 2014

If the subtle shrug/shift doesn't get the hand off, I'd have no problem turning to her with a nice smile and say something like "no touching, please" or "the wife wouldn't like the touching, sorry"
posted by Jacen at 5:10 PM on May 27, 2014

"Once, it included taking our menus by bending across the table in this awkward and unnecessary way which both of us there later agreed seemed intended to let us peek down her shirt if we wanted. "

As an awkward person, I've done similar things (not as a waitress, just chilling in my own house with my guests) because I've misjudged angles and by the time I realise "oh god, that's totally too far away" I'm propped up over the table with my chest in someone's face and my arse in the air. Which cues even more awkwardness than the initial flailing attempt to pick up the thing. Reading it as an attempt to get someone to look down my shirt would be wrong. That you would impute this motive onto the waitstaff is just part of the wider framework you are reading these interactions within. The whole hammer:nail thing.

If I'm desperate for peace, I'll generally say when I order and they prompt conversation "Here to get a bit of a break, some peace and quiet/work done/meet with a friend or colleague, you know the drill" with a big smile. That twigs them to my needs, straight up. After that it's all tight smiles and one word answers. And then praise as I leave, if applicable.
posted by geek anachronism at 5:18 PM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't think there's anything you can say directly to waitstaff about this that won't come across as really rude. (Think of it form their perspective: Management at a lot of places expects and encourages this kind of behavior. Some customers will stiff you or get shitty with you if they don't think you're being friendly or flirty enough, and then some customer gives you a hard time for doing the same things everybody else expects? $@%&! You're wrong no matter what you do! You can't win for losing!)

You need to be more subtle than that. Don't flirt back, respond only minimally to attempts at eye contact, maybe finch away a bit on purpose if a waitress tries to touch you. Otherwise, just be normally polite and leave a decent tip anyway. The thing is, if you're uncomfortable with this, you're probably already acting uncomfortable anyway. I don't have to tell you to flinch away if you're already doing that involuntarily without thinking about it, and you probably already are.

Establishments vary a lot in how much they expect or require this kind of behavior form their staff. If you have a choice, eat at places where you like the food and you feel comfortable. If you live in a reasonably large city – and it doesn't need to be a really big one – you will be able find those places.

If you get to be a regular customer somewhere, the people who wait on you there will probably notice that you're uncomfortable with them being flirty with you and do it less.

The behavior you're describing also makes me uncomfortable. But I haven't personally run into it all that much. I think is this because I usually end up being a regular at places I like, and I tend to favor mom-and-pop restaurants that have good food and don't require their staff to be over-friendly or flirtatious with customers.
posted by nangar at 6:26 PM on May 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Waitresses always do this with men as way of getting a bigger tip.

I'm a man and I haven't seen this behavior.

I'm a big tipper regardless.
posted by notyou at 6:27 PM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Become a regular and tip her the same on her bad days.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:09 PM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you can, say something in the moment (especially with the touching, that is a huge personal space violation). Either way, if a server makes you uncomfortable, that should be reflected in the amount of your tip.

As discussed, servers act this way in order to increase their tips, which is all fine and good. The customers who enjoy that kind of behaviour can continue to reward the servers for it, but there is no reason for you to.
posted by sparklemotion at 7:09 PM on May 27, 2014

The most direct way to end such behavior is to work with feminists/womanists to dismantle the patriarchy/kyriarchy.

This is the most direct way?

Or instead, how about addressing the waitress directly and letting her know what kind of approach you'd prefer. Individual faculty still exists.
posted by Kruger5 at 7:22 PM on May 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Waiters, waitresses, and bartenders are trained to read their customers. Reading a table before you have spoken to the customer is hard, but if you engage curteously and professionally, they will reflect that back to you.
posted by Vaike at 7:33 PM on May 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Some places in manhattan do this, but usually it's more in the trendy/clubby type spots. like the restaurant at the Gansevoort Hotel for example- I would see girls bend over like that in front of guy friends of mine. The restaurant at the Ritz or the Trump on Columbus Circle will NEVER do stuff like this. I was a waitress while in school and I never did anything like that nor did I ever see any of the other waitresses flirt that overtly. I mean bending over the table? That sounds really inappropriate. But in some locations it's not seen that way.

A lot of waitresses, bartenders and hostesses in manhattan get hired strictly on their looks especially at these trendy type places. When I worked in two restaurants, the bartender with 15 years experience tending bar was always overlooked and given one shift a week, while they took a hot girl with a nice rack who applied for the hostess position and would ask her if she'd like to learn how to bartend instead. Of coarse they always said yes since the money was much better. The fact that they didn't tend bar very well didn't matter as the customers liked to look at them. Since the restaurant makes it pretty clear in their actions that it's their sex appeal that got them the job, it's pretty easy to see why they would think their sex appeal is what will help them keep it and get more money with it.
posted by manderin at 9:05 PM on May 27, 2014

I agree it's about tips. I waited tables back in the day, and reading the level of interaction customers wanted was the key to making good money.

I'm shocked though, that so many responses are to ignore unwelcome touch from a stranger. OP, you do not need to say, "I'm sorry but..." or, "The wife wouldn't like this." If a woman touches you, you're entirely within your rights to say, "I will not be touching you, and I'd appreciate the same level of respect in return. Thank you."

There are a few references upthread to male servers doing this, but I can't imagine that anyone, male or female, would be told to grin and bear that if it made them uncomfortable. You are allowed to define your space.

As for flirty talk, etc., just don't engage. Roll your eyes if you want. When it comes to unwanted touch, speak up for yourself.
posted by whoiam at 10:04 PM on May 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Re things like "the wife wouldn't like this", why not just say, "I don't like being touched"? Men being unable to publicly admit having feelings is almost as bad as women being forced to publicly flirt with men they don't care about.
posted by Sara C. at 10:11 PM on May 27, 2014 [6 favorites]

What Michele in California and IndigoJones said, plus ask questions about the wait staff and show interest in them as human beings in a genuine way. As a server you kind of put on this persona. But servers have friends and normal relationships, too. Get to know the staff: one visits her brother on Fridays, one is going to grad school, one's dog was sick. If (slowly over time) you show interest in the real them, and do this in a normal or concerned way and not a flirty way, they'll likely be more real with you. Where I worked, there were three to four regulars who got that we were normal people having to put on this "what can i get you guys tonight?" act but had real lives, and actually cared enough to find out who we really were, and with me at least, it got me to drop the fake friendly act with them.
posted by salvia at 10:40 PM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

"the wife wouldn't like the touching, sorry"

Oh god, just say you don't like it, don't encourage some kind of catfighty sexist bs.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:24 AM on May 28, 2014 [7 favorites]

My husband once automatically blocked with his forearm when a server surprised him by putting her hand on the shoulder of his blind side, knocking her arm fairly hard. I can't recommend that as a method of stopping that sort of behavior, but she did keep her distance from him after the mutual apologies.
posted by telophase at 11:49 AM on May 28, 2014

If it makes you feel awkward, and it would make me feel awkward as it's creepy, perhaps let that awkwardness show? As in, thanks for being all creepy and icky with me because you've tried to rope me into some icky gender dynamics, now things are all awkward and icky between us instead of nice and respectable as it should have been.
posted by Blitz at 4:58 PM on May 28, 2014

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