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Awkward moments caused entirely due to that British politeness embarrassment thing

(244 Posts)
Piglet208 Wed 16-Aug-17 10:43:21

I was recently having a meal in a hotel in France with Dh. After the main course, the lovely waiter ( he looked like Manuel from Fawlty towers) came over with the menu and said something in French about dessert. I speak some French but didn't catch the whole sentence so I nodded and went to take the menu. He pulled the menu away, smiled and said something else which I didn't catch. We assumed that he thought we didn't want dessert and decided to leave it as the restaurant was extremely busy. Suddenly Manuel triumphantly appeared with two desserts and handed a creme brûlée to Dh and a chocolate tart to me. Now obviously we should have got his attention and explained we hadn't ordered dessert but my embarrassment at having to try to explain in French and to be honest the fact that the desserts looked lovely led to Dh suggesting we just eat them. As we started to eat Dh noticed that the group of waiters were having a serious discussion and looking over worriedly at us. Manuel was beginning to sweat and it was obvious that we had someone else's dessert. So the whole time we continued to eat the desserts ( they were lovely) the entire restaurant staff were heatedly gesticulating and glaring while Manuel got more and more sheepish. After a while identical desserts were brought out to a table close by and eventually Manuel shuffled over to our table and asked Dh to sign for the desserts, avoiding any eye contact or mention of the mistake, which he obviously did much to Manuel's relief. I can't help thinking that Manuel must think we were slightly strange to accept 2 rogue desserts and eat them without saying anything!

SumThucker Wed 16-Aug-17 10:53:21

So do I grin

Josiah Wed 16-Aug-17 10:58:32

That's fab! Great little story!

I'm sure Manuel has suffered worse!

McTufty Wed 16-Aug-17 11:02:24

Ha ha!

Mine is when I was seconded for a day, I wasn't given a security pass to the canteen. You also need the pass to get back into the main office.

Someone kindly invited me to lunch and I went along with her. It was lovely but she took AAAAGES to eat her lunch. I had allocated maybe half an hour or forty five minutes.

Problem is I had a meeting I was meant to attend at 2, but I was too embarrassed to ask her to cut her lunch short to take me back, so I ended up being 15 minutes late!

VladmirsPoutine Wed 16-Aug-17 11:03:56

That's a fab story grin "rogue desserts".

I once purposefully missed my train because a colleague was going the same way and I couldn't bear an hour of making polite chit-chat so I stood around Liverpool st station like a lemon waiting for the next train.

alltouchedout Wed 16-Aug-17 11:05:14

I've done that Vlad. More than once, too blush

LoneStarRising Wed 16-Aug-17 11:07:24

Mine is awful, just awful.

I was staying at a friend's parents. They put me up on their sofa. We arrived late, and everyone went to bed. I needed a wee and every door in the upstairs of the house was shut, so I couldn't tell which was bedroom, which was bathroom.

I was too embarrassed to knock on any of the doors.

I went back down and weed in their kitchen sink.

GiveMeTheTeaAndNobodyGetsHurt Wed 16-Aug-17 11:09:47

DH & I went on holiday to Madeira some years ago. We sat at a little cafe for a drink and a snack, to find that there was no English translation of the menu. Instead of asking the lovely waiter if they had an English menu, or could translate for us, we decided to use our limited holiday Portuguese so as not to be 'that English couple' who expects everyone to speak English. We ordered a couple of dishes, from our recognition of a couple of words on the menu. The slightly surprised look from the waiter was a clue that we had got something wrong...
Waiter came back with the tea and coffee that we had at least managed to order without incident, accompanied with a plate of sliced tomatoes and a plate of cheese! Not quite what we thought we were getting, tbh.blushgrin

SumThucker Wed 16-Aug-17 11:10:26

grin My mum used to take us to visit our Grandparents on a Saturday, a 4 mile journey we had to make by bus. She'd be practically screaming at us girls to get a move on so we didn't miss the bus. Every single time we would bump into someone she knew, and rather than say "we've got a bus to catch" she would have her ear chewed off for 20 minutes, politely smiling and nodding until they'd finished papping on.
Never understood it.

Timefortea99 Wed 16-Aug-17 11:12:23

Lone Star - console yourself that they were bad hosts. Fancy not pointing out the facilities. Awful to put you in that position (over the sink). Imagine if someone came down for a drink. Hard to explain that one away.

EarlessToothlessVagabond Wed 16-Aug-17 11:14:50

grin you should have a look at Very British Problems on FB. All about these kind of awkwardnesses.

BayLeaves Wed 16-Aug-17 11:18:51

LoneStarRising Great story grin Are we the first ones to hear it or have you confessed to anyone in RL?!

How about walking all the way around the supermarket in a pointless and shifty manner to avoid bumping into the acquaintance that you already bumped into once and exchanged small talk with, and don't want to bump into them a second time...

EarlessToothlessVagabond Wed 16-Aug-17 11:24:17

When dh and I were in mallorca a few years ago we'd had a meal and dh wanted to order a espresso. Instead of just asking for 'an espresso' he asked for 'a large Italian style coffee' in a ridiculous cod-italian accent (this was looked remember) complete with strange arm gesticulations - all for reasons known only to him. The waiter said 'an espresso then?'. Cringe. I have never let dh forget it and he usually does something awkward and British every time we go abroad. We all look forward to it now grin

EarlessToothlessVagabond Wed 16-Aug-17 11:24:47


scaryclown Wed 16-Aug-17 11:25:00

I was on a phone call to a charity where a charming and very young volunteer was falling over herself to tell me I was amazing for donating (and I got the feeling I was her first successful call) I was to embarrassed to say 'OK, enough I have to go now' that I kept my phone on all the way to my desk... And got sacked shock
It was for an organisation that banged on about using work hours for charity and community work too... Hmmph

dragonwarrior Wed 16-Aug-17 11:33:26

But you didn't actually get sacked for taking one phone call at your desk though did you.....

MrsKoala Wed 16-Aug-17 11:35:04

When i was hugely pregnant with DS1 we went to Milan in a heatwave in August. I was so hot a swollen all over. I wanted a drink from a fountain and stood waiting my turn. But every time the person in front finished and moved away, another person would just push in front. I stood there for about 25 mins of this happening, half stepping forward then stepping back awkwardly feeling more and more faint. Eventually an Italian man asked me in English 'Are you English? Do you want some water?' I almost burst into tears and said 'I did very much but i couldn't get to the front'. He shouted something to everyone in Italian about me being English. They all stopped stepped back and then burst out laughing as I leant forward and had a drink.

I drew myself up to my full height with water dribbling down my chin, said a very crisp 'thank you' and nodded politely and waddled away with the dignity that knowing how to queue properly makes me very British.

I honestly think i would have stood there till i expired rather than push in front. It wouldn't ever have occurred to me not to.

NetMumsBastards Wed 16-Aug-17 11:38:37

Timefortea I have a wee-related one as well.

When we were having our new windows fitted, I needed a wee but was too awkward to ask the fitters to step out of the bathroom for two minutes. So instead I shut myself away in our under-the-stairs cupboard, which is off our dining room, and squatted over the washing up bowl.

It was pitch black and my knees were trembling. I got 70% of the piss in the bowl but the other 30% all over DH's work shoes.

Just as I was finishing off, one of the fitters came downstairs to ask DH a question and they stood chatting in the dining room for about ten minutes while I stood completely still, trousers around my ankles in the pitch black cupboard trying to not stand in my own piss.


BillyDaveysDaughter Wed 16-Aug-17 11:48:58

MrsKoala that made me properly laugh - we are so British in our queuing habits that going to Europe where there is no such etiquette is, frankly, hilarious.

I have stood baffled and confused in a bakery in Switzerland, watching the proprietor serve seemingly random people based only on eye contact until someone took pity on me and elbowed me forward.

Similarly in a crowd awaiting the plane from Zurich back to Gatwick, me and a couple of other English people stood trying depserately to queue as more and more people shoved past us waving European or Swiss passports. I tutted in an English way at two burly guys who pushed in front of me, and one turned to the other and said something like (from what I could gather in my limited comprehension of Suisse-Deutsche) "Spot the English passports".

It frustrates yet amuses me.

cjt110 Wed 16-Aug-17 11:51:50

Once read a story in a magazine about a family going to Spain. Dad was trying to impress with his newly learnt Spanish and at the end of the meal asked "Senor, la queso por favor?" The waiter obliged and brought out a plate of cheese. The man, being new to these fangled holidays thought it must be some weird Spanish custom. Ate the cheese and asked again "Senor, la queso por favor?"... You guessed it.... more cheese was delivered to the table. Took him a few attempts to realise the word he meant was quenta (bill).

Piglet208 Wed 16-Aug-17 11:52:25

Oh wow. The wee ones are cringingly hilarious! Especially the cupboard one. blush

Sugarpiehoneyeye Wed 16-Aug-17 11:53:02

A long time ago (still blushing), I got off the second bus, after finishing work, to face a long rural walk home. As I was crossing the road, I saw my boss in his sports car, parked up across the road, waving. Great thought I, as I rushed over, and clambered in his car, so glad for a lift, only to find, he had just stopped to drop off his little daughter, at a birthday party. I was so embarrassed, he must have felt my discomfort, and took me home anyway ! 😊😂

GameOldBirdz Wed 16-Aug-17 11:53:12

In the woods by my house once I spotted a colleague out with his dog and didn't want to get into a conversation so I took a detour down a path I hadn't taken before. I got lost for three hours, missed an important work Skype meeting and ended up in the next town 7 miles away.

All to avoid a five minute chat with a perfectly nice colleague.

Piglet208 Wed 16-Aug-17 11:55:21

@GameOldBirdz That is so British grin

SumThucker Wed 16-Aug-17 11:55:51

Sugarpiehoneyeye now that makes my arse turn inside out cringing blushgrin

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