OK for waitress to ask this?

posted 3 years ago in Etiquette
  • poll: OK for waitress to ask customer: What happened to your foot?
    Yes : (106 votes)
    54 %
    No : (75 votes)
    38 %
    Other : (14 votes)
    7 %
  • Post # 16
    1682 posts
    Bumble bee

     Well he is not obligated to go into details that lead to more questions, nor is he obligated to give any information at all. He can simply say “I’m waiting for the doctor to tell me. What’s the soup of the day?” The asker will get the message that he doesn’t wish to discuss, and life/meal can move on.

    Post # 17
    3049 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: November 2016

    I had an ankle/heel injury and had to wear a “boot”, a soft cast, and a hard cast for a long time. I got the question everytime I stepped outside.

    While I would have preferred not to talk about it, I never felt anyone was with bad intent in asking. It’s a little intrusive, yes. However, not the worst thing a stranger could or has asked me. 

    I wouldn’t personally ask someone if I saw them because I know how I personally preferred not to talk about it. That and you do not know the situation. What if the person injured their foot in an accident and they lost loved ones in that accident or so forth (kinda extreme but you never know). Some people don’t want to be constantly reminded when the injury itself is already a constant reminder.

    I also had a lot of people that asked because they want to share their own personal injury stories. 

    My opinion would be not to ask unless they bring it up similar to how you wouldn’t ask a woman when she’ll have kids not knowing maybe she has faced issues with TTC.

    Post # 18
    110 posts
    Blushing bee
    • Wedding: July 2018

    I’m disabled with neurological diseases among other things. Sometimes I walk with a brace, cane, crutches or use a wheelchair. I’ve worn the soft cast and that special shoe before as well.  I get strangers asking all the time what happened as it looks like a temporary injury. Honestly it doesn’t bother me most of the time. Occasionally it’s been a really bad day and I don’t like the reminder that I’m sick, but people never ask with the intent to hurt me. It’s either general question or actual concern. I’d never be truly upset or offended if anyone asked to be honest. Awareness never hurts!


    Everyone is different. 

    Post # 19
    12208 posts
    Sugar Beekeeper

    The customer in this example is not obligated to give an explanation and obviously will have to learn to deal when people bring it up or assume it’s a temporary injury, but that really misses the point. 

    OP is not asking how to handle repeated questions, or even whether everyone in that position would be offended. She’s asking as an etiquette Q if it is appropriate for curious strangers to ask personal questions.  

    It’s not. 

    Just because he can reply “I’d rather not say” doesn’t make it any more polite on the part of the waitress. 

    Post # 20
    7433 posts
    Busy Beekeeper
    • Wedding: June 2013

    I don’t really see anything wrong with asking but I also don’t see anything wrong with saying “I’d rather not go into it.”

    Post # 21
    480 posts
    Helper bee

    Haha, what? Is this for real?


    Not even one out of 1 000 000 Swedes would ever ask another what happened to their foot?! That is a private, and a big chance of being sensitive, topic!


    Jesus. People get upset about others asking them about the most trivial things, like if their stone is a diamond, but then have no problem asking others about their injured/defected body parts…???


    Just what?


    This is just super absurd to me. And no, I would never ask unless it was a friend that showed up with her leg in a package or “special shoe”.


    I would however hold the door for them, give them my seat on the bus, I might ask if they seemed to need help with something physical, I am not a insensitive jerk that doesnt care about others, but I do respect peoples integrity and I apprechiate when people show me the same respect. 


    Is this a cultural thing?

    Post # 22
    4028 posts
    Honey bee
    • Wedding: October 2016

    My Father-In-Law is an amputee and he gets questioned all the time about what happened to his leg, from adults, kids, old people you name it. And while I would find it annoying to keep explaining, my Father-In-Law likes to educate people and explain his story. It’s just the way he is. He takes everything in stride though and has such an amazing attitude. He is my hero.

    Post # 23
    480 posts
    Helper bee

    But then again, this is how we wait for the bus in Sweden…  we just dont interfere with others personal space.

    Post # 24
    98 posts
    Worker bee
    • Wedding: May 2014

    Prior to reading your update, I would have needed more info. If the man was a regular and didn’t usually have a cane and a boot, then I absolutely think it’s acceptable to ask what happened. If he wasn’t a regular and the waitress didn’t know if it was a constant condition or a new development, then I think it’s a little nosy to ask questions. 

    Post # 25
    682 posts
    Busy bee

    I think it’s rude to ask. Kind of surprised other people think that’s okay. I know someone with a deformity, and he hates when people ask him questions about it. It is extremely rude. It’s like saying, “Hey, I noticed you’re different than me in a negative way. Let me make sure to point that out.”

    Post # 26
    1365 posts
    Bumble bee

    I interact with a lot of people every day (social service position, not service industry) and personally wouldn’t comment unless someone brought it up on their own or if it was impacting the way we were interacting. 

    I also have had multiple surgeries for a variety of serious ailments and explaining was exhausting (and I’m a very patient person). I finally just started creating super crazy stories (“Oh this sling? I hurt my arm jumping out of a helicopter while rescuing a baby seal from a clubber.” “This leg brace? Yeah I saved my husband from a lion while we were on safari.”) or, in the case of the brain things, just matter of factly saying “brain tumor” (true) with a pointed look and people will usually (USUALLY) get the point. 

    I totally get it can come from an innocent and concerned place. But chronic illness takes a toll on a lot of ways and this is one of them. I always try to be aware of that in my interactions. 

    Post # 27
    4028 posts
    Honey bee
    • Wedding: October 2016

    farmfreshjoy :  that’s hilarious! My Father-In-Law every once in awhile loves to tell people he used to wrestle alligators for a living, until the alligator won… LOL I used to die because some people’s eyes would get real wide and say, “reaaaalllllyyyy?????” And he would laugh and say “no diabetes, but isn’t the first story more interesting?!” 

    Post # 28
    1365 posts
    Bumble bee

    Cheekie0077 :  Sometimes humor is the only way to deal. 🙂 I like your FIL’s story! I might add it to my repertoire the next time I have a more obvious ailment.  

    And yes, some people TOTALLY believe it. They’re nuts. 🙂

    Post # 29
    1703 posts
    Bumble bee

    I think it is sad that people are so offended by everything these days. I tend to think in general if someone asks, they are asking out of kindness. I broke my foot a few years ago and people asked me all the time what happened – I was never annoyed or thought they were inappropriate. The story was embarrassing, so I hated telling it, but I never thought badly of the people that asked.

    Post # 30
    8056 posts
    Bumble Beekeeper

    I think it’s rude because it’s just being nosey. I hate when strangers ask personal questions generally though – I just want to order food/complete my transaction/whatever not get to know each other better or chat about our lives. You can be pleasant and polite without being overly personal. 

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