Three ladies at Point Brugge Cafe, Sunday morning.

As I was arriving, you were eating dessert, Coupe Denmark for one, Flourless Chocolate Cake for the next, just coffee for the last. Then you paid, leaving a crappy tip that you obviously were not embarrassed enough of to avoid talking loudly about it. Then you sat there, in the prime, center outside table, reading Latina Magazine aloud to each other and planning a trip to Peru.

This is not acceptable behavior. First, you never tip less than fifteen percent, unless the service was abominably bad. More importantly, you do not take up the best table in the house at a restaurant with a line for an hour after you have insulted the waitress with your awful tip.

Your behavior was inconsiderate in the extreme, both to the people who were waiting to eat and to the waitstaff, who depend upon table turnover to make their living. I hope you all read this and are so ashamed of yourselves that you change your ways, begin to tip well and consider others, but I think you will not. You will instead think I am a jerk for expecting you to conform to the standards of behavior that keep the rest of us in civil society.

Should I have said something to you directly? I was with my wife, who has no interest in picking fights with strangers (and if she did, probably would have gone after you for wearing flip-flops to a decent restaurant), and so said nothing. If I had a different companion, I might have made a different choice.

Here, then, is a question for the echo-chamber of the internet: when is a stranger’s behavior so bad, short of criminality, that it is acceptable to deputize yourself Protector of Civility?

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