Woman or Mouse?

You’ve probably heard the expression:

“What are you, a man or a mouse?”

It’s often used to encourage a person to be brave and stand up for himself. There were plenty of years when I would have to say I was definitely a “mouse”. As a kid, I was taught to be accommodating, polite, respectful – all virtues to be sure – but there are times when it seems only fair to speak up if you are uncomfortable.

Last week, Sir Beads and I took an afternoon off and decided to go for a drive and then out for a nice dinner – something we haven’t done for a while; it’s getting so expensive.

We love seafood so we went to a restaurant where that is the specialty. It was early evening. The restaurant wasn’t crowded yet, but there were 7 or 8 other couples and families already in the small dining room as we entered.


Our meal was served and we hadn’t had more than a few bites when the hostess began to run an electric broom nearby. At first, I didn’t think too much about it. I figured she was just grabbing a few crumbs from under a table that had been occupied moments before.

I was wrong, though. She began to move all the chairs and thoroughly “sweep” that area… and then she moved to a neighboring table and did the same. The sound was quite loud and high-pitched.

Now, there was a time when I would have just suffered in silence, but not that day. Maybe I’m bolder cause I’m older? Lol 😉

I said to Sir Beads, “This is ruining our calm, relaxing, meal. We’re spending a chunk of our entertainment budget here, and we can’t afford to waste it. I must say something to the woman.”


So, I very politely asked if the noise would be stopping soon because this was not a peaceful atmosphere for enjoying our dinner. She immediately turned off the machine and the other diners looked grateful. I am baffled that anyone would ever make such a racket in the first place, especially with several tables of people trying to eat.

I must admit that afterwards, I felt a little bad about it. I feared that I seemed like a complainer. I guess all that politeness training is tough to shake, even when it seems fair to do so.

What do you think? 😉



Woman or Mouse? — 13 Comments

  1. Hi Crystal! I think you did the right thing by speaking up. The woman with the electric broom was totally in the wrong. No way should she have been using that noisy broom while people were eating! I’m surprised a manager didn’t say something to her before you did! I know how sweet you are and you shouldn’t have been put in such a position. Here’s to being able to politely speak up when it counts!!! xoxo

    …You know, I actually thought about waiting till the morning to comment so Carol’s comment would be first! 🙂

  2. You totally did the right thing!

    I feel, strongly, it’s rude not to make your wishes known. I’m not talking about *forcing* others to bend to your will, but just saying “I’d like such-and-such.” Be honest, how much time and worry have you wasted in *your* life trying to figure out what someone “really meant”, or if you’d inadvertently given offense? How many times have you, being a “mouse”, wound up causing other people *more* trouble while they try to guess what you need, or maybe getting angry at them and even punishing them because they didn’t magically just “know” what you wanted? Remember that a request isn’t a demand, more of an offer– it gives people more information to use when they’re deciding what *they* want to do.

    It’s even more important in stores and restaurants! Running a business depends on keeping consumers happy. If you’d sat through your whole meal with that racket, would you ever go back to that restaurant? Would other customers? You saved them business, right there! But businesses can’t adapt to customer needs they don’t know exist. MAN, how I wish potential clients would tell me “Hey, I’d like it if you stocked cards”, or similar.

    And on a person to person level, well…my mom and I were at a restaurant last week (sit down but not fancy) where the music was blaring. Awful generic pop mix at top volume. There were only a few people there besides the staff, and they all looked annoyed. I asked the waittress to turn down the music…and she grinned hugely, thanked me enormously, and immediately turned it down to be barely audible. When she came back (to the cheers and applause of the other customers) she explained that management didn’t allow them to turn down the music *unless* the customer requested it. This is actually really common; I worked two places with a similar policy, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Vaccuum of Doom was a managerial mandate, from a supervisor or corporate head who thought people cared more about the pristine carpet than the chance to enjoy dinner in peace. Customers almost always “outrank” staff in these things. So be polite, be understanding, but be heard! Your request may be the magic words that save someone’s day!:D

  3. And, ahem. Sorry about the essay, there. I feel strongly about this, though. Clear Communication is Critical!:D

  4. Paulette!!! Don’t you dare!!!
    I got a late start this morning!!

    Now look Crissie, don’t you DARE be guilty about speaking up. That waitress was inexperienced or inconsiderate. You MUST expect the best when you are dining out. Their business is to serve YOU!!

    Terry likes to eat at Fazoli’s. Do you have them where you live. Kind of a fast food Italian place. I HATE it. O, I love my fav at the place. But its one of those places with the open ceiling, no carpet and voices echoing. Its inexpensive so usually small kids are there whose parents have not taught them inside voices yet. Waitresses clear tables and screech the chairs across the floor. We usually get carry out now. I hate eating in there. Their loss because carry out is cheaper than eating in.

    Now Crissie, you know when I read the heading of this post Woman or Mouse???? my attention was really piqued! I don’t think I was EVER referred to as a mouse. I had that same Children Are To Be Seen And Not Heard upbringing that you probably did. We seldom voiced our opinion or discomforts. I grew out of that part REAL quick and never looked back ~lol~.

    Great Post Crissie. Be A Man….er…WOman not a mouse!!

    Lots and Lots of Love on this sunny day in Northern Indiana!!

  5. You Go Girl!
    Great job! I totally agree. After you asked her to quit, you had a calm meal, didn’t you? Then you did the right thing.

  6. PS I love being “older” – I’m more outspoken now than ever and lovin’ it! I feel empowered – i guess I’m finally all grown up – ha ha ha.

  7. Good for you! What was that person thinking??? I think it’s great you spoke up! You were polite, too! It’s not wrong to say something! But you are right, we are TAUGHT to be polite without also being TAUGHT to have good boundaries!

  8. I totally think you did the right thing! As you said, you don’t have unlimited funds or time for eating out and you want to be able to enjoy it when you do go. Sounds like you asked politely so I say good for you! Added bonus of making the other diners’ dinners better too!

  9. I agree, you did the right thing. I guess we all become impowered when we get older. Another thing that has empowered me is riding a Harley, they call it the Harley attitude, people who are quiet and shy become bolder. It is because it is hard to be shy when people come up and ask you questions about your bike. Kids especially seems thrilled to see a women on a motorcycle.

  10. Unfortunatly it takes a customer to complain these days.the service industries are not training their staff like before and the workers especially the younger ones simply don’t think of others.
    Good for you for speaking up!

  11. NO! You were right to do it. It was your right! Customer service should be key to any business! Especially one like F&B. I would have complained too

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