No Smoking Please, or the Hostess without the Mostest

Disclaimer: If you like to smoke, this is not against you, knock yourself out and have one for me or something. This is about my annoyance at a hostess.

My bestest pal and I were all ready to go out for a night of fun. After a tough week of not feeling well (nothing contagious, just my body misbehaving) we were really looking forward to dinner and our favourite comic at a new comedy club. Because I have severe reactions to smoke, I make a point to plan ahead medication wise and time/seating wise. We made a point to purchase our tickets for the non-smoking show, how were we to know that dinner would cause the problem?

We decided on this nifty little Italian restaurant in my neighbourhood. The hostess, who was not too into her task perkily asked us: smoking or non? We replied no smoking, thanks. Would anyone care to guess where she tried to plop us down? If you guess in the area designated non smoking, directly next to the bar and tables designated smoking, you get a gold star. I paused, bestest pal and I kind of looked at each other for a second and I said, “Is that the smoking section?” She nodded yes, and I politely asked to be moved further away from the smoking section. She moved us two tables away. I, again politely, explained to her, that we didn’t want to be anywhere near smoking, as far away as possible. She became frustrated and moved us two more tables away. Finally, bestest pal informs her that I have an epi-pen in my purse, and unless she wants my face to bloat up like I’m Tina after a discussion with Ike (a reference she didn’t get) and then stop breathing, thus needing to call an ambulance, we really, really needed to be faaaaaaaar away from the smoking section. Apparently, bestest pal’s more aggressive style worked, and we were placed on the other side of the restaurant. It really shouldn’t have been that hard. Had we not been in such a hurry, we’d have mentioned it to the manager that night. Since we were, we called at a later date, but haven’t gotten a chance to go back and take part of the yummy food.

So, to the dingiest hostess I have yet to encounter: I realize that this is probably your first hostess job, many of those who work in restaurants in my area are still in high school and trying to get experience. Learning is a good thing. For the love of all that is holy and pooh bear though, if someone asks for no smoking, they mean no smoking, not two steps away from it. Hopefully, you’ve learned and all is right at the tasty eatery now, but if not, I hope that you get some itchy bumps in a place you just can’t reach, and when you can reach them, scratching them only makes things worse.

The comedy show rocked and the new club had a very high nifty factor, so fortunately, her lack of a fully functional brain didn’t really impact the evening, the memory just grates on occasion.

You asked to be seated in non smoking, and were seated in non smoking. If you wanted to be seated far away from the smoking section you should have made that clear when you were first asked.

Yes she shouldnt have gotten frustrated with you, but maybe if you come across this next time, how about suggesting a table that you think would be suitable and you can then explain that you have a medical reason not to be seated near smokers.

The girl more then likely has a fully fuctionable brain, but she more then likely isnt psychic and wont know that you have this illness. The restaurant has more then likely designated smoking and non smoking sections, if she sat you within the non smoking section then she was already doing her job properly. You should have just made your request a little clearer.

Hope you enjoyed your night anyway though.

You were seated two tables away, then four tables away from the smoking section? 4 tables and it was possible to go further? For a start, is this a club or a freaking barn?

You were four tables away from the smoking area at one point. Quitcha bitching, stop bugging the poor waitress, and take that table. It won’t be any less smoky a couple of metres further away.

You asked for non-smoking, she gave you non-smoking. You asked for better seats, she gave them to you. You asked again, she acquiesced. You asked again, quite rudely, and she still seated you.

I don’t think the hostess was the problem. People aren’t mind-readers. If you have extra-special requests, you have to say them, out loud. Deadly allergies count as extra-special requests, BTW.

Your rant about non-smoking being two steps away from smoking is not her fault. It’s the fault of management, and it’s a problem everywhere smoking is allowed.

No, the OP was not really seated in a non smoking area if s/he was getting smoke fumes at that table. Smoke will waft all over the place unless there is a barricade or really, REALLY good ventilation. The hostess should have moved the diners far away from smoking on the FIRST request. The hostess is probably a smoker herself, smokers generally don’t realize just how far smoke wafts, because they’re so accustomed to it.

I have an even dingier hostess story. I made a point of asking for a non-smoking table, asked again when she seated me if it was non-smoking and she said yes. I ordered, my food arrived, and then (note proper use of word then) I smelled something. I looked behind me, to the next table…the HOSTESS was seated, and smoking. I promptly moved to another table. It’s a good thing for the hostess that she had disappeared after she got done with that cigarette, or I would have asked her to sponsor my next trip to the ER. I wasn’t about to approach her with a cigarette burning. I can’t hold my breath that long.

I agree that your severe allergy to smoke justified you sitting where you wouldn’t encounter any, but I also agree that the hostess couldn’t read your mind.

My guess, based on when I waited tables/hostessed (when no one smoked in the caves, because fire hadn’t been discovered yet), is that they were not full and therefore not fully staffed (as would seem to be indicated by the availability of three instantly open tables at three different places in the restaurant). (This is common early in the evening; did you go early?) If I, the hosty, have only one or two waitrons on the floor, I am going to cluster-seat people in one or two sections and keep the other sections closed, in order to avoid having the waits truck back and forth across the length and breadth of the restaurant. If she was trying to give your table to the wait who was also covering the smoking section, she would have seated you near the smoking section. But I agree – there’s no magical barrier in the air that keeps smoke from wafting from “smoking” to “non,” so you were absolutely reasonable to ask to be seated away from it, even if you didn’t have the allergy but just didn’t like it. But IMO the way to communicate that is not “farther . . . farther . . . farther . . . jeez, you’re a moron” but rather “Non-smoking please . . . no, I’m sorry, we need to be far away from smoking; how about that table over there?”

Separation into smoking and non-smoking areas is a complete and total farce (rather than just the partial farce it is in most restaurants) if there is no physical separation at all between the two sections.

The hostess did not do her job properly if it took that many requests for her to get the idea that you didn’t want to be anywhere near smokers.
I suggest you contact restaurant management to inform them of the problem and that clean air is important to you.

I think your gripe lies not with the hostess, but with the restaurant’s idea of non-smoking. I hate asking to be seated in the non smoking section, and having that section include the table right beside the smoking section, but it’s not the servers’ or the hostess’s fault. Complain to the management, they would have more control over that than the servers and hostesses!

I call Bullshit on this prima donna "medical condition. Same thing goes for you, Lynn.

How’s about a link to tell you what I’m talking about, with bolding provided by yours truly.

Got that? Neither of you are allergic to cigarette smoke because nobody is allergic to cigarette smoke, so drop the hypochondrial melodrama about smoke sending you to the hospital. It ain’t gonna happen.

Tobacco smoke can be an “allergy trigger”, in that it will worsen an already extant allergy, but no one is allergic to tobacco smoke itself. It might make you sneeze more or your eyes water harder, but Tobacco smoke will not land you in the hospital with anaphylactic shock, so you can put down the damn epi-pen. Need more cites? Happy to:link


Got that? You are not allergic to smoke. It’s probably more unpleasnt for you than it is for the rest of us due to your condition (whatever the Hell it actually is), but second hand smoke will not send you into anaphylactic shock, will not make your face bloat up, and will not send you to the hospital.

It’s only commonsensical that a hostess is going to fill the “non-smoking” seats near the smoking section early. Would you rather the seats at an extreme distance from the smoke were filled by people who are less sensitive?

No, it shouldn’t have. Next time, try replying “As far away from the smoking section as possible, please,” when you’re asked which section you want. Easy-peasy.


Smoke can trigger a severe asthma attack, leading to such severe bronchospasm that conventional inhalers are of no use, and the patient must resort to use of injected epinephrine to try to survive. At least until paramedics arrive, who can intubate if necessary.

I’ve given plenty of asthmatics doses of subcutaneous epi for such severe attacks that nebulized albuterol couldn’t break. Some of these were triggered by cigarette smoke per the patient history. I’ve even dumped epinephrine down an endotracheal tube when they were going into shock from vascular collapse and injection was fruitless.

So lets not quibble over semantics about “allergies” when lives hang in the balance.


BTW, over 5000 asthmatics die every year from their disease in the US.

Again, cigarette smoke does trigger asthma attacks, these attacks send people to the hospital, and people die from these attacks.

Allright, fair enough Quadcop, I freely admit that second hand smoke can be extremely dangerous for asthmatics. I know you don’t want to play semantics, but two of the quotes I cited even said as much. Asthmatics I have sympathy for, but I was trying to narrow it down to “allergies”. Perhaps I let a pet peeve of mine take a few ill advised swipes with its claws, but I’ve heard too many people whine about being “allergic to smoke” when they simply just don’t like it. No asthma, just a desire to hide behind a non-existant medical condition in order to get special treatment.

That may not be the case here, but Thursday Next was such a bitch to the poor hostess that I can see her and her friend going on about the nonexistant danger of anaphylactic shock (that’s how I read the face swelling thing) simply in order to get a better table.

Lynn, however, never mentioned if her condition was an allergy or asthma, so I withdraw any comments I made in her direction and apologize if I offended her in any way.

I’d say the fact that she had an epi-pen in her purse places her in the “prone to severe smoke-related asthma attacks” camp.

Monkey with a Gun , please ease out, actually, I double checked my post and never mentioned allergies; just ambiguous problems with smoke so as not to get into the debate regarding smoking/allergies/ect. As far as asthma goes, I do have that, the rest (and even that really) is irrelevant.

As for the hostess not being a mind reader, I know I didn’t explain the table setup well, and for that i apologize. I’ll do my best here as I’m more of a draw you a picture kind of chica. The seating that was the problem started with the back wall which was the bar, complete with stools. A few steps away so that waitstaff could move through were a row of tables. There is a mediun (if you will) about waist high (sorry, I realize that’s ambigious) and about 4 inches wide. On the other side non smoking begins. That’s the great divide. When she attempted to move us, she didn’t move us away from smoking, as in towards the front, away from the bar, but laterally, as in two tables down, but the same distance away from smoking (the great mediun barrier was there to protect us!) :slight_smile:

As I said earlier, we didn’t have time to talk to the manager that night. The part I left out was that when we talked to him later on, he was not happy with the situation. While we were there early in the evening, their standard plan is to have smoking people on one side in the designated smoking area and non smoking on the other side of the restaurant, to avoid anything like that. He said it would be addressed at the next staff meeting and I was a happy camper.

On the upside, I was called both a prima dona and a bitch, I suppose that’ll teach me to be much more specific with my posts, so I’ve learned something too. :wink:

This thread makes me very happy to live in Boston, where nobody can smoke any area of any restaurants. Woo-hoo!

I fail to see how a table 20 feet from another table where people are smoking can qualify as in the non-smoking question.
Smokers sometimes do not realize that the smoke (and it’s stench) carries, and that the stench lingers long after the cigarette has been extinquished.

I, too, am glad to live in state where smoking is proibited in all restaurants.

You know, I’m a smoker (if you consider 1-2 cigs a day much of a smoker) and I can’t stand eating in a resturant where people are smoking. I’m actually quite pleased about California’s smoking laws. I think smoking indoors is just rank, personally. Smoke does drift, far, especially indoors. Having a “non smoking section” that close to the smoking section is a joke. I wonder how they even get away with that?

I thought you were being a prima dona and first too, thursday next, before your clarification post, thanks for that. The hostess sounds like kind of an idiot, if you ask me. You asked her to move you further away from the smoking section, and she just moved you further down but not in fact any distance
away, as you requested. What a ditz.

And Monkey with a Gun, you’re totally arguing semantics here. If contact with tobacco smoke can trigger an asthma attack so serious that an ordinary inhaler won’t suffice, for all intents and purposes, they’re allergic. If they come in contact with tobacco smoke, it is a Very Bad Thing. They have a bad physical reaction, on par with coming in contact with something they’re allergic to. To insist they not claim they’re allergic because it doesn’t fit into the exact medical definition of the term is just splitting hairs. Saying you’re allergic to something is to communicate in a way most everyone will understand that you need to avoid it because otherwise you’ll have a bad physical reaction. I think we can give them a pass on this one.

The hostess does sound a bit dippy, but if you really are that sensitive to smoke I would suggest finding restaurants that are smoke free. If that is not possible, it is your responsibility to make the restaurant employee very aware of what you are requesting. Good restaurants are busy places, they move quickly and don’t have time to guess what you need. You’re the one with the medical problem, it is your responsibility to look out for yourself. Not the hostess. Not your friend. You. Be clear in your requests.

I understand Monkey 's frustration because many people do exaggerate their problem with smoke when it comes to health related issues. Then again, I disagree with the information he’s presented as incomplete. I’ve witnessed many people in desperate medical situations as a result of smoke.

That being said, there sure are a few people around who seem to have a medical issue for every situation brought up.

People die from falling twenty stories. Maybe they shouldn’t walk on ledges.