HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


Broken wine glass

  • b

My friend tripped and fell against a table and broke another customer's wine glass due to the lady having her purse out in the aisle and the uneven brick surface. Not thinking about it we went back to our table. Shortly, the customer that was at the table whose glass was broken came to our table asking us to make it right. That she wanted us to buy her a glass of wine. Of course we did but now I think the lady was a little bold. What is the correct etiquette? Thanks!!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. If I was the server I would have had the house replace her glass of wine. The owner I sure was thankful that he was not sued for the uneven surface and unsafe walking conditions. It was only a glass of wine. The lady should of replaced it herself if the server did not do the right thing. But upon confrontation the trippee did the right than and did not push the point.

    8 Replies
    1. re: duck833

      I agree, the house should have taken care of it, and then made sure that the aisles were walkable for guests and servers.

      1. re: duck833

        Yeah, the house should have paid for it. Definitely. It's just one of those things that you do. However, if the house did not pay for it for whatever reason, the friend who knocked over the glass should have offered to pay for another glass. And the lady should have refused. But the friend should have insisted. After all, he/she was the direct cause of the breakage. Polite does not necessarily mean fair. Etiquette can be so silly sometimes.

        1. re: hilltowner

          Hey folks, you are all nicer than me - no mention of the purse? No one should leave a purse or anything else in a pathway, just as no one should leave luggage in the aisle of an airliner. It's all about safety and common courtesy. Most restaurants' pathways between tables are very narrow, coupled with tablecloths, chairs, table legs, etc., that will further hinder one's ability to see any potential obstacles. Anyone who brings in something to a restaurant - purse, bags, presents - anything - should have the decency to assure that they don't become hazards to others. My wife downsizes her regular purse to her "restaurant" purse specifically for this reason. I think the general sense of entitlement coupled with the prevailing mindset of lacking personal responsibility that so many Americans have nowadays is reprehensible.

          1. re: bulavinaka

            The whole incident could have been prevented by this: http://www.cwdesignllc.com/servlet/St...

            My wife loves these things so much she's constantly buying them for her friends. Women in restaurants are always asking her where she got it.

            1. re: BobB

              Ah, the purse hook. My wife has a dozen, or so, and gives them as favors. They work great, and usually last for some time, before the swivle gives out.

              Now, a "proper" restaurant should have a stool for ladies' purses, and these should be placed out of any walkway.


              1. re: Bill Hunt

                But if every restaurant was a "proper" restaurant of the type to price things like purse stools into their cost structure, most people wouldn't be able to afford to eat out...


                Here's something I think everyone can agree on--we ladies should watch our purses very carefully. I now find myself scanning back through my last several dinners out to make sure that I was keeping it appropriately out of the aisle. I have no desire to cause injury to others or to lose out on a perfectly good glass of wine.

                1. re: planetjess

                  Obviously, you caught my joke. Well, maybe only half a joke.

                  I understand the problem. I often have my briefcase, and have to make sure that it's out of the way, will not interfer with the servers, my guests, or other patrons. It's also too heavy to use one of my wife's little "hangers."

                  I'm at a loss for which restaurant this was, but one recently handed out the little purse hangers. Nice touch.

                  Also, the "chef's counters" at several restaurants have hooks below, to help the ladies out. L'Atelier and Alan Wong's both do, as well as some others. Another nice touch.


            2. re: bulavinaka

              Lighting can also be part of the issue, particularly for anyone with low vision.

        2. A little bold? The woman must have had an enormous pair of solid brass ... eh, never mind.

          She's the one who left her purse in the aisle. Had she put it where it belonged (in her lap, under her table, over the back of her chair, the options are limitless) your friend would not have stumbled over it.

          If successfully laying a trap for strangers entitles you to drink for free, I'm going to start carrying banana peels in my pockets whenever I go out.

          2 Replies
          1. re: alanbarnes

            seriously. i can't imagine purse-lady had that kind of misguided nerve.

            people will never cease to amaze.

            1. re: alanbarnes

              I have a feeling it might not have been her first and only glass of wine, if you get my drift.

            2. lucky some poor server didn't go down in a hail of chilled martini glasses and hot buffalo china. . .

              1. Bold indeed. Did purse lady even ask if your friend was ok ? By her carelessness, she could have caused serious injury to someone, and her first thought was replacing the wine that was the result of that carelessness. Sheesh.

                Even if you assume that she didn't know her purse had fallen over / into the aisle or something, what kind of person's next thought is to get their wine comped ? Perhaps in the interest of keeping the peace, the restaurant could have brought another glass of wine when they came to clear away the glass, but the purse lady really should have chalked this one up to "I should have known better not to put that there".

                Purse lady is lucky this didn't result in something worse than a glass of wine being broken : aka hot liquids / dishes spilled, people falling on table corners / brick floors.

                1 Reply
                1. re: im_nomad

                  I'm sometimes a little clumsy, so I'd have offered Ms. Brass-B*lls another glass of wine as soon as I'd gotten up and dusted myself off.

                  An attentive server would do an end-run around this, bringing the wine and charging no one for it. That being said, it appears as if Ms. B-B jumped the gun. The correct thing for her to do would be to ask a member of staff to be interlocutor. It's not her place to make the demand she did of you. In fact, good news or bad, it's the staff's job to interact with patrons.

                2. I think that unless your friend actually tripped over the lady's purse/it was unquestionably the cause of the fall, I would have expected your friend to offer to replace the glass of wine before leaving the table as a polite gesture. If, however, the lady's purse really was the underlying cause, when she came over to demand a replacement, I would have sweetly replied "certainly; could you just jot down your contact details? Your purse tripped my friend, you see, and we'd like to get her ankle/neck/elbow checked out before settling on what you can do for us."

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: planetjess


                    love that one. but that's me! if purse lady caused me to trip like that, i don't think i would've just walked away when i knocked her glass of wine.

                  2. I know that kind of brick and uneven brick can be very tricky especially with some shoes.
                    If my purse were in the aisle and tripped or added to the fall, I'd feel horrible. I have to agree with others that say she was bold, and seemingly without class, but I still think it's best to not make a scene . My experience is that the waiter should of been immediate with her glass of wine, suggested she move her bag, and been very attentive to your friend that fell. They should be the concerned party. And I hope your friend was okay?

                    1. I've been on the other side of this issue. A woman walking between tables knocked over my date's full wine glass with her oversize (not my dates) purse spilling wine all over the table. She said she was sorry to have knocked over the water. And sat down at the table next to us. Refused to even acknowledge it was wine made no attempt to help clean up or even signal the server. Her and her companion then started whining about the air-conditioning. They got up squeezing by again and were seated at another table.

                      When order at our table was restored. I was going to go and confront them. She was completely at fault and should have offered to replace the glass she knocked over. The server (bless her) arrived, just as I was getting up, with a new glass of wine on the house. She jokingly apologized on behalf of the restaurant for allowing in such lousy people and thanked us for getting them out of her section.

                      1. You mention uneven bricks and a purse. Which was it that caused the fall? Don't see how both are going to be the culprit... Were other people stumbling because of the floor? Was the purse in a major pathway or between tables?
                        There's so much here that is unknown to us. I don't see how anyone here could affix blame.

                        16 Replies
                        1. re: Scargod

                          blame aside, I still think it's tacky and a little petty for the woman to do what she did, the server should have been the mediator. If nothing else, she was risking a potentially volatile confrontation, not knowing the people she went to the table for.

                          as for other people stumbling because of the floor, that doesn't necessarily have to be the case. My 70 year old mother fell from an unlit booth last summer, but my father and I had exited the booth without falling. Needless to say, despite the fact that the lighting was supposed to have been turned on and they had neglected to do so, the restaurant did little at all, it was as if they barely noticed a senior laying there on the brick floor while her family fussed around her. The server did nothing. My mother actually lay there for a few minutes while she gained her composure before being able to get up (she also got a little dizzy from the fall) eventually the employees broke away from the bar (which was close by, it was a small place) and a guy came over, but left once we had her up, then the server just rang up the bill. It wasn't until we were well on our way back to our hotel that we started to talk about how lax they were with it all, and that they were lucky that we were the kind of people we are, and not likely to kick up a big stink or yell lawsuit.

                          We were travelling at the time, and I really wish I had followed up with them in any event, the meal was not cheap, and I felt stupid for tipping well (service was otherwise fine, but I would think that if an elderly person fell out of a booth I had been serving, I might think about going over to check on them) . She was pretty stiff and sore the next day.

                          So I wouldn't always count on the server or restaurant picking up the slack either.

                          1. re: im_nomad

                            Even when we don't know very much, which is often the case with posts like this, we go on and on about what might be right, fair, honest or correct, with much conjecture and obfuscation!
                            How do we know if the woman was in the wrong? Are we rushing to the defense of a Chowhound when we have very little to go on?
                            What kind of educated comment can we really make about correct etiquette, beyond, "that's too bad"? I know the OP wants reinforcement for the position they are taking, but honestly, how can we do that? Buch hasn't said anything else....

                            1. re: Scargod

                              well why bother to ever discuss anything at all then, as every post and comment is going to be from the viewpoint of the CH and we have no "proof" of what they're saying. we may as well just have a site full of undisputed statements such as "I have been to X restaurant and it was fabulous" and no one says a word.

                              1. re: im_nomad

                                I guess, like the "Chains" board, I could choose to just not go there. Nobody's twisting my arm to read and comment on this post. However, I do find it fascinating that people ask for advice. The advice is usually free-flowing and often the advice is like assholes.

                                It is hard to give good, balanced and objective advice when the information is often couched with "look how I was wronged" or "please tell me I didn't do wrong". Posts with questions like this seem to keep coming and people like to get in their two cents, or just vent. I'm not looking for proof, I'm looking for substance in the question. When it's not there I want clarification, rather than making wildly speculative pronouncements of correctness or wrongness.

                                I remember the one time I posted this ethical question http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5650... and boy did I get chewed up and spit out, when I was less than serious in the first place.
                                I think some that make odd posts sometimes run and hide and wished they hadn't made the comments in the first place. Many don't wan't any negative backlash.

                              2. re: Scargod

                                I'm with Scargod. There's too little information, and while, no, people do not need to write a treatise in the first post, as threads are discussions, it would be worth hearing more, and there's not problem asking for more information before rushing to judgement.

                                There's little information to go on. The OP tells us the fall was due to the purse and an uneven path, but that immediately after the fall, they go straight to their table. It is here that communication would be nice: a check on everyone's part. If you were sitting at a table, some people fell on it hard enough to break your glass (was she hit by glass, by spilled wine?) and then they just walk off without a word, how might you feel? There is no word about an injury sustained by the OP's friend, so I wonder if the two went back, carried on an animated conversation, and showed no remorse in the face of the damage (however inadvertent) they caused. The other woman may not have been correct, who knows, but I can see how a situation which transpires with a stunning lack of empathy all around can lead to this kind of escalation and anger.

                            2. re: Scargod

                              The OP said that the friend "tripped and fell against a table and broke another customer's wine glass due to the lady having her purse out in the aisle and the uneven brick surface."

                              Of course there might be facts we don't know. Maybe the description of events is slanted in the friend's favor. Maybe those events never happened at all. But if everybody here had to submit to a deposition before anyone would answer their questions, it would tend to stifle discussion.

                              The facts as they were presented were that the purse in the aisle was a cause of the fall. Under those facts, the person who left the purse there is probably responsible.

                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                Alan, I know you are a lawyer, and I have great respect for lawyers... but the statement included a combination of three things: the uneven floor, the purse and two people, together, making a trip to somewhere in the restaurant.
                                While I am not suggesting either way who is at fault, I wonder which precipitated what? Did the purse cause a stumble and the uneven floor made it difficult to recover or did the uneven floor cause them to tag the purse in a misstep? How much was the purse in the isle? Was the OP helping the faller/crasher go somewhere? Did they need help to walk?

                                I think my SO was on track when she said the person falling into the table should have apologized and offered to buy the person a drink. Very often, when a conciliatory gesture is made it gives the other person some wiggle room to say, "no, no, it was partly my fault".
                                I was struck, when I first read the second sentence: "Not thinking about it we went back to our table." I thought, "who would not think anything of the incident?" The person "bold" after they acted like nothing happened? There was NO exchange at all when the incident occurred? That seems odd.

                                As far as a deposition, the OP is asking etiquette advice and has given minimal, vague information and not responded to questions that might enlighten us. Far from a deposition and they didn't say, "I swear".

                                1. re: Scargod

                                  scargod, if the purse was in ANY WAY a contributing factor in the fall (and there was injury to the faller), then the purse-placer could likely be sued successfully for negligence. it needn't be the sole factor.

                                  1. re: Scargod

                                    "I was struck, when I first read the second sentence: "Not thinking about it we went back to our table." I thought, "who would not think anything of the incident?" The person "bold" after they acted like nothing happened? There was NO exchange at all when the incident occurred? That seems odd."

                                    Your interpretation of this is a little different than mine, I also see "not thinking clearly". If I fell in a restaurant, I might feel a little shock or embarassment in addition to any ouch factor, and I might proceed to my table to sit and maybe check myself out, rather than instantly thinking of offering up another glass of wine (particularly if the other person also didn't offer some conciliatory gesture much in the same was as when two people bump into each other in the street, usually both will apologize, or I do )

                                    Besides which, I think read up further somewhere that the tripper did apologize before leaving the table.

                                    1. re: im_nomad

                                      There is no other post by the Buch, the OP, after starting the thread. Now, will people refer to your comment of "not thinking clearly" and attribute it to Buch?

                                      They were going to or from their table. The use of "we went back to our table", indicates that it might have happened as you say (their trip was cancelled). Perhaps they did lose their composure and perhaps the person might have said something or done something, if given time. All conjecture. What fun!

                                      1. re: im_nomad

                                        Given that Buch has not been back to provide information, there's no way to know what happened. No report of an apology.

                                        Again, I wonder about the lack of empathy on display: Yes, this woman showed some chutzpah coming up to the table, but I wonder about the moments between the stumble to the table and this encounter. Perhaps people faced with broken glass and spilled wine and not a word from those who made it happen aren't feeling at their best and most sensible.

                                        Seriously, this woman may not have known about her bag or anything. It may be-- based on the account that Buch gave-- that there is a woman who felt completely jolted and jostled without a word or anything from people who proceeded to move along to their table to sit and have a natter.

                                        I'm not saying she was correct in her response, but I think it would be nice if people could see it from the other side. If this woman posted here, I wonder if hounds would be commiserating over the oafs who trod all over this woman's bag, slammed her table, and broke a glass without saying pardon or even acknowledging her existence.

                                        Buch, the situation sounds like it pretty much sucked all the way around, and it's a shame that a server wasn't immediately on it to ensure everyone was ok, and to diffuse whatever emotions might have been running high. I think when people are shocked and taken aback, they don't always behave as they would like or should like. Sometimes we're so embarrassed we might retreat without thinking. Some others are more aggressive and move into confrontation mode.

                                        It's not a satisfying thing, because there is no way to change the past event. But trying to create a narrative of right and wrong here (or invoking 'etiquette') is preventing us from thinking about how to handle such encounters (where everyone involved might feel like the injured party) in the future.

                                      2. re: Scargod

                                        Who ever said I was a lawyer? When I find out who started that rumor, I'm gonna sue 'em for libel. ;-)

                                        I agree that the appropriate thing to do in a situation like that is for everybody to be conciliatory. At the very least, everybody should have apologized to each other on the spot (the friend for tripping over the purse and the woman for having left it in the aisle in the first place) and checked to make sure no damage was done beyond a spilled glass of wine. And as others have noted, restaurant staff should have been out there dealing with the situation and defusing it if necessary.

                                        But that didn't happen. Instead, the person with the purse went out of her way to initiate a confrontation. IMHO that's the point at which it becomes okay to put down the etiquette book and start evaluating her assignment of the blame.

                                        I also agree that we don't have all the facts. And now that you point it out, the facts we do have ring a little funny. More information would certainly be helpful. To make matters worse, others have noted that the first post in this thread is the OP's one and only contribution to Chowhound. All of which brings visions of trolls to mind. But I do think we have enough info here to make at least a preliminary call.

                                        From a legal standpoint, if the purse was **a** cause of the fall (not necessarily **the** cause), then the person who put it there is liable if doing so showed a lack of ordinary care for the safety of others. Those who brought about the other causes (the unevenness of the floor, the failure to keep an eye out for trip hazards, etc.) are also responsible, usually in proportion to the degree of their fault.

                                        Assuming that the information provided by the OP is correct - even if it is incomplete - the purse was a cause of the fall. Its owner was therefore at least partially responsible for the spilled wine, and was out of line demanding a replacement.

                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                          Then again, given the fact that this woman was so hung up on having someone else pay to replace her glass of wine, chances are decent that she wouldn't have been the deep pocket in this situation as compared to, say, the restaurant's liability insurer, so her degree of fault ends up being a bit of a moot point.

                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                            I wouldn't want to challenge you in court about it....
                                            A number of things ring funny to me about this post. A first-time poster doesn't help. Something like a disgruntled restaurant employee would do. We might be getting duped.

                                            1. re: Scargod

                                              I suspect you're right. But who needs any connection with reality, so long as the discussion is stimulating?

                                          2. re: Scargod

                                            Even a non-lawyer who has no great respect for lawyers (other than for AB) can see that your non-lawyerly claim to have great respect for lawyers is a canard, and I don't mean a duck or wing part.

                                      3. The lady had a set, no doubt - the nerve! You should've responded, "sure I'll buy you a glass of wine, now can I have your name, address and liability insurance carrier so I can send you my medical bills for the twisted ankle I suffered because your dumb a** left your purse in the aisle?"

                                        The house has a standard/duty of care they owe you (and her). You were a business invitee and as such are entitled to visit the resto's premises and be protected from unsafe/hazaradous conditions. The uneven bricks and the purse created a hazardous condition that the resto should have been aware of. Therefore, IMHO, the house if anyone should have replaced her crummy glass of wine.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: lynnlato

                                          lynnlato, not only are we bacon sisters, we are kickass-i-ain't-takin'-your-b.s.- sisters!

                                          1. re: alkapal

                                            I just read this as I was eating my morning bacon - Ha! You're damn right, AP - Good thing my husband is even-tempered when a cooler head is needed to come me down. I guess that little bit of Sicilian blood in me rises up at times like these. Ha!

                                            1. re: lynnlato

                                              mr. alka sometimes get mortified thinking about what i "might" say. i'm getting better about that, but do have some passionate celtic blood flowing through these veins. add the cherokee, and now we're talkin'!

                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                I've got the Cherokee, too. Most of the rest came down from Quakers. It takes a lot to get me riled up. It is seldom spontaneous, but look out when it happens!

                                        2. You should have asked to speak with the management. You should have told them the story and made sure they saw the purse in the aisle and that the woman was asking you to purchase a replacement glass of wine.
                                          I can't imagine an establishment that wouldn't have bent over backward to make things right.
                                          The woman, and the management, was lucky your friend didn't fall onto the table, nevermind breaking a wineglass.

                                          1. Question 1 - Should the customer who tripped pay for the wine? If the cause of the fall was the purse and it was in the aisle, absolutely not. Purse owner is responsible. If the bricks had some input, then double no for the customer who tripped. The way jfood reads the OP the glass of wine was owned by someone else at the purse owner's table. It was the glass owner, not the purse owner, who approached the tripped person's table, not the purse owner.

                                            Question 2 - Should the customer have approaced the table to ask to make it right? Major social faux pas. That person was of legal drinking age 21, but had the numbers reversed and acted like a 12 year old.

                                            Question 3 - What the heck was the server doing at this time? As others have stated, the server should have done two things. First, make sure wine and glass are cleaned up. Second, immediately bring another glass of wine to the table. Likewise, simultaneously the MOD should have intervend to make sure everyone was OK and de-escalate any other events.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: jfood

                                              "age 21, but had the numbers reversed and acted like a 12 year old."

                                              This had me laughing out loud! I agree!

                                              1. re: shaogo

                                                wow... no way i would have humored the lady. i would have called over the restaurant manager to resolve the issue. i certainly wouldn't be paying for her glass of wine.

                                                don't really have enough info. the OP mentions teh purse and the uneven brick. not clear what really drove it and don't really know where the purse actually was. but, it's almost irrelevant.

                                                because, what i'm not understanding is what happened after the OP decided to buy the glass of wine... did he call over a waiter and ask him / her to bring a glass of wine to replace the one that was knocked over? Was the glass of wine then simply brought to the table and charged to the OP? Did the OP explain the situation to whoever he ordered the wine from? It just seems so weird that at no point did someone from the restaurant "make things right".