This is a true story. I was dining out with a friend and an acquaintance (who was close friends with my friend).

Back story: the acquaintance was jealous of how well her friend and I were getting along and seemed to feel threatened by our friendship.

This woman (the acquaintance) was sitting opposite me and I was sitting next to our mutual friend.

She has a habit of spitting sometimes when she talks. She spat and her saliva landed on my plate in my food. No one else noticed this. There was no way I was going to continue eating from that plate, but I wasn't even half way through my meal.

How can I handle this? What options can I possibly have besides saying I feel full? Is there any way to bring up the fact she spits while she talks sometimes?


3 Answers 3


What a sticky situation!

In a one on one setting, I would be direct and apologetic. Usually the person will feel a little embarrassed, and I would be as warm and reassuring as I could be, and we could reorient where my food was situated to make sure that everyone is comfortable. One-on-one, it is often a great kindness to tell people about a problem they are unaware of, as it can save them from future embarrassment.

In a group setting, however, it would depend on how the conversation itself was going. Some people seem like they would immediately be okay with directness. In that case, go for it!

However, if you don't get that sense, I would say nothing. The risk of a public humiliation is too great. My options, then:

  1. Pretend to examine something on the table, such as the decorative flowers, and pull them over to be in front of my plate.

  2. Wait until the person gets up to go to the bathroom, wait a moment and also get up, and see whether there is some opening in which I can mention this information. (This is a desperate act)

  3. Say nothing at the meal, pretend I am rather full, and never mention anything about it again, especially to the other people present.

The cost of humiliating someone in front of others is simply too high for the comfort of a single meal. If the meal is extremely important (ie. before climbing a mountain, or some sort of fasting period) I would just eat it. People spit on each other's food all the time, and usually no one notices, and people are rarely ever harmed. It's icky, but I would just assume that this was one of the regular times.

  • yep I like the options. I didn't say anything, I just finished eating.
    – user57
    Jun 28, 2017 at 12:06
  • I'm sorry you had to go through that, and I suspect you did the right thing. Good for you, not embarrassing someone :)
    – Ben I.
    Jun 28, 2017 at 12:15
  • 1
    An option not mentioned: quarantine the portion of food that got spit on to one side of your plate and don't eat it. Unless it's something like soup or stew, the saliva hasn't touched the rest of the food so it's still good to eat.
    – Jay
    Aug 16, 2017 at 20:16

A similar thing happened to me too.

When I was eating in a hotel, a person just washed his hand and while walking, he shook his hand and the water just reached my plate.

But since it was completely a stranger, I didn't behave politely.

In your case

It is a friend of your friend. So, If you behave rudely, it will affect the relationship between you and your friend.

So, you can just tell this to your friend and ask your friend to tell this to the corresponding person later.

Or you can directly say You should be more careful while talking. Maybe you didn't notice, but you are spitting while talking.

Say it politely because it is a friend of your friend.

  • it's gross isn't it?
    – user57
    Jun 28, 2017 at 11:02
  • 2
    yes. That's why I mentioned an incident from my life. It is a stranger and I talked him in very rude manner.
    – Sagar VD
    Jun 28, 2017 at 11:03
  • But in your case, you can't do that because you value the friendship
    – Sagar VD
    Jun 28, 2017 at 11:04
  • 1
    yes it's tricky
    – user57
    Jun 28, 2017 at 11:09
  • The stranger made several bad choices here--like not drying their hands before leaving the washroom (I've not dried them quite enough, but if you can fling water, that's bad) and, probably, walking too close to someone sitting. So I don't blame you for being upset.
    – aschultz
    Jun 30, 2017 at 2:59

I suppose this is the reason why we say to children "don't talk with your mouth full". Not only is it disgusting to see people's mushed up food in their mouth, it also creates a window of opportunity for food to come out.

I wouldn't say anything, because I would be too embarrassed to say anything. I wouldn't know how to bring it up, because I don't want to embarrass the person. For me, it would be easier to avoid the situation and thus not saying anything. For example, pretend I didn't like the food or wasn't hungry. Also next time you go out together you eat at the side, not facing (in front) of her.

  • Could you elaborate? Why is this a good solution? We expect more from our answers than just one-liners.
    – JAD
    Nov 23, 2017 at 17:16

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