Don't Touch that Plate!

It happened again on Saturday night. I was sitting in a restaurant with my husband, chatting and enjoying my salad. Don't touch that plate!

Suddenly a waiter swooped in and took Hub's plate away. The server stayed around a bit, sweeping crumbs off the table. It took tremendous self-control for me not to grab him by the shirt and holler, "Don't touch that plate!"

My husband was done. He always finishes his food first. I don't notice, and neither does he -- or if he does, he's not annoyed that I'm still eating. That's our pace. Once the server cleared Michael's place, though, I felt self-conscious about eating slowly. I felt rushed, as if the table-clearing were a clear message that I should hurry the heck up. And pissy. I felt very pissy.

To me, it seems like bad manners to remove any plates after a course until everyone has finished eating. Friends say I'm wrong, that the service would be faulty if some diners were forced to sit with dirty plates in front of them.

What are the official service rules? Aside from the rules, what do you think about this?

Eat quickly or you'll feel like a dope,