Sometimes I feel like I have become a 90 year-old man with a crotchety attitude way before my time. This is especially true when it comes to etiquette. It makes me physically ill watching how people behave in public today. The biggest offenses seem to take place in restaurants.
How hard is it to know, understand, comprehend and follow standards of restaurant etiquette? When will people start to remember that when you are eating lunch, dinner or even just an afternoon snack at a restaurant you aren’t at your home? You aren’t in a private living room. You should behave with a certain level of decorum and respect those around you.
Over the past few months I have collected a few episodes that particularly have offended me and have helped me to create my list of Restaurant Etiquette Fails. If you find yourself performing one of these behaviors while at a restaurant please turn to the table next to you, apologize for interrupting their meal and then ask them to kindly slap you across the face.
We’ve all seen the Sex and the City episode where Samantha gets yelled at for talking on her cell phone. It’s becoming more standard to see people using cell phones at tables, but the new offense I have witnessed not once, but twice over the past month is when people are at a restaurant and decide it is necessary to put their cell phones on speaker. Naturally, they find this more convenient so they can talk on the phone and eat their food.
The issue is that you aren’t at home. You aren’t at a private venue. You are at a restaurant. You are disturbing others around you who are paying for an enjoyable meal out. Turn the phone off speaker or take your meal to go.
The most shocking thing about the two times I have seen this happen over the past month is that both times the failure was conducted by adults, not young people. The first failure was committed by a woman who appeared to be in her 50’s and the second was committed by a couple who both appeared to be in their late 30’s. If it were teenagers maybe I could just blame stupidity of being teens.
For years I thought it was rude to even have your cellphone visible at a restaurant. I’ve let go of that frustration. In fact, I’ve realized that is just a part of modern civilization, even if annoying at times… none-the-less I do believe people need to keep the volume and phone conversations to themselves. If I can hear both sides of the conversation from another table you are rude and you have failed.
Is this an issue everywhere or is it just because of where I live? Here in Los Angeles, particularly around Beverly Hills and West Hollywood I am finding more and more people carrying their dogs into restaurants. That’s right, into restaurants. I’m talking about inside the physical restaurant. I’m not speaking about leaving the dog out front, or tied up on a patio where people are eating. I’m speaking about inside the physical restaurant.
I’m also not talking about service dogs. I’m just referring to your average house pet. Pets are not meant to be inside restaurants. If you want your dog to be with you while you eat inside then go home. Take your food to go. Get fast-food or something. Don’t, however, take your dog inside a restaurant.
The newest law in California governing dogs in restaurants allows dogs to be on patios and outdoor seated areas given that the outdoor area has a separate entrance so that dogs don’t have to be marched through dining rooms or interior of restaurants which is still not allowed. Dogs in restaurants causes health concerns and annoyances to customers. Use commonsense.
The law in the state of California is clear and as a dog owner I love it because it allows me to bring my dog to restaurants with me as long as I:
- Leave my dogs on their leashes.
- Leave my dogs off tables and chairs.
- Leave my dogs outside of the restaurant.
- Leave my dogs away from food preparation areas.
These are four very simple and reasonable rules to follow. This weekend I witnessed a woman complete both fail 2 and 3 in one meal. After walking her dog through the restaurant she then took her dog out to the patio. Once outside she grabbed two glasses of water. One for her and one for her dog! That’s right, she got her dog a human glass of water.
I assumed she was going to set the glass on the floor… but then I was blown away by what I saw next. The woman sat her dog in the chair next to her at the table. The dog put its paws on the table and drank out of the cup right there at the patio tables.
I watched in astonishment as the employees at Mendocino Farms allowed this woman to treat the restaurant like her own personal home. I don’t care how rich or important this woman may have thought she was… she wasn’t that important or rich. Have some manners!
Fail 4: Appropriate Attire
This is an etiquette fail Americans have been committing at venues across the map for years. From restaurants to theaters people aren’t respecting etiquette these days. While I lived in New York City from 2007 – 2013 I loved going to the theater to see plays and musicals. The thing that really took the experience down a notch for me always were the tourist wearing sweats and janky t-shirts.
The same goes for formal and nice restaurants. People! It isn’t that hard to research where you are going. We live in a digital age. If you are going to a 5-star restaurant dress for a 5-star restaurant. If you are going to the theater dress like you are going to the theater. When you aren’t in your house watching The Price is Right you shouldn’t be dressed like you are sitting on your couch watching The Price is Right with a bag of chips.
Waiters and Waitresses work for tips. Federally, the minimum wage for cash wage tipped employees is only $2.13. Thankfully in California it is much higher, but still not enough and still not an excuse to not tip your wait staff. They are performing a service for you. They deserve to be paid. They deserve a minimum of 15%. If you have issues during your meal ask for a manager, but don’t be a jerk (although sometimes I am a jerk I have to admit. None-the-less I still leave a tip).
Class isn’t for everyone, but we can all attempt to show a little class regardless.