Absence Of Etiquette Invades Eateries


August 07, 1991|By Russ Mullaly

Has anyone noticed that rudeness and lack of consideration in publicplaces seem to be spreading? That more and more people don't seem toknow or care how to act in public?

We all know how things have degenerated in movie theaters, where people talk and make noise while viewing a film. Remember the incident in a Columbia movie theater where one young man assaulted another because he was asked to please be quiet so others could enjoy the film?

This is why video rentals are popular. It's cheaper and you have control over the atmosphere in the viewing area. I've heard people say they will never attend a movie at a theater again because of people's inability to conduct themselves properly in public.

When I was a teacher at the middle school level, we, the sixth-grade team, attempted to teach pupils public manners by conducting assemblies where weexplained how one is to act in public. Obviously this skill is not widely taught in the home anymore.

Getting back to my latest societal gripe, I find that this public rudeness or lack of caring about others has spread to eating places. Recently, I took my family to a favorite local Oriental restaurant. What ensued there made us feel as ifwe were part of a Woody Allen movie or some TV sitcom.

Now I'm talking about a regular restaurant -- not a fast-food joint but a placewhere you are seated, and a waiter comes and takes your order, and you have real silverware and cloth napkins. We've been to this restaurant numerous times and have never before experienced what I hope wereonly the aberrations of a single night.

It seemed like we were there for Loud and Rude Persons Night. When we arrived, at a table to my right was what appeared to be three generations of a family: an older couple and a younger couple with a child about 7 or 8.

They conversed loudly about what was wrong with the country at a volume our elected representatives in Washington could probably almost hear. Theyalso allowed their young son to be loud and express his opinions about the food so the chef could probably hear him in the confines of the kitchen.

Just as they were leaving, a couple entered the dining area and recognized the party. The newcomers were seated directly behind me. Their departing friends began to engage in a boisterous conversation with the new arrivals that rivaled a loud backyard barbecue. Inanities were exchanged for what seemed an eternity.

You think the fun was over? Not by a long shot. These folks

behind us were equally loud. If they were after-dinner speakers, no microphones would be required. After they finally decided what to order, the poor waitress assisted them through the process of ordering. The gentleman repeatedly tried to request something not included with the combination plate he'd ordered.

When their dinners came, we thought there might be a lull in the action, but they continued to talk at the same volume, even with their mouths full. Several times the man complained thathe couldn't find any shrimp in his dinner. Well, it seems he gave the waitress the wrong number for the combination plate he wanted. The meal he ordered didn't have shrimp in it. The maitre d' got involved and the diner bristled when it was suggested he might have ordered a dinner without shrimp. (At this point, my wife considered lobbing a couple of her shrimp onto the man's plate in hopes of shutting him up.)

The maitre d' offered to take the meal back and bring the "correct" one. "No, no, just throw some shrimp in it, and it'll be OK," thediner insisted. Eventually another meal was brought to the man, who muttered about missing some items from his original plate and how they could have just thrown some shrimp in it.

I sincerely hope this adventure in dining is not the wave of the future.

P.S.: Guess where the couple planned to go next after dinner? Yup! To the movies!!

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