Good manners while eating out are necessary, but sometimes they seem to be a forgotten attribute. It appears that some people just don’t know how to act.
For example, if you are eating dinner in a nice restaurant, you probably don’t appreciate seeing diners in T-shirts (or muscle shirts) and baggy jeans halfway down their you-know-what. That doesn’t appeal to many in this world.
Of course when eating with others, the conversation becomes an important aspect. But you should be mindful of how loud it is. You probably don’t want to hear private talk at other tables, so be careful to use your indoor voice (even if eating on the patio). Sometimes it’s difficult if there is a high noise level where you are dining. Just make sure yours is not the loudest voice in the room.
No doubt it is irritating to get food stuck in your teeth, but it’s also annoying to watch someone using a toothpick or floss to remove it. If you can’t leave it alone, go to the restroom and take care of it there.
I believe it’s rude to make phone calls at the table. The same goes for receiving them and continuing to talk. You can always tell the caller you are dining and you will call them later. This would not apply to emergencies, but would include texting. Some people text all the time, and it drives me crazy.
I received good advice years ago that religion and politics should not be discussed while dining out. There are probably other topics that should be included on that list. A restaurant experience should be for relaxation and enjoyment (especially the food), and strife should be avoided.
Some restaurants frown on a lot of separate checks. It’s OK to split the bill two ways or maybe three, but if everyone in your party wants to pay for their own meal, make sure you ask the waiter at the outset if it’s all right, or at least advise him what you want to do.
Here’s a personal story about separate checks. I was in Florida several months ago with three girlfriends. At the end, we asked for four separate checks, and he told us the manager wouldn’t allow it. We asked to talk to the manager, and he refused. He was from Michigan, and he knew we were all from Ohio because we had been discussing it with him. He gave us one check, and when we got our money together and paid, we left him a very small tip because of his rudeness. He actually stalked us as we left the restaurant yelling at us about the tip. It was the worst case of poor service I have ever experienced.
So my advice when dining in restaurants is, make sure you use good manners to ensure your experience is a pleasant one.
(Melanie Behrens – firstname.lastname@example.org)
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