The hard cell: Ditch the electronics when you're in a restaurant
Welcome to In the Weeds. Kyle will be right with you -- most likely to complain about something. Usually he is pleasant, but this is his place to blow off some steam. Don't take it personally; he just needs to vent because he's been doing this for about thirteen years. Enjoy your meal.
Some days I feel like I should give a short speech when a table sits down, which would sound something like what a flight attendant delivers before the plane takes off:
"We're about five seconds from the start of the dining experience. Restrooms are located in the back left corner of the restaurant and the exit is still where you came in. As I will attempt to have adult communication with you over the next one to three hours, please power off all cell phones and other electronic devices and kindly shut the fuck up."
Whether they're punk-ass teenagers, self-important businesspeople or bored parents, there are entirely too many diners texting, talking on the phone and surfing their way through meals. Here's a thought: You're about to eat with people whose company you supposedly enjoy, so show them the courtesy of not poking at your phone every thirty seconds.
I begrudgingly acknowledge that communication is occurring more and more through texting and Facebook with rofls, ttyls and jks, but isn't a meal out with friends or family one of the last places where the English language is still supposed to be used in its full form? If you really can't make it through a meal without grabbing your phone, stay home. Even if your dining companions don't mind your inattention (although most look like they'd like to pour a drink on you, or your iPhone, or both), I do.
When I approach your table for the first time I need to tell you several things -- and you're probably in need of a drink. The cell phone attached to your ear gets in the way of both of those needs. I'll wait it out for a few seconds and hope that you feel my stare; I'll even give you a minute and check back -- once. If you're still on the phone and ignoring not just your dining companions but me, you're going to be pretty thirsty.
If you're dining solo, I'll give you a little more leeway. Still, you should remember that a restaurant is not your office or a place to park while you break up with your significant other over the phone. You already look like a tool with the bluetooth headset, so don't make it worse by shouting, "The deliverables better be on my desk by 2:30 or heads will roll!" And the entire left side of the restaurant doesn't care that your boyfriend never brings you flowers.
And don't think it's any better to walk around the restaurant with your phone. If you're texting with your head down while you wander aimlessly and I have to dodge you as I juggle four entrees, I'm going to hope you collide with an errant child who's jacked up on Mountain Dew.
Speaking of those errant children: Parents, do you know why your kids hate you? Because you spend the whole meal ignoring them and playing Scrabble online. And it probably isn't helping their ADD to let them watch a movie at full volume or play video games on their PSP. If you don't try to engage them in meaningful conversation during dinner, they're going to end up just like their parents:
Losers who play with their phone so much at dinner that servers "accidentally" spill hot coffee in their laps.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.