Source: Sherman Publications

Second opinion - Evaporating eatery etiquette

by Gabriel L. Ouzounian

January 11, 2012

Call me a petty person but it is the small things in life that annoy me the most.

People talking on their mobile phones during a movie, littering, driving under the speed limit and, the subject for the day, having a lack restaurant etiquette.

On occasion, particularly when there is company to feed, I will find my fridge conspicuously empty. Yet thankfully there are number of fine establishments that serve sustenance and reasonable prices all over Oakland County.

On one such morning I decided to visit a breakfast bistro in Rochester with my companion. We had a fantastic time.

No thanks to some of my fellow customers.

We got to the restaurant and the tiny dining room was crammed with people. We were lucky, it seemed. There was only one party ahead of us and as we were walking in, they were seated.

“No problem,” I thought. “How long can it possibly take to eat breakfast?”

Little did I know there were people far more important than I in the dining room that day. Low and behold, 15 minutes pass and the line behind us grew to six parties consisting of about 15 people. The line was out the door (not a difficult task) and new customers were beginning to turn away at the sight of the wait.

What could be the hold up?

Two people, chatting away, oblivious to the growing queue, with naught on their table but a customer receipt. Another table of six exhibiting the same manners sat on the other end of the room.

I had never thought of this particular situation, but the more I pondered the circumstances, the more I concluded this behavior was markedly rude.

I am not trying to say people should not have a good time whilst eating out - the exact opposite. I believe now, in this economy, eating out should feel like an occasional luxury and treated as such.

Yet in this particular locale - a crowded, slightly upscale breakfast bistro that sits between 20-30 people during the morning rush - being mindful of others is paramount.

It is well and good to have a nice time eating out, but when you abuse that aspect you may prove detrimental to another person’s enjoyment of the same.

It is a matter of common courtesy and shows a willingness to avoid an abundance of self-involvement.

Finally, nearly 40 minutes later, somebody finished their meal, paid their bill and left. I guess they finally got the hint.

Again, I am not trying to say what these people were doing is inherently wrong - life is about the little joys of the day where one escapes with good company to enjoy detachments from the busy work life most humans occupy.

Chatting with a good friend over coffee and an out-of-the-ordinary meal like a quiche is one of those pleasures for me, as well.

The problem occurs when someone’s enjoyment directly and negatively affects another person’s pleasure. Then that simple pleasure suddenly becomes greedy, self-absorbed and rude. These are strong words to describe what I admit was a minor inconvenience, but the hyperbole applies.

Next time you emerge from your house, think about how your actions may affect other people, be it putting something back in the wrong place at a grocer, not wiping your feet when you enter a building, or holding up the line at a small breakfast bistro.

After all, it is the small things that can make or break a good mood.

Rant No. 2 out of the way! I was disappointed with the feedback I received last month after my Christmas rant - specifically that I got nearly none. Write to me, email me, call me and tell me I’m Gabenizer Scroogonian or commend me on being so right. Either way, your feedback determines the fate of my humble column.