CMH Gourmand

Eat, Drink, Repeat: Culinary Discovery & Misadventure in Central Ohio

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Don’t Be a Dining Douche Bag

Posted by cmh gourmand on December 19, 2014

I’m feeling extra hum buggy. So let’s discuss some of what inspires that. The fall and decline of civility in Western civilization as experienced at public eateries. Consider this a complimentary addendum to my Restaurant Rants series of a while back. There is a certain type of person that drains the life from the rest of us wherever they go. To better understand the slice of the pie these folks operate in outside of a restaurant I have some examples below.

There are examples those that plague us. You know who I am writing about, they:

take 17 or more items to the 12 items or less lane

take at least two parking spaces in a crowded lot

don’t flatten cardboard boxes before putting them in a public recycling dumpster / and or leave stuff outside the dumpster like mattresses or bags of trash

don’t toot or honk their horn, they lay on it long and hard and for no good reason

cluster in a crowded buffet line moving slow, lingering too long as if each item choice was a life or death decision

at a crowded party – they pick the area that needs to be the most efficient path of quick flow back and forth and plant themselves there – parked in front of the table of food, blocking access to drinks or cozy in physically blocking the egress from pre party to party central

They take a third donut before making sure everyone else got at least one.

Yes…. those people.

So what type of behaviors are causing my disdain when observed in restaurants? Well here we go.

Cell Phone Use:
Let’s treat cell phones in restaurants and public spaces like we to treat them in air travel – turn it off when we start the journey and not back on until the end.

OK, so you say that can’t work, then how about another option. Take the cell phone, turn the ringer off and place it where you can’t reach it easily or face down on the table and then engage in the company of your guest(s) or a book or enjoy the sound of silence in your mind.

If you get a call and you can not ignore it, take your phone and yourself and walk to the entrance or an area where your boring conversation is not going to disrupt my digestion.

One initiative I would like to see. Somewhere, there has to be is a warehouse with thousands of phone booths in storage, stacked on each other. It would be great to bring those back and place in restaurants so people could walk inside them to take calls. Let’s do that.

Vapor Smokers
Even if there is not a sign that says no e-cigarettes or vapors in the dining area, just don’t do it. When you use your device in a restaurant space you look like a douche.

Smoking
Don’t chain smoke by the entrance and don’t ditch your butts on the ground by the entrance, I don’t want that smell before or after my meal.

Tipping

We all think we know the rules. The first rule of tipping is to tip. The second rule is don’t overtip for average or less service and don’t undertip for exceptional service. Doing so throws the world into chaos.

Do you tip when you pick up a carry out order?

I say no, others say yes. I still say no, unless the restaurant employee went above and beyond by wrapping your food exquisitely or putting in an insane amount of extras like wet naps.

Do you tip at a buffet?
I say yes. But I’m still not sure how much. I usually do one dollar or two. One dollar for having someone bring me a drink and taking the plates away. Two dollars for refilling the drink with vigor and not making eye contact when I eat like a farm animal.

For tipping some say the baseline is 15% others (typically wives and girlfriends say 20% is the baseline). I say base the tip on service and that 20% is not a default but also weigh in some factors into the tip.

1) How busy is the place?

2) If the place was busy and the server made you feel it was not, then 20% and over for sure.

3) If my server struggled to met minimum expectations and only had my table – I might not tip 15%, if they had 10 tables and I could see one of the tables was full of dining douches then I’m going to tip on the high-end.

Dining douches don’t tip well under any circumstance. That is a fact.

Start with 15% – if service exceeds the baseline – then 20% or more. Those are just suggestions. But tip and tip with some thought that the person serving you will probably appreciate you tipping them more than 5%.

Kids in Restaurants

Kids in restaurants is not an issue. The issue is how their parents fail to feel that the rest of the restaurant guests and employees should have to endure their inability to parent effectively….or ever. Restaurants do not serve as baby sitting facilities or places where kids should run back and forth screaming and shouting and basically being amuck. If your can’t control your kids and yourself don’t leave your home.

If you want some more tips on dining with kids, check with Mrs. Breakfast (with Nick)

Noise
When you are in a public place use your inside voice. Or more importantly, use the voice I would use inside a public space which would be a 4 on scale of 10.

You have been there – the people next to you are loud or worse they are loud and obnoxious or even worse they are loud, obnoxious and drunk and no where close to asking for their check. I really hate people like that and I find this type of behavior more often at more places. As the esteemed Nick Offerman said “Its better to have 8 people with one beer each, than to have one dude with eight beers.” Oh drunk people. Typically annoying sober people are really annoying drink people and they thrive on projecting that annoying behavior to as many people as possible. If you want to annoy people with being loud and obnoxious go to an OSU game.

What can you do? You can ask them to be quiet which is awkward and rarely effective or you can ask management to ask them to shut up or you can ask your server to get you another table – if they have space – they will do it. I’ve done in more than a couple of times. You paid for a meal with also included a side of ambiance so don’t be afraid to get your moneys worth. You paid for a meal not to endure a pack of assholes.

Special Orders….don’t upset us?

We seem to have so many people with food issues these days. Some are legit, some are “self-created.” People have gluten issues, special diets, vegans, vegetarians, etc. I’m all for asking for adjustments to a menu – hold the onions, substitute fries for a salad, etc. Most businesses can and are happy to make adjustments if needed. But asking and expecting are two different things. I can’t count the times I’ve overheard people demanding what seem like multiple and ludicrous adjustments to their entire order. It goes beyond the level of Meg Ryan’s character in When Harry Met Sally. All I can say is if these people get their food spit into, they had it coming. If you are going to a place to eat and feel you need to ask for a modification to each item you order, then you made a bad choice – so politely explain that with your server and leave.

The Customer is not always right

Complaining:
Having worked in the service industry I can say, the customer is not always right. Often if they are almost right or wrong but asking nicely, you give them a recourse to their real or perceived wrong. However sometimes customers are both wrong and rude and that should not be rewarded no matter what the threat is. Assholery should never be rewarded.

If you have an issue with a meal or food you were served your first course of action is not to get on your phone to write a negative review. Address it with the manager of the place and if they don’t address the issue or don’t care at all that you had a bad experience, then go online and go to town.
And if you have a legitimate concern, do know that a good business wants to know if they missed the mark with you and they will want to fix it for you and know it is something they need to address to provide good service for all of their customers. Identifying an issue to be resolved is proactive. Creating and issue online about something that was an easy fix is reactive and douchebaggishness.

Time Management
You paid for a meal not rent at the table. Take your time to enjoy your meal. Enjoy the company of your friends and family. However, if it is a busy night and other people are waiting over an hour for a table and you can see the place is packed and bordering on anarchy….enjoy your stay but don’t linger. When you are done….leave, don’t hog your table chatting away and asking for multiple water refills. Have your credit card ready for your bill and expedite your ass out the door.

Herd Behavior
The larger the group, the more issues they create and compound for the restaurant and by default the rest of us that could get seats. The large groups typically have no plan for sharing payment and most of the members underrate what they ate and drank and then the table comes up short for the communal bill and we all end up waiting longer for the tables and the server gets a crappy tip because people can’t do math or fail to recognize the rule of herd eating – it is going to be 40% less fun and should cost you 30% more than what the menu says and what you expected because at least one of the members of your pack is a low down, dirty, cheap skate. The weakest link in the chain always skimps on their share, makes the meal longer and less fun and makes group activities as dreaded as group assignments in graduate school.

It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure in bad behavior

Your server is a person not a plaything. Don’t make them endure your bad jokes, poor or worse wardrobe choices – dirty tank tops with shorts that are too tight, sexist jokes or act as a babysitter for your kids while you linger at the bar. Some servers and bartenders are bad. Recently I have started to feel that the bad ones are made worse and the good ones are made average by the soul sucking behavior of dining douche bags. So the moral of this story. Don’t be a dining douche.

4 Responses to “Don’t Be a Dining Douche Bag”

  1. Chuck said

    Love it.

  2. Delonda said

    Spot on.

  3. MC said

    Agree with everything except the tipping. I’m guessing you’ve never been a server (I think everyone should work as a server at some point in his/her life. It’s a lot harder than it seems). Start with 18-20% and go from there (unless the service is bad. Then 10-15% is the minimum. When I was a server, I was disappointed by anything less than 20% (I worked hard), but usually got at least that much.

    And I’m not sure I can understand why you would reduce a tip if the restaurant was busy. How is that the server’s fault? If food is late or comes out wrong, that’s usually not the server–it’s the kitchen–even if the place is dead. If service really is lacking, a better idea is to leave a decent tip, but speak with a manager. If you leave a bad tip, the server will just think you’re cheap and not that they provided bad service.

    • Hello MC,

      My main point is that DD’s don’t tip or don’t tip well. I did not say tip less if the place is busy, I explained that I tip more if a place ia busy and my server was able to balance everything (under his or her control) to the point where I did not notice. Tipping is important many people don’t get that.

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