Weekly Tip from Your Server: Put the Cell Phone Down

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A cell phone-lit dinner is what you often see looking around restaurant dining rooms in the Western world these days. Sounds romantic, doesn't it? Everywhere, there's that blue glow highlighting the blemishes, under-eye bags, and chins of diners who send electronic messages through invisible radiowaves in the air.

As a server, I frequently witness members of the same party texting away while dining, and it's just as common in the case of couples as larger groups. At times I can't help imagining scenarios in which some phone users are Twittering about the extra lettuce on a salad or updating their Facebook status about how fascinating a date is. But truly, it's depressing how common it's become to blatantly show disinterest toward one's dining companions by not being fully present.

Weekly tip from your server: Hang up your phone and eat.

The dinner table is for socializing, not social networking. I refuse to take orders from customers who are on the phone. With several parties to juggle, I don't have the time to stand by waiting for someone to stop tapping or finish a call, so I'll simply keep an eye on them and when they've hung up, I'll approach the table. I understand that it's occasionally necessary to check in with the babysitter or take an expected call from a colleague, but I'm baffled by those who text back and forth, go on Facebook and Twitter, gossip and conduct elaborate business deals at the table.

As a common courtesy, if not because everyone around you is armed with a sharp knife and fork, disconnect from the online world and connect with your tablemates face to face.



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Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

I think a lot of people missed the point here, which is this: "The dinner table is for socializing, not social networking."

I can't imagine a time five or six years ago where I would have gone to dinner with a friend or a group and ignored them while I read a book or typed on my laptop or used my cell phone to call another friend and talk to them instead. Yet that's exactly what people are doing when they sit and fiddle with Twitter or Facebook or any number of other apps on their smartphones...instead of eating dinner and being present with the people who are actually there.

Methinks some people here doth protest too much...

Kyle
Kyle

Is it? What if all my friends like to internet on their phones at dinner too? Some people are offended when people mess with their phones at dinner and other people just see it as a normal part of life, just another avenue of communication.

Maybe I got interested about something I was served. Maybe I want to look up nutritional information. Maybe I'm text-messaging to coordinate for us to meet up with friends later.

And sure, it's always a matter of context. Are we out to a nice dinner, are we on a date, or are we just grabbing a bite before a show or on the way to somewhere else? Eating dinner isn't necessarily a social event, sometimes it's just eating. Am I allowed to text when I'm walking back to the car with my dining companions? I can't text while I'm driving, right? And when we're out for drinks later I guess I shouldn't text then, either?

The dinner table is for eating. And sometimes socializing.

Skyscrapershadow
Skyscrapershadow

"What if all my friends like to internet on their phones at dinner too?"

Time to find some new friends.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Perhaps I should have added "everything in moderation," but I tend to think that goes without saying.

I'm not out to get people who are doing any of these things that you described: "Maybe I got interested about something I was served. Maybe I want to look up nutritional information. Maybe I'm text-messaging to coordinate for us to meet up with friends later."

I'm just saying that sitting through an entire meal with someone who's hunched over their phone, totally distracted and/or ignoring you, is a pretty unpleasant way to spend an evening.

TQro
TQro

SOMETIMES I just want to enjoy a quiet dinner out in a quiet restaurant with hubby and really would rather not have the person sitting at the next table over yapping loudly on their phone. Sigh. If you're texting, updating your status, etc.. it won't bother me. If the restaurant is already a loud place, then text and yap all you want.

Nancykerschen
Nancykerschen

Thanks for the comments, guys. Really, I'm used to all sorts of behavior from guests, so it's not about me; it's a reminder of showing common courtesy to one's fellow dining companions.

Urumomo
Urumomo

may I still pick my nose ? occasionally ?

Misha
Misha

Have you considered that your customers are banging away on their phones because you're more concerned about regulating their behavior than doing your job? So obnoxious.

Jacob
Jacob

Look at all these angry people! It must be hard to put your life in your pocket of a half-hour.

Urumomo
Urumomo

you realize you WORK there , right.?

bodlbodl
bodlbodl

I hope you are never my waitress.

Jay
Jay

I often eat lunch alone or dinner alone when I travel for business. Do I have your permission to check my email then, or do I have to spend the entire meal gazing lovingly into my server's eyes?

A1302grand
A1302grand

I completely understand not taking an order while somebody is talking on their cellphone...but what does it matter if diners choose to be on their cell phones (doing things other than talking) while at the restaurant. In my case I live with my bf (who I usually dine out with), we have plenty of time to talk at home. Sometimes we just don't want to cook ourselves nor do we have anything new we feel like discussing. Let us play our Words with Friends, hold the judgement.

Kyle
Kyle

I'm not going to try and order while I'm on the phone, but other than that it's between me and my party. Houston's (now Hillstone?) banned cell phones from the dining room so I don't go anymore.

Lisa@ButteryBooks
Lisa@ButteryBooks

I would love it if cell phones were banned from restaurants!

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