Dear, gentle reader I am sorry, but I’m about to inflict something of a rant on you after a couple of very unpleasant dining experiences over the weekend. I will do my best not to offend, but if you are feeling a little fragile perhaps you’d be best to go and read a book for the next few moments.
We had a couple of meals out this weekend. The first was in celebration of a very dear friends significant birthday. He had been reluctant to celebrate, but I might have
guilted coerced him just a little, with the result that a group of nine of us gathered on Friday at a suburban restaurant to observe the occasion. Although small, the restaurant in question has a well deserved reputation for great food and excellent service, so we were all looking forward to it. Unfortunately, what was to have been a pleasant celebration among old friends turned into an evening of misheard sentences as we, and almost everyone else in the restaurant, struggled to hear dining conversations over the clamorous gabfest and insistent braying of one table of six.
This unfortunate experience was repeated for us on Saturday evening when we took our daughter out for another meal in one of our favourite Adelaide Hills restaurants in Hahndorf. This restaurant is even smaller than the first, divided into two quite small rooms but, once again, with a reputation for serving consistently great food in cosy, intimate surroundings. This time the undoing of our (and the other unfortunate couple in the room) evening was a table of eight whom I later found out had walked up from town during the day, following the Pioneer Womens Walk. This group of selfish, rude, boors completely drowned out any chance we might have had for a chat and we left (early, as did the other couple) with more information about their sex lives than we desired.
In both of these cases other diners were repeatedly – and futilely – turning their heads to stare at these rudely hollering louts, hoping that they might pick up on a few non-verbal messages. In the first instance my friends and I ate as quickly as we could and left without ordering desserts or coffee, not an ideal outcome for a small restaurant. On the following night we did the same, but I felt more sorry for the other young couple trapped in the same room as these oafs, for they appeared to be trying for a romantic dinner for two – they left immediately after their main courses too.
I guess what surprised me most about both these intrusive and self-absorbed groups of people was that they did not fall into the demographic that you might expect. Far from being brash and bold late teenagers or 20-somethings, these two separate groups were both way past using youth as an excuse for poor behaviour, all of them being somewhere around the 60ish age group.
In both cases these people intruded upon the privacy and comfort of others and ultimately caused some degree of loss of income for the restaurant owners. I really don’t want to sound like the fun police and no one begrudges others having a good time. I’m just as guilty as the next person of the odd loud burst of laughter or raucous remark, but to intrude on the pleasure of everyone else in a restaurant for the entire evening is just plain bad manners.
It’s quite difficult to know what to do to resolve a situation like this. We left abruptly, but that just made me feel bad for the proprietors. What would you have done, dear reader?[mc4wp_form id="16750"]