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Bad Table Manners in a Restaurant

Bad table manners are magnified in a restaurant because paying patrons have rightful expectations of a relatively tranquil meal. Here are some acts to avoid.

Holding court on a cell phone. Even though you'd think that the diner who gabs away on his cell phone would be an extinct species by now, he's still hanging on. As pitiful as he is (trying to transmit the message "I'm on the go, I'm a deal-maker, I'm connected" while appearing just the opposite), he's responsible for a serious disruption. To everyone's misfortune, he's never heard of the rule that says there's a time and a place for everything.

Bribing the maitre d'. People who charge to the front of the line in a busy restaurant and flash a large bill at the maitre d' insult not only the restaurant management but whomever they've just pushed past. A tip for a maitre d' who has given you a good table and attentive service is acceptable (it's usually given on leaving), but trying to buy a good table is inexcusable.

Flaunting your wealth. A noisy table of big-spending revelers flaunting their riches by ordering bottle after bottle of exorbitantly priced wines (not to mention puffing away on cigars) is one of the worst kinds of showing off. There's no excuse for such behavior, no matter how large one's bank account.

Getting soused. The table in the corner that periodically explodes with laughter, whoops, and hollers that almost startle other diners out of their chairs is either listening to the funniest person on earth or drinking too much. In a calm setting, few things irritate restaurant patrons more than the tipsy table that erupts in a rafter-rattling roar.

Taking over. Groups celebrating a special occasion sometimes seem to think they've rented a private room. They tie balloons to chairs, stand on chairs to make speeches, and toast whomever in full cry-to the chagrin of everyone present.

Overdoing displays of affection. A romantic candlelit dinner for two is undoubtedly the time for a bit of cooing and moony gazing, but couples who paw each other or kiss passionately are hard to ignore. The prohibition on this sort of behavior falls under the umbrella of respecting the right of other patrons not to be distracted from their own pleasurable dining experience.

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- , Editor, Etiquette Scholar

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