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et·i·quette
/ˈedəkət,ˈedəˌket/
noun
  1. the customary code of polite behavior in society

"Etiquette" can be an intimidating and taxing concept. Who has the time or need to learn which fork does what? Who cares where I put my napkin, as long as it's not gross or in the way? And honestly, those things almost never matter. But etiquette, in its truest sense, absolutely matters. And I constantly see people in Lubbock ignore or even defy the most basic etiquette they should be practicing inside restaurants. Ironic, considering we have nearly infinite restaurants in which to practice our etiquette.

Main Character Syndrome

A sick symptom of our age- people tend to think and act as if everyone else in the room is just extras in their incredibly important biopic. Being loud, demanding, and rude can ruin someone else's dining experience. And it turns out the waitstaff are actual humans, too. I've seen this manifest in a multitude of ways- from taking up another table for your personal items to snapping for service from the waiter. Yes, everyone is looking at you, but not for the reason you think they are.

It's Not A Daycare

Being a parent means controlling your children's behavior. Allowing your child to wander around is incredibly rude, and also incredibly dangerous. What if they trip waitstaff holding hot, heavy food? Allowing your child to scream, yell or cry in a restaurant is horribly rude. I understand some children have special needs, but it's your responsibility to handle them as their parents. When my child was small, I'd immediately take her out of the restaurant if she began to scream or cry. It minimized the interruption for other people, and it also taught her the consequence of behaving that way.

Back of House Nightmare

If you have an allergy or a real dietary issue, by all means, let your server know. But making a thousand modifications to your food is incredibly rude and it causes chaos in the kitchen. You have multiple meals to choose from, pick one that exists on the menu. If you want to "build your own" there are plenty of places that do that. Don't do it at a full-service restaurant. Also, ordering a well-done steak is rude, and I have all the reasons why explained here.

A Hot Mess

Tearing up a paper napkin, really? Leaving behind a sticky table or fries on the floor? Whether it's kids or adults with the table manners of a kid, if you make a mess of that magnitude, you should clean it up, not your server.

Pay Attention

If the person who ran your food is asking which food belongs to whomever, answer them immediately. Your conversation can be paused for a nanosecond to respond. Those plates are heavy and hot and they have plenty of other things to get done.

You Don't Belong Here

If you "don't believe in tipping," great. Never ever go to a full-service restaurant. Do not order to-go, either, as you should tip a few bucks for the server who had to take time from their tables to pack up your meal. Don't order delivery, those folks depend on tips, too. If you can't or won't tip, there is a McDonald's near you. 20% is not generous, it's standard. Below that, you are being rude. If you had an issue with the service or food, politely let a manager know. Don't stiff your server and expect to get any kind of service the next time you come back. They remember.

In the future, I wish for a world in which anyone who breaks these very basic etiquette rules has to pay by washing a rack of nasty, crusty dishes. Until then, I hope that we all learn to control ourselves and our children in public places.

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