Sad but True, a Ruined Dinner
It was supposed to be a nice, quiet, relaxing dinner. We’d go out and enjoy ourselves, spend a little time talking, then maybe visit friends or go to a movie.
For a change there was no line at the restaurant. People weren’t queuing for a place in line when I stepped up to the reservation booth. No one was there so I looked around. Behold, what I saw spoiled my night out. At the salad bar I love, there was a little girl of about five playing in the food dishes. Revolting! Disgusting! That was the food people including me were about to eat.
I looked around for the hostess or a server. Not an employee was in sight. Luckily the cash register wasn’t either. Not the best way for a proprietor to run a successful business. I called, “Little girl, don’t play with the food.” My voice was not threatening or intimidating. She went on digging in two dishes with her fingers.
Now I had cataract surgery two years ago and my vision is perfect for distance. Twelve feet from me she stood next to her mother, older sister, and father I suppose. I noticed her; they paid no attention whatsoever. I spoke up again much more loudly and affirmatively. I couldn’t believe my ears at the words that came next.
Woman, “She wasn’t doing anything wrong.”
Maybe that clueless woman should have been supervising her child in public. I shudder to think of the care the child gets at home.
Father, “She was using a spoon.”
Good trick except there were none in her hand or in either bowl. I guess the girl will remember her father’s lie and think lying is OK. I then suggested they ask her if she was. She told the truth.
What came out of the man’s mouth next was even more appalling than the child’s–no I am going to correct myself–those people’s manners.
Man, “Stop complaining. Just don’t eat it.”
After that I lost my cool and told him off.
About this time a server asked what was the matter. I pointed my finger to that family still standing defiantly at the salad bar. I then told her what I saw. ?When she indicated she would remove the offended dishes, I walked over to them and indicated which ones.
The manager later visited our table and apologized. She told me not to let it spoil my evening. But it already had. I bet it spoiled a lot of other patrons’ evening too. I doubt if it was very good for business. There are too many other restaurants around for me to rush back there again. I actually liked the place before this evening.
The sad thing about it is the little girl. She has no idea that putting one’s hands into food is inappropriate for anyone except, perhaps, a baby and good parents try to avoid their little ones doing that for long. I wonder if she eats with her hands at home at the family dinner table. Manners and etiquette come from example. As she is exposed to the world and her mommy and daddy’s teachings, she will remember their denial of the truth. She will probably tell it like they do–the easy way out–then say and do anything to avoid a consequence. Right now she is being molded by example.
What should have happened was an apology, a sincere one not lip service, and a one and one talk with the little girl on what is expected when one is in public. She was just a little girl learning exactly what her parents value themselves, obviously no consequences. I don’t believe much in corporal punishment for kids but those parents could use a good horsewhipping.