It was a lovely afternoon and I decided to take a drive in the country and stop in a town that I enjoy visiting every now and then. Coming upon a restaurant I always wanted to try, I decided to relax and dine al fresco in the shaded backyard of the restaurant.
I was reminded of people’s lack of social graces, for shortly after my waitress greeted me and brought me water, a young man left his group, came to my table, proceeded to pull out a chair and sit down to start a conversation. About one year ago a woman did the same thing. Whatever happened to the politeness of greeting someone, introducing yourself and asking if you may join someone at his/her table for a few moments?
I am glad it happened because right then and there I knew I had the subject for this week’s blog. For next, my attention was directed to the young woman, standing with a group. She laughed loudly – very loudly, like a donkey, for all on the patio to hear. Before I knew it, she was at a table of different friends at the other end of the patio where she would occasionally rise, walk a few steps, light a cigarette and “hold court” from her standing position.
It was quite amusing to watch a foursome of newly seated, middle-aged people all turn at once to look at her at the table when she belted out a series of laughs. Yep! Sounds like a donkey, I thought.
Last week it was the young waitress in a restaurant who called me, a person about three times her senior, “sweetie” every time she asked me something, brought me something, or took away something. Don’t restaurateurs monitor their staff and give them pointers? I wondered this as I reached the last “sweetie” I was going to take.
Then, of course, is my pet peeve which my friends know just sets me off: watching people, especially women, drinking beer out of bottles. This is the new chic: NYC restaurants, wedding receptions, dinners, and hosted gatherings. I told my friends that in June I watched a bride holding a beer bottle exit the front entrance of a ritzy hotel in a town next to mine, with her bridal party and photographer. As he was getting them arranged, she was taking swigs from the bottle and passing it around on the front steps. About one hour earlier, she arrived to those same front steps in a horse drawn carriage – with all the trappings of elegance. After watching her, I shook my head, and talked to myself all the way to my car, wondering, “Where is her mother?”
Let me not forget those college tours I went on with my son, in which tour guides and Admission staff frequently referred to the group as “you guys”. I am not a guy! I am a woman. Further, I am a parent. You are asking me to finance an education in excess of $50K a year. It is inappropriate to call me a guy! Even if you are trying to relate to the applicant, why is it appropriate to refer to your female students and applicants as “guys”?
It amazes me, also, the number of “educated” young people who eat as if they are still holding their baby spoons – the ones with the loop. Who tells people about protocol anymore? When I grew up, class transcended socio-economic level. It was expected of everyone.
In case you are thinking that it does not matter, I am also reminded of my client some years back. I always thought of that company as the “gentleman’s gentlemen”. They pursued everything with the rigor of excellence. I sat in the senior partner’s dining room next to the senior vice-president on one side and a young man whom I surmised, was their “best” and “brightest”, on the other side. We sat amid original paintings of the masters, and a tuxedo clad waiter replete with a humidor, after dinner, when the senior VP leaned over and whispered in my ear. He said, “That young man was supposed to leave in two days to open and head up the new Paris office. It was called off after the President of the company took him to a “farewell” dinner earlier that week and observed his manners.” The VP said, “He is our best, and he would have had a great career there, but the company cannot afford to have him alienate and offend potential French clients. You see, so much of the business is done over meals.”
© Dr. Drayton-Craig, 2010