Viewpoint: I prefer overpriced steak with manners from fellow diners

By Amy Heard
Copy Editor

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a 21st birthday family dinner with my best friend Mollimichelle.

I say pleasure because that’s what it was supposed to be. From the beginning, however, the night was doomed.

At lunch, Mollimichelle’s grandmother was telling us about the conversation she had with the manager of the steakhouse who informed her that he wouldn’t be working the night of our dinner, but he would be sure to let the other managers know we were coming.

I’ve never been aware of real-life foreshadowing until that moment.

If the weekend had been a book assigned for one of my literature classes, I would have underlined that conversation with the expectation that it would come back to haunt us.

I was relieved when we walked in the restaurant and saw a table already set up for 12. My relief quickly dissipated, however, when we found out the table was not for us. Apparently, our reservation made it “onto one sheet, but not the other.”

Anyone who has ever gone to dinner with two grandparents, four teenagers and a 2-year-old can guess that things quickly went south. The tension in the group immediately skyrocketed. To the restaurant’s credit, they did make us a new table fairly quickly, but it didn’t completely atone for the fact that they had somehow snubbed the birthday girl.

I firmly believe the night could have still recovered, if it wasn’t for the presence of another birthday party seated less than 3 feet from our table. The celebration was apparently for an elementary-school-aged child and was attended by several guests who felt no qualms about yelling in a restaurant. And by yelling, I mean yelling.

This was not one of those times when you’re already annoyed, someone is being a little obnoxious and so you fixate and blow it out of proportion. This group of people found it appropriate to yell, smash a child’s face into a cheesecake and allow a 12-year-old girl to use a high chair as a scooter/bumper car in the narrow area between our tables.

When it comes to situations like this one, I am a non-confrontational person. I hate that in frustration, anger is usually taken out on waitresses and managers rather than the patrons who are causing the problem. This really was unbearable, however.

What was even more upsetting was that the entire party was done eating when we were seated. They continued to disrupt the entire restaurant (not to mention take up seats) for the entire time we ate and were all still present when we left.

Clearly everyone has a right to enjoy their overpriced steak, but a modicum of decorum would be much appreciated. I’m not suggesting we return to Victorian era manners, but I would like to know that when I go out to eat, especially in what is supposed to be an upscale restaurant, I will be able to enjoy myself.

If that is too much to ask, I would like to be able to at least hear when the person next to me is talking. Self-control is a trait that seems to be slowly going out of style, and I for one would like to bring it back in.

Amy Heard is a senior English major from San Antonio and is a Lariat copy editor.