Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Strong Gentleness II

Rudeness in Fellow Diners in Restaurants: This is the second of a series of essays exploring the need of etiquette that lines up with being a loyal follower of Jesus Christ: Strong Gentleness. As I shared in the last post my partner and I are preparing a workshop for some young women on dining etiquette.

For the last few years I've been researching and studying the correlation between courtesy and Christianity. One of favorite quotes is:

"Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength." St. Frances de Sales

Our culture seems to be In Your Face Bravado! As Christians, we know we probably will be moving in a different direction than the majority of people who do not live by our standards. Common courtesy seems to be one great way to witness the goodness of God.

When I look to Scripture for wisdom I’m impacted by Apostle Paul as he writes to the Ephesians: "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love."

When I'm studying the Bible I love chasing down the original language it was written in to draw all the truth possible. In this verse the word bearing is translated from the Greek word anechomai. The Strong's Concordance description of this word is: to put up with, to bear with, to endure, to forbear suffer.

Kay's understanding: When you have ticked me off by breaking some of my personal conduct rules, I won't point my index finger at you and set you straight. I won't give you one of my looks that makes you feel lower than a caterpillar. I won't put my hands on my hips and sigh with disapproval.

No, I'll take a moment and lift up a prayer to Father God. I will pause to see this situation beyond my own needs, rights and opinion. In fact, even if I know I'm right and you're wrong, I won't lose my cool and explode. Even if I must say something to point out what is wrong, I will do it in a manner that will not be destructive. I will bear with my own words (I'll restrain from giving you a piece of my mind). I will be willing to forbear suffer...I will even go through some pain if necessary.

That attitude sure runs counter to the norm, eh? This verse is all about self control. Impulsive self centeredness will not suffer anything out of consideration for the feelings of others. As we are all so accustomed to saying “What about Me?"

Let's bring this verse into the restaurant of your choice. Tell me what ticks you off with other diners. What have they done that interrupted your enjoyment of your meal and fellowship? For our upcoming Protocol With Ease assignment (covered in the previous blog post) we will be addressing protocol issues for young people and one group of young mothers.

Restaurant etiquette for children: On Miwise, who worked in restaurants, wrote this in her blog today:

  • Politeness works every time. "Server" does not mean "servant" and yours should be talked to politely.

  • Try to keep most of the food on the plate or in your mouth, not on the table and floor. Don't play with the condiments... salt, sugar, jelly packets, etc. Other people will be using them.

  • Chew with your mouth closed. Not one wants to play "see food", even at Red Lobster.

  • Don't run around the restaurant. It's rude and dangerous... you will be in the way and at risk of wearing the very hot food the servers are carrying.

  • Shouting, screaming, or crying is frowned on by the people around you. Parents, if your child is at the forever-crying-stage, consider other patrons before taking him/her to a restaurant.

    Well said Miwise, but adults can be disruptive. Here's my short list of ways my dining pleasure has been hindered by others' actions.

1. Miss or Mr. Overtly Picky: "I want a red napkin, sliced cheddar cheese on a plate with strawberries, a small dinner salad with the tomatoes, and lettuce on the side, dressing in small container on the side, chopped crab meat on my steak, an iced tea with the ice on the side and one lemon and one lime." Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease. Never, I mean never, finding a menu item that they can order without major changes. I understand medical needs, but I have a few folks I dine with in business that I finally realized they enjoy seeing what they can get a restaurant to do to customize their individual meal.
Wisdom tip: A restaurant owner gave me this tidbit: A good rule of thumb is no more than two modifications per menu item. It is the menu for a reason.

2. Discounting wait staff by not listening closely to them, looking them in the eye and acknowledging them with grace and respect.

3. Finding endless reasons to call wait staff to run back and forth from their table to the kitchen over and over. In fact, this one costs me money. I end up empathizing with the one waiting on us that I over tip as an apology.

4. Talking too loudly so as to interrupt other diners. .

5. Loud cell phone rings. Talking loudly on cell phone.

6. Too much ado about who pays what part of the bill. Trying to pull in the waiter to referee who will pay the bill. If you truly want to pay for all of it; get the waiter to the side and handle it discreetly early, not later with bravado.

7. Romantic physical loving actions .... not in public, please. Even on Valentine's Day.

8. Not honoring reservation time by being extremely late and expecting to be served without regard to your tardiness.

9. Children running in the restaurant and making loud noises

10. The Fault Finders: Some people I dine with embarrass me. Every time we come together they find minute things "wrong" with their meal. I know within minutes of their plate being put before them I will see the waiter called and I'll see their plate going back to the kitchen. I have noticed this more with people who have overcome a poverty lifestyle of their youth. I don't have the insight, but I know there is some deep rooted truth to explain why otherwise kind people would become so demanding. One expert said that the service industry is the only place left where ordinary people get to be served by others. It can bring out the ugly side in some people. If everything goes wrong in every restaurant you patronize, maybe you are the problem.

When thinking of my top ten rude scenarios I have witnessed in restaurants, the diners seemed to have no concern for anyone but themselves.

O.K. it's your turn. I need your input.
Assignment from Protocol With Ease: What have fellow diners done that interfered with your enjoyable dining experience?

What have you witnessed that you found ill mannered in diners in restaurants?

Got a top ten list?


Dorothy Champagne said...

Coming in as a 'party', ordering alcoholic beverages and being loud and boisterous. Using profane language - especially when you've got your children sitting next to you.

At a buffet - not taking the time to go with your children and helping them get their food.

Kay, you've taken on quite the endeavor here - I'll be praying for you.

Angela @ Refresh My Soul Blog said...

I really do not like when parents let their kids out of their seat to run around. I dine with a few friends who do this and my kids want to get up too and I say no. I feel bad and the others are out there running around the table it takes just a minute for some type of break down.

I do not like to dine with people who have snobby attitudes like the world revolves around them. Especially the picky type.

I don't like it when people leave bad tips. It is such a bad witness. One waiter friend of mine said they hated the Sunday lunch crowd because these were the worse tippers. Once she someone just left her a 100 dollar bill tract! How sad is that?

This is good stuff.
Much love,

Kay Martin said...

Dorothy and Angela,
I realize you are mothers of young children. Times were a bit calmer when mine were young. I can see that all of us adults need to be conscious of ways we can be good role model for children dining near us. Good posts ladies.

© 2008 Kay Martin

Thrive In Christ

Who I Am In Christ by Neil Anderson

For several months we will center on this book to pursue Thriving in our Christian journey.

Neil challenges us with: "Do you know who you are in God's eyes? We are no longer products of our past. We are primarily products of Christ's work on the cross. Who we are determines what we do.

You are not who you are in Christ because of the things you have done, you are in Christ because of what He has done. He died and rose again so that you and I could live in the FREEDOM of His love."

That's just the introduction. More to follow.