Restaurant rudeness???

A group of us went to a restaurant for lunch on Sunday. We were the only occupied table in the restaurant for most of the time we were there, and we were having a very nice time, until a couple with two small children ASKED to be seated quite near us. Almost immediately, the man called (shouted, really) across to us that he didn't want to hear any of our bad language because he had his kids with him. I thought that was quite rude, especially since our language wasn't particularly blue, but my husband apologized very politely, and we were quite careful for the balance of the meal. After a few minutes, however, the children started to whine and shout, and although I didn't say anything, I really wanted to tell the man I didn't appreciate hearing that, any more than he liked our conversation.

First, I think if you ask to be seated near someone, you have to accept that they're going to be talking. Second, if you're surprised by their language, I think you should either ask to be moved, or come over to the table and ask politely if it would be possible either to speak more quietly or to mitigate the language because of the kids. Obviously, foul laguage isn't desirable, but in fact, none of us was using language that you wouldn't hear on any prime-time television program, and these people had ample choice of quieter tables.

I think the man was out of line for demanding that we watch how we spoke, and for stating his case in the way that he did, if he was truly finding our conversation unbearable. Am I wrong?

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Many Angles to See ...
by: Ms P Etiquette

Dear Restaurant Patron

Yes, some folks act like they were raised by wolves, as my grandmother used to say. Let's look at this situation in layers.

First, it is never good manners to shout across a room to someone instead of walking over to talk. This is rude behavior when calling to a server in a restaurant as well.

Second, it is never acceptable to use off color language in public, especially when children may hear, whether or not one hears it on television.

Third, it is never good manners to let your children whine noisily in a restaurant. Shouting children should be removed by their parents.

Fourth, one cannot ever change another's rude behavior.

You ask if you were right about his being "out of line". Of course you were right. However, I do not see how that resolves the situation. His asking to be seated next to you does not give your party permission to ignore the fact that there are young children present. Some situations call for changing tables, but only if it can be done with as little attention drawn to the change as possible. Either group could have changed locations. But, I doubt people with 2 small children find it easy to change tables.

What I am saying is you each must take some responsibility here, however the man with the kids was definitely ill mannered! And bad manners in a public place are disturbing and can ruin an otherwise lovely time. This may not the definitive answer you were seeking, but human behavior seldom fits neatly into the "good" or "bad" columns! I do hope your next outing is more pleasant.

Ms. Practical Etiquette

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