Lunchtime poll – foul fellow restaurant patrons
October 7th, 2010
12:45 PM ET
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We're in a bit of a mood this week. Monday, we polled our reading public on restaurant flaws they just can't stomach. Tuesday, it was irksome grocery store shoppers. Wednesday, we kvetched about party poopers.

Today, to paraphrase Jean-Paul Sartre: hell is other people - especially if they're seated at the banquette next to yours. Company can make a meal memorable, but not always for the right reasons. We've all been privy to couples' squabbles, the over-served, the insufficiently parented, the overly affectionate - the list goes on.

Whose behavior puts you off your pommes frites?

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Filed under: Buzz • Lunchtime Poll

soundoff (216 Responses)
  1. Liisa

    I am not sure the place you are getting your information, but great topic. I must spend some time learning more or figuring out more. Thanks for magnificent information I used to be searching for this information for my mission.

    August 10, 2011 at 5:06 pm |

    my voice lessons were given to me by my aunt who also teaches some amateur pop singers to improve their voices -*~

    December 3, 2010 at 11:09 am |
  3. Blut

    The worst is "grooming" in a restaurant! People run their fingers through their hair and you have their dandruff flying like you're in a snow globe. They pick their teeth, and generally act like they're home alone. The WORST was when I saw a man take off his "mandal"(man-sandal) and actually start picking his feet! I was appalled and nearly regurgitated my appetizer.
    Children at any age can go out to a nice restaurant and eat. Our family would go to nice restaurants often. If you teach your children proper manners they will not disturb other guests. Occasionally they get antsy, but a quiet toy or game calms them down quickly. Even in a large group we have NEVER had a problem with any of the children in our immediate nor extended family. It is absolutely a parent's fault if their child disturbs other guests. Not teaching your child how to behave is apalling in ANY venue. Just yesterday a 4 year old in the over-crowded post office REFUSED to leave and threw the world's largest temper-tantrum for not getting her way. The mother and grandmother simply giggled while she threw fists and screamed her bloody head off. Children learn quickly that every action has a consequence... they are rewarded with good behavior and scolded for poor behavior. As long as you are consistent and fair, you will rarely have an issue.

    October 30, 2010 at 11:43 am |
  4. Connie

    It's NOT out of control children, but rather selfish parents who care more about their eating, than training their children to act civil in public. I hate when kids are blamed. They are doing what comes natural, and it's the parents who are being rude!

    Children ARE capable of sitting still and behaving in restaurants... young doesn't mean stupid. Sometimes though, the very young cannot be expected to tolerate the enforced stillness and quiet and will get upset. Guess what... that's the price of being a good parent. If your infant or toddler is past the point of tolerance and patience, then you summon the waiter and ask to have your meal wrapped for take-away. I had to do that a number of times when my kids were under 2yos... really.... 95% of the time they'd be fine in a restaurant.. it is exciting and stimulating for them... but babies are babies and their needs come before a parent's 'want' to eat out. The few times I was in this 'infant meltdown' situation, we left, and the staff were incredibly gracious and helpful. Asking us to come back, packing extra food into our takeaway meal, giving us meal certificates, and once even giving us our meals for free! We always found the staff to be sincerely grateful towards us ... simply because we chose to be courteous and LEAVE.

    My kids, under 9yo, know that going out is a treat (whether it's a McDs, or a high class formal place) and if they don't want to stay with a sitter, they will act appropriately. Not hard at all... no threats or punishment needed!!... they know the rules, and know that if they want to be enjoy going out as a family, they follow our rules. Over the years, we have taken them to some very nice restaurants – and received many compliments for their behavior!

    October 14, 2010 at 4:02 am |
  5. Peter

    Not having read all the comments, it's possible someone already mentioned this, but what really irritates me at a restaurant is not unruly children but unruly parents. I was recently out to eat by myself and there was a woman, her daughter, and her daughter's children, both of whom were quite young. Although the children were somewhat obnoxious, I dismissed it as simply children acting their ages. The grandmother was the main source of my irritation. She was constantly yelling at the kids when they were around because of their misbehavior, and when they weren't around she was talking about how she was going to beat them if they didn't quit soon. It is my opinion that this kind of behavior should not take place in public at all, whether it is at a restaurant or somewhere else.

    October 11, 2010 at 11:56 pm |
  6. PeeWeeHerman

    Gross me out Ethel. Rick Sanchez walked into my favorite Jewish Deli and ordered a Tube Steak smothered in underwear with cream gravy and EXTRA mustard. I hope it was circumcised as they had no Large Bagels!

    October 7, 2010 at 9:01 pm |
  7. Mothersson

    Children being mistreated is a crime.

    October 7, 2010 at 8:57 pm |
  8. Kara

    If you don't have enough money to pay a sitter for your kids then you don't have enough money to go out to a nice restaurant. If your kids can not sit through a meal without being disruptive –they are not old enough to eat out.

    October 7, 2010 at 7:47 pm |
  9. Charlotte

    Wow. The unruly children is in a tie with the loud cell phone conversation and the couple making out. In all three cases, they really ought to take it someplace where it isn't being imposed on everyone else to gross them out and ruin their meal. Get a leash and a muzzle, go find a phone booth, and get a room. In no particular order. The quiet, awkward first date is hardly something that would spoil anyone's meal except the poor couple who are sharing it!

    October 7, 2010 at 6:56 pm |
  10. Human

    All these situations, just smile and things will fall in the way you want, try it next time. Smile and keep smiling and see the difference....

    October 7, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
    • Truth

      Isn't it a little early to be drinking?

      October 7, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
  11. PCWizard

    I can't stand it when the server gives me an order of wheat toast and puts the chicken salad between her legs!!

    October 7, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
    • Aliens are among us

      Depending on the waitress...why not?!? I only see that adding that certain something, something that cannot be found on the spice rack.

      October 7, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
    • Truth

      What is wrong with that?
      I love a buffet!

      October 7, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  12. Aliens are among us

    Taking "it" out. Even underneath the table is unacceptable.

    October 7, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
    • BallerGrrl

      LOL! I'll have to tell my boyfriend to stop doing that.

      October 7, 2010 at 6:44 pm |
  13. Raj

    I read comments on kids not behaving at restaurants. All I can say is, you probably don't love your children enough to think they are a pest. Kids will be kids. I have observed that Americans in general are very selfish and self centered in the name of individual rights. The same kids when they grow up and have kids will treat thier kids the same way.

    October 7, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
    • Kids are too soft these days

      "kids will be kids" is the biggest cop-out for not disciplining your kids ever. I suppose we should just say "murderers will be murderers" and excuse their behaviors too?

      October 7, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
    • Greg K

      "Kids will be kids" is a rationalization that bad parents use to justify their own failures and their brats' poor behavior.

      October 8, 2010 at 11:10 am |
  14. Mama Smith

    I honestly want to say most of the above irritates me when I am out at a restaurant paying for a nice meal. I don't have high expectations of other diners when I am at a fast food joint, but anywhere nicer than say Burger King or Chick-Fil-A, I expect the fellow patrons to have some respect for the other people there. Why is it that we have given up on polite behavior as a society?!?! I don't mind strangers speaking to me, as long as they are polite, and it unacceptable to be rude to your server. If your service is not acceptable, ask to speak to the manager, and do so in a polite and quiet manner. Everyone within hearing does not need to know what you are saying.

    October 7, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
  15. TR

    I was having dinner one night and a couple of children were chasing each other around the tables in the restaurant despite people sitting and trying to eat at that table. I called the manager over and asked her if she would intervene. She said that she would prefer not to. So, I asked if she was willing to lose a customer who wasn't afraid to spread the word that this kind of behavior was tolerated–me. About that time, all of the diners around me started raising their hands and saying, "and me." The manager went to the parents and asked that they curtail the behavior of their children. There response was that they weren't aware that this was annoying anyone. I didn't have to say anything as the entire section we were in chimed in with, "well, it is!"

    October 7, 2010 at 5:07 pm |
    • Valerie

      I am guessing you were at a "family friendly" place because I can guarantee when you dine at a 4 or 5 star place, the kids are NOT running around.

      Most of you "adults" sound like fools. If you were eating at a "nice" place, kids wouldn't be running need to get out more geez.......

      October 7, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
      • hollypnyc

        Honestly, Valerie, even if they weren't at a "nice" restaurant the children shouldn't have been running around. No parent should ever let their kid run around in a restaurant for a number of reasons. It's not safe for the child–they could easly run into a waiter and cause them to spill food and plates that could hit the child, the child could run into the back of a chair as someone is getting up from the table (I personally saw this one happen. The kid looked to be about five and he was just weaving all over the place and hiding behind different people's chairs and he happend to stand behind one man right as the guy pulled his chair out, got knocked it the head and started to bawl), etc. Also, it's just rude. Yes, you and your family have the right to eat out and have fun, but your right to enjoy yourselves doesn't supersede the right of the other patrons. If you look around and notice that everyone is annoyed with your running, screaming children then it should be your clue that you are the one in the wrong and they don't need to "just loosen up." Any anyway, if the kids are running around and playing rather than sitting at the table, it means sitting at the table isn't fun for them, so why take them to a place you know that the only way they can enjoy themselves is at the cost of others? Take them to a park and leave them with a sitter if they want to play. If your kids can behave and sit still at a table and not make the dining room into their personal playroom, then by all means, treat them to a dinner out. Like someone else said upthread, I love looking around and seeing families with civilized kids having fun together, as so many families don't do anything as a unit. However, if you plan to take your kids out and let them do whatever the h*ll they want and then tell others to loosen up and assume they are uptight jerks instead of acknolweding an overly permissive parent, then don't be surprised by the hostility, you basically asked for it. And I noticed in several of your posts you referred to people who spoke with far more intelligence than yourself but made points you don't like as "idiots"...really? I guess I shouldn't be surprised if you're defending obnixious children when you basically are one.

        October 8, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  16. Captain Slapaho

    How to say this in a family site...
    I once had a gf do a job involving her hand while sitting next to me at Del Frisco's steak house.
    Thankfully the tablecloth was VERY long.

    October 7, 2010 at 5:07 pm |
    • unknown

      on the one hand, (pun) that is really disgusting. On the other hand (pun again) you may be my new hero.

      October 7, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
      • Captain Slapaho

        If you don't blow it, you can always find a happy ending...
        And for the record, it was her idea...that bottle of wine was worth every penny...

        October 7, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  17. KF

    I can be understanding for most scenarios, but the thing that irritates me the most when you are out to dinner with someone is when they can't have a conversation with you or anyone else for that matter because they are so occupied with texting under the table. IT DRIVES ME NUTS!!!! It's like if you want to carry on a conversation with that person more so than me, go to dinner/lunch with them instead.

    October 7, 2010 at 4:50 pm |
  18. unknown

    Are people just making crap up? I have been at my share of resturants off all kinds. Cheap, expensive, dives, nice... I honestly cannot remember the last time a kid ruined my meal. Perhaps you were all coddled as children and developed thin skin. I am sure that these things do happen, but I really cannot recall when.

    Last night we had a smoker next to us, which is illegal of course. When the waitress told him nicely to put it out, he came back with 'I was done anyway.' Very impressive.

    I have been quite amused by first dates at close tables. They can be really funny as people are on their best behavior and trying to impress each other.

    Actually the worst one was an adult that hovered 2 feet from our table because he saw we were about done. We had taken a table in the bar rather than wait. The guy was a complete a$$. Unfortunately, it turned me off of the resturant and we have not been back for about 15 years. Not necessarily sane since it was not really their fault, but my experience was not pleasant.

    So, I would have to say that all versions of self important obnoxious adults outweigh any child related experiences I have had.

    Been fun.

    October 7, 2010 at 4:50 pm |
    • Valerie

      Agreed. Overall the world sucks BECAUSE of adults........that is a FACT.

      October 7, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
    • unknown

      note that I was not saying that the first dates annoy me. I find them amusing.

      October 7, 2010 at 5:04 pm |
  19. Human

    None of the above! Life is not for whining, it's to be happy!! Don't get bothered, enjoy everything!!!

    October 7, 2010 at 4:37 pm |
    • Pragmatist

      Please kill yourself.

      October 7, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
      • Human

        Smile your way :)

        October 7, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
  20. kids are evil

    If I was a waiter and someone was letting their snot nosed brat be loud and unruly I would give them the most sugary desert on the menu and have the cook lace it with 5hour Energy drink for free and without asking so they dont have a chance to say no. The energy should start hitting the kid on the car ride home and hopefully make the rest of the night hell for the stupid parents.

    October 7, 2010 at 4:27 pm |
    • unknown

      sounds like a felony.

      October 7, 2010 at 4:51 pm |
  21. diane

    someone blows there nose continuous at the table

    October 7, 2010 at 4:16 pm |
  22. D

    There really needs to be multiple selections, between out of control kids and cell phone usage, I was ready to select those, then I re-read 'Rudeness TO the server' and wanted to select that.
    I suggest ability to vote on multiple!

    October 7, 2010 at 4:15 pm |
  23. NtotheOtotheE

    WELL said GREG! a little harsh I must admit. BUt It was Quite Hilarious. I don't like Kids at restaurant. I like kids for the most part. I think Kids will be kids, therefore I don't think it is fair to put them in a situation (a nice restaurant) and force them to behave a certain way, especially if they are not ready or lack the maturity to behave appropriately. Chuck -e cheese's is great for this the a kid can be a kid. For the parents out there: there is a reason adults without kids don't go to chuck-e-cheeses for pizza. Think about it. If adults don't choose to go to CEC, then why intentionally subject them to YOUR unruly child when they are making an effort to avoid children by going to a nice restaurant in the first place. A little consideration goes a long way. But greg you are a funny MFer! STill LMAO!

    October 7, 2010 at 4:10 pm |
    • Valerie

      Child Protective Services should be called on ANY parent that feeds their kids food from Chuck E Cheese. What the hell is the matter with you???! And why on Earth do you people continually bring up "take your kids to Chuck E Cheese"? That germ ridden place with God awful "food"? Good Lord, what IDIOTS!

      October 7, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
  24. Katy J

    I would once have voted for out-of-control children and their lazy, thoughtless parents who should stick to the drive-through. HOWEVER, cell phone conversations have actually overtaken the number one spot on the pet-peeve list for me. The worst by far involved a mindlessly crass hypochondriac who was describing (presumably to his doctor) the minute details of the various discharges stemming from his headcold, which chomping on his burger with his mouth open.

    October 7, 2010 at 3:59 pm |
    • Valerie

      Which goes to prove adults suck, because they should know better. Cannot believe all the kid haters on this selfish, stupid board...geez....and by the way, kids have always been kids, and those that were brats grew up to be the selfish, stupid adults of today. Just saying.

      Makes me wish my teenage sons were small again, so we could go to a restaurant and annoy some azzhole adults! LOL!

      October 7, 2010 at 4:39 pm |
      • Matt

        Your comment goes to show that it is indeed the adults that are the problem, not the children.
        While the children are the ones causing the problem, the root of the problem is the "selfish, stupid adults" such as yourself that raised them.

        October 7, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  25. DDstracted

    Right!.... Now what were we talking about? I was distracted by the lady in the photo.

    October 7, 2010 at 3:46 pm |
  26. Farhibide

    A few weeks ago, my husband and I had just been seated in a restaurant when we heard a loud retching sound in the corner of the dining room. Apparently, a grown woman decided to have a little fun and pretend to vomit on the table before rushing out of the restaurant. We, of course, didn't know this for a full twenty minutes when our server returned with our food and we asked if someone had thrown up. Meanwhile, we both felt ill and seriously considered leaving but didn't want to run out on our bill. Even though it turnd out to be a prank, we both lost our appetites.

    October 7, 2010 at 3:40 pm |
  27. Les

    kids >>>> chuckie cheese

    October 7, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
  28. zagool6

    A full blown kissing session in public, I definitely consider inappropriate. However I have no problem being affectionate in public. Having lived in Europe, Americans are up tight about a smooch here and there. Please loosen up.

    October 7, 2010 at 3:09 pm |
  29. Sndp

    Btw, my above comment relating to the number of times one eats outside is the national average. Please don't start piling insults on me stating that you personally don't eat out more than once a week.

    October 7, 2010 at 2:58 pm |
  30. Sndp

    Wow – some people are indeed touchy about being 'disturbed' when eating out. Considering that an average American 4-5 times a week.So, out of 200-250 times a year, if you get 'disturbed' even 25 times, I think you have a very good ratio there. Come on folks, do you really have so very few problems in life that 'disturbance' while eating out troubles you? If so, you are one lucky son-of-a-gun and got to be really happy.

    October 7, 2010 at 2:56 pm |
  31. andy

    Other patrons who like to become best friends with the waitstaff bug the crap out of me. I don't appreciate some overly friendly person having a 10 min conversation with the waiter when I haven't even had my drink order placed. I don't give a crap that y'all went to the same school, knows the friend of a cousin, etc. Chitchat on your own time. There are hungry people. Sometimes I understand it's the server too, but you can usually tell when the server just wants to get away but is too polite to break off the small talk.

    October 7, 2010 at 2:55 pm |
  32. Kids are too soft these days

    When I was a kid, if I misbehaved anywhere, restaurants included, we immediately went home and my dad would hit me with his belt. You better believe me and my brothers hardly ever acted up, and this is the reason the rise of unruly children is happening, there are NO CONSEQUENCES. Parents let their kids get away with anything and everything, and this needs to come to an end.

    October 7, 2010 at 2:50 pm |
    • andy

      I agree. A good spanking or two never hurt anyone. Bratty children need stronger discipline than just a "time out".

      October 7, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
  33. Liz

    Disgusting conversation by others that are talking loudly. Like about the details of their stomach flu, or hunters talking about carving up a deer, or health care employees talking about some disgusting disease and describing it. I actually got up and told 3 grown men that they were in a dining room and their conversation was making me sick. Of course we could hear them snicker but they shut up and soon left. People ! Remember where you are. Act, speak and eat appropriately. If you have a gory story to tell your friends, invite them to your house.

    October 7, 2010 at 2:37 pm |
  34. kricket

    We have 2 kids that we love to take out to restaurants as long as the restaurants aren't too formal or fancy. I expect them to sit on their bottoms at the table, use an inside voice, eat a reasonable amount of their meal, no tantrums, no running around. Sometimes when you have to correct them, like "no going under the table" "no standing and staring at other people" or "no you aren't going to just eat ice cream" you can see them gearing up for a crying jag. Before the jag ever happens I let them know they are about to go outside for a time out, and if I need to I take them outside (then come back in after). We have never had a full blown tantrum in a restaurant. My kids still act like kids, they are not perfect and they get bored and we entertain them – but they are learning that restaurants are not a playground. That said, kids whose behavior is way over the top bothers me, people who are unnecessarily rude to staff bother me, people who are extremely loud would bother me. Fortunately I seldom see really extreme behavior.

    October 7, 2010 at 2:33 pm |
    • Kathleen

      We need more parents like you.

      October 7, 2010 at 3:06 pm |
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