Friday, May 13, 2016

Etiquette is contagious ...

This is pretty complex but its worth studying.
The little "b" is for bread = your bread plate in on the left. The little "d" is for drinks = your drinks are on the right.

I recently went out to dinner with some girlfriends to a relatively nice restaurant (cloth napkins, three courses, charger plates, etc.). I used to think that I was at a stage in my life where nothing shocked me but apparently I have a long way to go. I guess I just don't understand how people who can afford to buy $1,000 purses can't afford to have some basic table manners. My friends did some of the most uncool dining things ever: drank out of another person's water glass, used the wrong silverware, snapped at the waiter and left their cell phone on the table. I took the opportunity to help them with their dining skills :-)
  • Drinking out of another diner's glass: Look at the photo above of the two "ok" symbols using your hands. If you notice when you make the "OK" symbol with your hands, the left hand makes a little "b" and the right makes a little "d". Use this trick to remember that your bread plate is on your left and your drinks are on your right. 
  • Using the right fork (or spoon, or knife): I can't help you with this one except to say study the graphic above to emblazon it in your head which utensil to use. You should use the outside utensils first working your way in, usually. Sometimes the restaurant will throw you a curve ball and serve salad at the end of the meal. But trust me, if you are in a high quality restaurant with trained staff, they will always take away utensils you don't need or supply you with ones you do (e.g. lobster hammer or escargot tongs) when you need them.
  • Calling for the server: Never snap, yell or wave at a server! I don't care if you're in Applebees or the Ritz. If you are in a place like Outback Steakhouse, simply raise your hand (not like you are in kindergarten and have to go to the bathroom). If you are in an upscale establishment, trust me, you need only look in your server's direction and they will come to you. Servers in high-end restaurants are trained to pay attention to their table and read your cues (cues like the fork and knife together to the top right of the plate, they know you are finished).
  • Where to put your cell phone: You are out with friends because you want to spend time with them. So spend time with them, not your phone. Put your phone in your purse or pocket and perhaps check it the next time you go to the restroom. If you are at a work dinner and maybe you have a sick child at home you can keep your phone on vibrate in your lap or pocket then excuse yourself from the table to take the call in a quiet place (where you won't disturb other diners with your conversation -- most likely outside) if you feel it vibrating.
I'm not trying to be difficult but having proper table manners is not about you, its about showing respect to your fellow diners. If you don't care about your fellow diners then go ahead and display those horrible manners. But if you do care how people watch you eat, brush up on basic etiquette (I suggest

After that experience, I'm seriously considering whether or not to dine out with these friends ever again or meet up for drinks only in the future.

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