There is a small family pizza place in the city I live. I have been casual friends of the owners for many years. They do a nice business but with all the chains in town, I know it can be difficult for made from scratch pizza places. They’ve worked hard to build a loyal clientele and have a good reputation. Part of this is providing very good customer service. Unfortunately, I’ve seen first hand what they have had to put up with from one family. I happened in one day accompanied by my two kids (about 7 and 9 at the time) and my friend “Dawn” and her son. When you walk into the restaurant there is a hostess podium about 8 steps in. Along one side there is a divider with a small section of tables and a long booth. You can’t really see the booth area until you are at the podium. We gave our name and waited for a table to open up.
That’s when we noticed The Family at the booth. The Family was made up of a 30 something couple and twin boys probably around 3 or 4. They were attractive and middle class in appearance and, as I would come to find out, the husband was a local attorney. My friend Dawn had actually grown up in the same small town as the husband so she knew him slightly. I point this out only to make it clear that we knew that at least the husband wasn’t raised by wolves. You would have guessed differently if you had seen the wrack and ruin they had left in their wake. The floor under their table was covered with food, much of which was squished into the carpet. Ketchup and sauce smeared everywhere. Plastic kids drinking cups were on the ground, lids half on. Napkins, straws, and more food littered the table. The worst crazy fast food kids birthday party I have ever attended couldn’t hold a candle to the mess made by these two terrors and their clueless “parents.” I have never seen anything like it. While The Family was packing up to leave and I was picking up my jaw from the floor the staff stepped in. It took 8-10 minutes for 3-4 staff people to clean up this small booth area. They went over the carpet with a carpet sweeper at least 3 times. Two servers cleared the table and repeatedly wiped everything down; numerous trips to the trash. Meanwhile, other patrons waited to be seated. Diners at nearby tables also had the good fortune to witness the extensive clean-up effort after getting to see the show! And it had to be a good one considering the gross amount of half eaten food strewn everywhere. The twins must have been absolutely wild considering how many shoe printed french fries adorned the carpet.
So here’s the part where you will be disappointed in me. I didn’t do anything. And I should have, but to this day I don’t think I could have. I had to satisfy myself with giving them absolutely scathing looks and I did manage to make a few not quite under my breath comments which I know they heard and completely disregarded as they sailed out without a look back. The reason I said nothing is that Dawn is an extremely non-confrontational person and since she knew the husband she was absolutely writhing with fear that I would say something. When I made a little too loud comment, I could tell she was embarrassed. With respect to her feelings, I kept my mouth (sort of) shut but I was furious. I couldn’t believe that these people had been so disrespectful to so many people and had gotten away with it. Not only did they make new diners wait an unnecessary amount of time for a table, they disrupted (and disgusted) the diners around them. But most importantly they created a RIDICULOUS amount of extra work for the restaurant staff. These people just didn’t care how their behavior affected other people–in particular those that had to serve them.
After being seated, I laughingly asked my server if they at least tipped well. She was very diplomatic in her answer but she looked pained. The worst part–they came in and did this regularly. In speaking with my friend, the owner (who was also diplomatic,) I found out that they were regulars. The staff actually tried to place them where they would cause the least disruption but what could they do? Refusing them service could have adversely affected their business as the couple had a presence in town and definitely a sense of entitlement. I think if it had gotten to the point where they were really disrupting other customers they would be asked to leave but it was borderline. It was the staff who took the brunt of it and, as this was unusual for their clientele, they were mopping up and moving on. Years later the owner told me that she was talking to another friend in a general way about this family and mentioned the twins. The friend asked if it was “so and so” family. It was. The friend knew exactly who they were. Turns out the boys are still wreaking havoc throughout town but now at an age where they should know better. Go figure. At least their father’s a lawyer. They’ll probably need one. 1231-13
This is a classic example of the phrase, “The world is their ashtray.” I do disagree that the business owner had no recourse to stifle this behavior or call out the parents for not controlling their darlings. Maybe it’s just me but I’d rather have one angry set of banned parents than lose clients disgusted with the out of control behavior of this family.