Your Cell Phone Is the Culprit, Not Your Waiter

by admin on July 17, 2014

A busy NYC restaurant kept getting bad reviews for slow service, so they hired a firm to investigate. When they compared footage from 2004 to footage from 2014, they made some pretty startling discoveries. I cannot copy the entire transcript here but the summary is that customers in 2014 are using cell phones in ways that completely interferes with the serving staff to do their jobs efficiently and in a timely manner and jeopardizes the quality of the food.

It would appear that restaurant customers may need to be more cognizant of how their own actions are contributing to the slow service and unacceptably cool food and to be more considerate.

Read more HERE.

{ 143 comments… read them below or add one }

Marozia July 17, 2014 at 4:34 am

The only time I’d take photos of my food is when it is still moving about!
I’d rather go to a restaurant to eat with my family and friends, not to worry about the WiFi set up.

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JO July 17, 2014 at 5:27 am

I had seen this before, and sadly, wasn’t all that surprising. Personally, I hate going to a restaurant (or theater, outdoor concert, playground, grocery store – you name it) and seeing everybody buried in their phones. Why bother even going into public, if you aren’t going to interact with real people?

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The Elf July 17, 2014 at 10:17 am

This, exactly. My cell phone is a handy device, but if I’m with someone, I’m *with* that person. If I have to make or take a call, I apologize first and make it quick. But I’ve eaten with plenty of people who take loads of time to do something or another with their phones before ordering, after ordering, when food arrives, etc…. Drives me crazy! No wonder it takes a lot longer to get in/out of a restaurant! It also doesn’t surprise me that this is in NYC. I don’t have much experience in NYC, but I have noticed this welded to the phone tendency more in cities and close suburbs than in far suburbs and rural areas.

When I dine alone, I will read from my ereader or use my phone. But I give attention to the task at hand (ordering, etc) first.

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Kate July 17, 2014 at 5:57 am

Agree, agree, agree. Myself and most of my server coworkers won’t even stay at a table if someone is on their phone. They’ll give us the ‘one minute’ finger, but we’re not waiting around! I may be serving you, but I’m not your servant.

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Dyan July 17, 2014 at 1:53 pm

Kate….exactly …I feel the same way…I was not put on this earth to cater to you

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Lo July 17, 2014 at 5:59 am

I really liked the time breakdown in the article. Can’t imagine how frustrating this would be for a server.

One of the reasons I don’t own a smart phone is because I know I would be using it to the point of distraction. The temptation is too much for some people. I also know what it’s like to want to be connected 24-7. I cannot leave my house without my cellphone on the chance something happens. And though I can mute it and put it away I am not comfortable turning it off.

This is why I would be totally fine with restaurants stating upfront in their policy that excessive phone usage interferes with their ability to operate. People are short-sighted and self-centered and I believe that the entitlement culture of customers in the US has gotten out of hand. I’d also be absolutely fine going to a restaurant with no public wifi. Have times changed so much in the decade that we cannot be without it? I would definitely appreciate seeing a few restaurants stand up for themeselves to say, “you, the customer, are the problem.”

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Anonymous July 17, 2014 at 6:50 am

Okay, spending an entire restaurant meal buried in a cell phone is rude, and demanding that the waitstaff take group pictures is also rude, but I don’t think asking for help connecting to the WiFi, in a place that advertises itself as having WiFi, is rude. I mean, let’s take technology out of the equation, and suppose that someone goes into a restaurant, and orders, say, spaghetti, only to be told that the kitchen didn’t actually have that, even though it was written on the menu. When Hypothetical Person complains, the waitperson shifts the blame, and asks, condescendingly, “Can’t you live without spaghetti?” Well, yes, but this restaurant specifically advertised itself as having spaghetti, so it’s not really fair to “bait and switch” like that, and blame the customer.

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Lo July 17, 2014 at 7:53 am

I’m saying it might be better for the restaurant not to advertise wifi to begin with because if they have it, people will use it.

If they have wifi and advertise it then it is very reasonable to assist a customer with it but it’s obviously causing them too many problems so it might be better to limit access.

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another Anonymous July 17, 2014 at 8:28 am

If you don’t know how to set yourself up with WIFI you shouldn’t ask wait staff who is there to serve you and others, how to connect! Your example has nothing to do with the topic – it is not bait and switch. It is about people and phones and wasting time of the restaurant and other patrons!

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DannysGirl July 17, 2014 at 9:49 am

It’s not about not knowing how to connect to WiFi. There are places that have it, but the customer needs a password to use it. Therefore, a restaurant patron would have to ask waitstaff for the restaurant’s WiFi in order to use it. I do agree with you, though, that customers constantly on their phones are wasting other people’s time.

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Jelaza July 17, 2014 at 10:00 am

Yes, waitstaff are not tech support.

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rachel July 17, 2014 at 10:25 am

Seriously? Who is supposed to help them with the advertised wifi, do they have tech support in addition to waitstaff?

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Jays July 17, 2014 at 6:11 pm

Why on earth do they have to be on the Internet at a restaurant so badly anyway?

Anonymous July 17, 2014 at 1:54 pm

My example is relevant to the topic. If a restaurant advertises itself as offering “food, beverages, and WiFi,” and it’s not obvious how to access the WiFi (password protected, inconsistent connection, etc.), then the waitstaff should be willing to help the customers with it. The “food and beverages” part of the deal is usually self-explanatory–you either sit down, read the menu, and tell the waitperson what you want, or you walk up to the counter and order from the person there. WiFi is different–some places, you can just connect automatically from your phone, if it’s set to WiFi mode, other places have passwords, and other places, you can do everything right, but it still won’t necessarily work. In the latter case, it’s best not to even advertise the WiFi as existing, because then, people will expect it to be consistent, and complain when it isn’t. So, that’s what I meant when I compared the advertised free WiFi with an advertised menu item.

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Surianne July 21, 2014 at 2:28 pm

I agree, I often go to a restaurant when I’m travelling alone for work, and I choose the place I eat based on whether it has wi-fi so I can get work done on my laptop computer while I hang out. Usually the staff seem perfectly happy to help me out (letting me know which profile belongs to the restaurant, getting the password, checking to see if it’s down if I can’t connect — basic stuff, not anything I’d call tech support).

lakey July 17, 2014 at 11:50 am

If I’m a customer at another table, and I have to wait longer to get my order taken, or my food brought, then yes, a customer wanting help connecting to wifi is a problem. If all the customer is doing is asking for a password to unlock the wifi, that would be okay because it takes about 2 seconds.

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Tanz July 17, 2014 at 5:33 pm

Anonymous, I don’t agree. There is a huge difference between wifi and spaghetti in a restaurant setting; a restaurant is there to serve food, specifically, the food on the menu. That is why customers go there. Wifi might be ‘nice’ but it’s simply an add-on and not the business’ raison d’etre. But then, I don’t think cellphones/tech and eating establishments mix. Either you’re there with company (in which case you should have no need of tech at all) or by yourself, and even then tech isn’t necessary to enjoy yourself (book, or hell even a kindle if you’re into those).

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The Elf July 18, 2014 at 6:40 am

Depends on the place, really. For instance, a writers group I sometimes join in with likes to meet at the local Panera. Wi-Fi is handy so a writer can quickly look up this or that or retrieve their draft from the cloud or save a back-up or whatever. But this is also a counter-service restaurant, and that does make all the difference.

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Jenny R July 17, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Waitstaff is there to serve food and take food orders. They are not there to provide technical support to people who never took the time to know how to fully operate their phones.

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iwadasn October 16, 2014 at 8:58 am

Anonymous, not knowing how to set up wifi and expecting the waitstaff to stop serving other tables to show you how to use your phone is more akin to going to a Chinese restaurant and expecting the waitstaff to stop serving other people to teach you how to eat with chopsticks. It is not an absolutely necessary part of the dining experience, and if you don’t already know how to do it, you shouldn’t hold the staff responsible for teaching you.

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Alli July 17, 2014 at 6:12 am

I like the idea here, although the stats in this story are pretty obviously fake, and some of the stats here have nothing to do with phones. 18 out of 45 ask to be reseated? 27 out of 45 ask for a group photo? I eat out pretty regularly and have eaten out in New York, and I’ve only ever seen waiters take group photos when it’s a birthday or similar and the waiter offers. Furthermore, if this is a touristy type place, then of course photos and similar are going to be more common.

The source of this article is actually a pretty unsubstantiated Craiglist posting (no identity provided). So take everything here with a HUGE grain of salt.

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Kate July 17, 2014 at 7:21 am

I live in a VERY touristy area, and while I agree that the numbers are probably exaggerated, it’s not by much. ( and of course we’re going to offer to take the picture for you, when you (general you) are trying to balance your phone on a pyramid of water glasses while you set the timer!)

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Calliope July 17, 2014 at 8:36 am

I got the sense that it was fake, too. I do believe that customers’ phone use has an effect on wait times in restaurants and other places, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s as drastic as this story claims it is. But the way the story was written (such as customers pausing “to do whatever on their phones,” as well as some of the numbers seeming exaggerated) makes it come across as something someone wrote to make a point, not an actual account of a professional “investigation.”

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rachel July 17, 2014 at 11:04 am

Agree. The language does not sound professional. It sounds like yet another person wanting to denigrate an entire generation based on a piece of technology that many of them use. And it sounds line they got the idea from that show on Food Network.

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Alli July 17, 2014 at 10:15 am

Just another note: the original post has been flagged and removed in Craigslist, so I would really really question the validity.

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Kay L July 17, 2014 at 10:58 am

I don’t believe one word of it. Just the premise of them having the same tape in the recorder for ten years strains credibility.

And it’s meant to outrage and shame people – tries to hit all the buttons. Scoldy glurge.

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David July 17, 2014 at 3:13 pm

While I agree that it’s probably just one of those fake posts that people make trying to shame others, the only part of the piece that didn’t strain my credulity was them having tapes in the old machines that they didn’t remove at the time.

I’ve bought used computers and DVD players that have disks in them and used VCRs that still have tapes in them. Especially in a situation where you probably have a contractor coming in to replace something I can definitely see where tapes could have been left in the old machines.

It did strain my credulity that they had kept the old machines rather than sold them.

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Kendra July 18, 2014 at 10:23 am

Yes, but security cameras are not the same as handheld video cameras. They are usually hardwired into a central system where the video is recorded. The individual cameras don’t have tapes. Also, security systems use different players than your home vcr. So, not only were they able to retrieve tapes from cameras that don’t have a place for tapes, but after 10 years, they also still had the equipment to play the video on the “monitors” that they had upgraded to digital 10 years before. The more I think about these “security cameras” the less it makes sense.

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Skittle July 18, 2014 at 4:19 pm

Actually, having worked with old and outdated security systems, I have no problem at all believing that an old system would have been replaced and stuffed in the back ‘just in case’ because it still worked and wasn’t worth anything to sell. As for old tapes, the recordings go to a central storage system, and its usually a large tape recorder, so ya, I believe that there could have been a 10 year old tape laying around in an old system. My last job still used old school tape backup for their computer and security systems, and it required us to to switch out tapes every night so they had 7 days of recordings on hand at any given time. They were also packrats and too cheap to pay to dispose of old computer systems, so there was old equipment laying everywhere. I could easily see them updating at some point and leaving a tape in the old system. Or in the case of my prior employer, updating and still using the old system too.

jen d. July 17, 2014 at 11:30 am

I’m with you. I completely agree with the sentiment (we should just set our cell phones down and experience life once and awhile), and I do believe this kind of thing happens, but it’s all a little too pat. There’s not a lot of background on the article, and it fits together a bit too easily.

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Yet Another Laura July 17, 2014 at 12:56 pm

The headline gave it away. It sounds too much like Buzzfeed-ish clickbait to me. Shocking results? There’s nothing shocking about people not paying attention.

On the other hand, I have been in gatherings where some of the people present are living through their memories, not living through the moment. It’s tough to get their attention while they’re busy lining up shots and cataloging their lives. Even people who only have land lines do this. You’re at their house and every time the phone rings, they pick it up and it’s not “I’m expecting a call.” or “So and So might need directions. Bet that’s them.” Rude is when they answer all calls and talk and talk and talk and ignore the person in front of them.

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Stacey Frith-Smith July 17, 2014 at 3:06 pm
Kendra July 17, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Yeah, the finding tapes in video cameras that had been sitting in storage for 10 years without any special packing threw me. So, not only are these tapes still playable, but they actually had something that would play them? Not likely.

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A different Tracy July 17, 2014 at 1:09 pm

If this article has already been all-but-debunked, perhaps it would be good to note that on the original post.

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mark July 17, 2014 at 1:48 pm

So this is how urban legends are born. ;-)

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remi July 17, 2014 at 3:41 pm

I actually started a comment earlier but never got around to finishing it, saying that every time I read this story it gets a little less realistic. I had typed, “A couple of friends have linked me to that story, and every time I read it I get just a little bit more suspicious of it. I’m not going to say that cell phone usage hasn’t increased or that some people aren’t irresponsible and rude when it comes to their phone usage, but the story seems just a little too perfect to believe. The restaurant and firm are both anonymous, the only tapes they find are conveniently almost ten years ago to the day, they don’t tell you how they picked the 45 customers they study, of whom every single one is apparently using their phone nonstop, in frankly odd numbers. The scientific-study style the post is written in just highlights the lack of any real data to corroborate the story.” It also bothers me that the main complaint is the almost cliche “People need to stop using smartphones already!” Again, I’m not saying that people don’t use them to excess at times, but broad generalizations insisting that everything was better back before we had them and everybody who uses them now is inconsiderate and addicted has all the validity of chain emails about miracle weight loss. Maybe there are some good points in there, but don’t believe the whole thing without some serious consideration, haha.

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Andi July 17, 2014 at 6:15 am

Wow – very informative. I admit, my hubby likes to take pics of food since he’s in that type of business, but not to that extreme.

Seems to be another example of people not being aware of or taking responsibility for thier own behavior.

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Lkb July 17, 2014 at 6:29 am

…and that’s the reason I’m off Facebook.

It’s okay for some things, but when important news about friends or loved ones gets buried by umpteen photos of people’s meals, something is seriously wrong. Does anyone really care what you had for lunch? Is that meal really such a work of art that you had to immortalize it! Get over yourselves people!

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The Elf July 17, 2014 at 10:20 am

I don’t get the photos of food either, except under 1 circumstance: It’s very special. Let’s say you are splurging at THE most awesome place where food is a culinary work of art, fine take a picture. Or if you and your former friends are getting together for the first time in 10 years, ask the waiter to take a photo. But everyday stuff? I don’t understand.

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rachel July 17, 2014 at 11:05 am

Savoring the things you experience is not a crime. Food is a vital part of life and getting angry about people enjoying it says more about you than them.

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lkb July 17, 2014 at 2:28 pm

They can enjoy it all they want to. But why do I have to have my FB news feed glommed up with pictures of plates of food that I did not eat? Maybe, if it’s a super incredible, once-in-a-lifetime extravagance. (But it still comes off like showing off pictures of a party you went to, knowing that most of those who see them weren’t invited. Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah!)

Then add to that the additional pics of the mac-n-cheese at Burger World and then multiply by X because everyone else is posting pix of their meals too.

Meh.

Especially when sometimes a connection is slow or reboots midway, requiring even more time to get to the admittedly more important and interesting posts.

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imc July 18, 2014 at 7:03 am

Maybe you’re missing the point that FB is not the place where you share your most important news with your closer friends and relatives. It’s the place where you share everything that seems interesting at any given time, with the extended network of your family, friends, and acquaintance… including but not limited to important news.
If you wait on FB for important news, maybe you should question the ties that bind you to your FB friends and the reason why said friends don’t feel the need to tell you important stuff personally.

On the other hand, FB has this pretty neat feature that allows you to remove people from your newsfeed. If silly, inconsequential posts offend you, simply hide the culprits’ profiles from your newsfeed.

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Kat July 18, 2014 at 10:41 am

This is sort of how I feel about photos of my friends’ babies. Of course, I would never suggest that my friends shouldn’t take pictures of their babies just because I’M not interested in seeing 40 posts like that.

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JenAnn July 17, 2014 at 12:07 pm

I simply hide the news feeds from people who put up tons of inane and uninteresting (to me) stuff. By doing that with a few “offenders”, my FB experience is much improved. Most people I am FB friends with aren’t over the top like that, and luckily there is a built-in way to deal with those who are.

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The Elf July 17, 2014 at 1:49 pm

I do the same, JenAnn. I resisted getting a FB account for a long time because I mistakenly thought I wouldn’t be able to adjust what went on my news feed, or what was broadcast out of my page. Since I’ve been on, I’ve tweaked it considerably and the constant food-photo-people are hidden. I’m not angry about their obsession with taking photos of every meal, but I do not understand it. And I’m someone who really, really likes a good meal!

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Shoegal July 17, 2014 at 7:24 am

I have to wonder that back in the days of the industrial evolution when things like automobiles and telephones first came into being that people had a difficult time adjusting. Things in our society are constantly evolving and there is nothing to be done about it. In ten years some other device will take the world by storm and we are going to have to learn to deal with it. Things that were designed to make our lives easier actually steal our ability to live. Can we sit in a restaurant and be completely immersed in our meal and the company without being distracted with whose texted or getting on the internet? I’ve actually spent an evening with another couple on their deck outside and me and my husband just watched as one of them fiddled with their phone and the other with a bluetooth ipod system. I was like – why are we here – it was far from an enjoyable evening. People, please put down your phones. I agree, nobody cares what you had for dinner or when you had your last bowel movement.

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rachel July 17, 2014 at 11:08 am

You can ignore problematic people in your life without writing off society completely, you know.

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Kendra July 18, 2014 at 10:37 am

To answer the first part of your question “I have to wonder that back in the days of the industrial evolution when things like automobiles and telephones first came into being that people had a difficult time adjusting. ” The answer is a resounding YES!!!! Telephones would destroy society as we know it because why would you visit friends and family when you can just pick up a phone? Automobiles go so fast they can literally tear your body to pieces. Electricity running through the walls of your house with give you everything from cancer to herpies. Washing machines, dishwashers and vaccuum cleaners were for “lazy” housewives. Good housewives cleaned their houses the proper way. Every new technology has had it’s process of “it’s dangerous”, “destroying society” and “we were just fine before we had it” critiques until they had been around long enough to be taken for granted. Electricity, for example, was truly feared and hated by many people, however today, I doubt that many people would insist that we should get rid of electricity and go back to lamps fueled by whale fat. Cell phones are more accepted now than they were 10 years ago. Give it another 10 years or so, and they’ll be as normal and accepted part of life as landlines and electricity.

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Ellex July 19, 2014 at 11:30 am

Heck, you can go back further than that and find that the printing press was going to ruin western civilization. With the printing press any yahoo could get their thoughts published in a book, not just the worthy ideas by illuminated personages. Surely this would lead to the downfall of critical thinking.

I’m sure somewhere there was a grouchy cave person who complained about fire and cooked food making people soft.

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Jo July 17, 2014 at 7:36 am

I read this online a couple of weeks ago…and while on the whole I agree that phones are a problem everywhere, I also noted that the restaurant staff depict themselves as absolutely perfect, e.g. “The wait staff INSTANTLY checks back with the party to see if they need anything,” etc. While this may indeed be true in some places, it’s not in all restaurants, of course. Sometimes the place is simply too busy and understaffed for that to happen, or else some servers are not as conscientious as others. But according to the article, in every instance they’re right on top of their game, LOL, while the terrible customers are wreaking havoc.

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TheBirdandtheB July 17, 2014 at 8:20 am

Ugh, I’m so sick of this holier-than-thou attitude people get when they don’t have a smartphone, Facebook, etc. Get over yourselves. Technology is a tool, and you can use it or abuse it.
Sure, burying your head in your smartphone while out to dinner is rude, but acting like the smartphone itself is the problem is ridiculous.
I’m also tired of this whole, “Quit taking pictures of your food! Get over yourself!” attitude. I like taking pictures, and I’m fairly good at it. Pictures are a type of art AND a way for me to remember experiences. I usually spend about 20 seconds or less taking a picture of something while I’m out and about. You might see a picture of breakfast, but I remember how much I liked it and who I was dining with (because I don’t always take a picture of SOMEONE doesn’t mean I don’t want to remember the experience).
If you dislike looking at pictures…just don’t look. I mean, I dislike looking at pictures of kids. I’m tired of all the kid pictures in my feed. I find babies boring and kind of gross, but how self-centered would I sound if I demanded all the parents stop posting pictures of their kids and just “get over themselves?”
It takes 1 second to scroll past something that doesn’t interest you.

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Dee July 17, 2014 at 9:09 am

You can take all the food pics you want (as long as you’re not holding up staff or other customers) and nobody will really care. The part that makes people roll their eyes is when you feel compelled to show those pics to everyone. Nobody cares what your meal looked like but you. That’s the point. And there is absolutely no comparison between your posting pictures of your meal and others posting pictures of people. If you equate those things as being of equal value then you have a real problem.

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Rebecca July 17, 2014 at 12:34 pm

And nobody cares what your kid looks like, except for you. (General you, not you specifically). I think that goes for just about anything posted on FB. Some people will enjoy your posts, others won’t, and it’s easy enough to just scroll past the 90% that doesn’t interest you. Some of my friends post food pictures on FB and get a zillion comments, ie “that looks good!” “I want to come over!” “How did you make that?” “I’m going to try that.”

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Kay L July 17, 2014 at 1:35 pm

It’s not true that “nobody cares what your meal looked like but you.”

I like looking at how other people are enjoying life from pictures of their meal to pictures of their sunset view over their newly manicured toes. I am not jealous that someone else got to go to the beach. I am happy for them that they are enjoying themselves and posting a pic lets me enjoy a small piece of that moment.

I post pictures of food all the time!

I posted a picture of the sautéed vegetable dish that I made from a squash given to me by my friend who is living her dream of running a farm. Several people asked for a recipe and we even discussed substitutions.

We share things with one another that improve our lives. We try out each others recipes, we listen to each other’s music, share a laugh over a funny or cute video.

I agree with The Bird–too many holier than thou scolds.

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TheBirdandtheB July 17, 2014 at 7:03 pm

I never said a baby and a meal were the same value. Jesus, only an idiot would say that. However, if you had really read my comment, you would understand that I said I find people’s baby pictures just as interesting as some people find my food pictures.

Most of the people (myself included) who post pics of their food only post 1-2 pics a week MAX. I have friends who upload the same dumb pictures of their kids almost every day. I just scroll right past them.

Here’s the thing, you don’t get to dictate what someone puts on their Facebook or Instagram, because it’s not your page. If I want a feed full of good pics or cat pics or baby pics, that’s my business alone. You are free to hide or unfriend if you don’t like my feed, just the same as I am free to hide or unfriend you.

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Dee July 18, 2014 at 9:49 am

You never said a baby and a meal were the same value? They are the only comparisons you made, equating them both together. I mirrored what you said, and you think I’m the idiot? Huh.

I didn’t dictate what you put on your Facebook, but you seem to be upset when people are sick of seeing your food pics. That would be the eye-opener for anybody with common sense. You can be good and tired of seeing other people’s kid pics and you can even express such to your friends (if you don’t want them as friends anymore, that is) but pictures of the important people in their lives really can’t equate to pictures of your meals, and if you can’t see that then I wonder if it is really the food pictures that bother people most about you.

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Huh July 17, 2014 at 9:59 am

When I am on vacation, I will take pictures of my food to send to my dad. He and I are the ones that like to try new dishes, watch countless hours of Food Network, etc. So if I’m trying a new dish I think he’d like or I think the way they plated it is pretty, I will snap a picture on my phone and send it to him. It takes all of 30 seconds, if that. My food didn’t get cold in 30 seconds. Even if he replies immediately asking questions about it or what all I’m doing that day, that whole process might take in total, 5 minutes, so again, my food didn’t go cold. So I’m finding it hard to believe that people are having a food photo shoot that takes forever and interrupts their meal so much that the food has to be sent back to be warmed.

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lkb July 17, 2014 at 11:02 am

I respect your opinion but do respectfully agree. Of course, you have the right to use your smartphone and your social media however you choose, but why do our FB feeds have to be full to over brimming with pictures of a meal that we was not ours and that we did not even attend? Why not just send a PM of the pics to the attendees and keep a copy in your gallery?

Yes, it takes only a second to scroll past something that doesn’t interest us, but multiply that by many pictures and add on slow internet connections or dropped connections and it’s taking far more than one second.

On a meant-to-be humorous note, the comment about “You might take a picture of breakfast, but I remember how much I liked it and who I was dining with…”, made me envision a sentiment like the following: “Whenever I see veal scallopini, I think of you!’ which to me, at least, is very amusing. (Please understand, I do appreciate what was meant by the comment.)

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lkb July 17, 2014 at 11:03 am

of course, that was “do respectfully disagree”.

I do my best proofreading the second AFTER I click send. ;)

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Ellsiebells July 20, 2014 at 5:41 pm

Well, if it comes to that, why does my FB feed have to be full to brimming with pictures of kids that aren’t mine and vacations I didn’t go on? Why not just send the kid pics to grandma and put the vacations pics in photo album and leave it be? After all, *I* don’t personally care that Anthony’s kid made a funny face or Claire is hanging out in Maui.

The answer, of course, is that *your* FB profile is just that- *your* FB profile, to use however *you* want. That means you can post whatever it is that strikes *your* fancy or that *you* find interesting. Some people will like what you post. Some people won’t. But it really isn’t other people’s place to demand that you post only things that *they* find interesting. If they don’t like what you post, the onus isn’t on you to stop posting what you like- it’s on *them* to either ignore the posts, or hide your updates from their feed (and then perhaps check in every now and then, if they feel like it, to see if you have posted something they find interesting). And guess what? Some people (including several commenters on this blog) do actually enjoy other people’s food pictures. The fact that you don’t like them doesn’t mean that other people don’t enjoy them or that people should stop posting them. It simply means that you don’t like them, and thus should probably spare yourself some annoyance by hiding the feeds of people who post them.

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AnaMaria July 17, 2014 at 3:04 pm

My roommate takes pictures of her food to track what she eats. Some people take it a step further and post pictures to social media as an accountability thing to work on eating healthier…but doing it all the time seems a bit narcissistic to me. Do you really think there are people out there so obsessed with you that they have to know what you eat at every meal (and, if there are, do you really want to encourage their obsession? I mean, that’s kinda creepy…)?

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Tanz July 17, 2014 at 5:45 pm

I don’t agree it’s ‘holier than thou’ I think it’s simply about usage.

To me, tech (smartphones, tablets, etc) are tools. Yes, they can be handy at times but I don’t need them; I do have a smartphone and while it can be convenient to use it at times (although I do rarely, I just don’t have the need much) there is nothing I can do on it that I can’t do without it. So it is unnecessary, even though I chose to have one. On occasion I’ve forgotten to pop it in my pocket and honestly didn’t miss it, although there have been a couple of occasions where I was glad I had it (such as one time I got lost on the way to someone’s funeral).

But to my younger friends, their tech is more ‘essential’. I’ve actually see this with younger friends and family; without the smartphone/tablet they’re a little stuck for entertainment, or to think how to access information, or even to interact with people. It’s not that they can’t, just that they’re not used to it (like some people would be if you took away their microwave, or pre-packaged food. They know how to cook, and can use and oven, but they’re just not used to it, so they’re slightly at a loss). And I do think this is sad, because it indicates that the tech has become more than just a tool for them.

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Cat July 17, 2014 at 8:38 am

I have a friend who loves to text at restaurants. If I go out to a restaurant with a friend, I am selfish enough to expect that friend to spend his time eating and talking to me. Sitting there watching him text is not my idea of a good time. I think I’ll start bringing a book so I have something to do.

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rachel July 17, 2014 at 11:09 am

Stop spending time with him since you clearly resent him for this behavior.

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kingsrings July 17, 2014 at 3:36 pm

And why shouldn’t she resent him? He is clearly telling her that her presence alone is not important enough for him to stop conversing with other friends who aren’t even there. He is being very rude to her, and she should definitely stop dining out with him.

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rachel July 17, 2014 at 6:20 pm

I never implied that the resentment was misplaced.

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Cat July 18, 2014 at 6:32 pm

You implied that I should end a friendship because of a behavior I dislike at meals. That is an over-reaction. It is childish to believe that one should say, “You did this; I shall never see you again!” and go flouncing off.
It takes a serious event to end a relationship. There’s a great line in an old movie that goes something like this, “He murdered my parents, raped my sister, shot my dog, and stole my family Bible!” Given that situation, I would end a close friendship. Over texting at meals, not so much.

Cat July 18, 2014 at 6:26 pm

I resent the behavior; I like the person. If we insist that our friends have no habits that we find annoying, most of us would live, eat and work alone.
I find my own habits adorable and part of my personal charm. I bet I can find a few friends who find them annoying. They put up with me and I with them.
Ever watch the movie, “Shrek”? Donkey tells Shrek that friends forgive one another-that’s what friends do.

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lnelson1218 July 17, 2014 at 8:41 am

Is anyone actually surprised by the results?
We see enough web sites with mentions of manners going down and problems arising due to people having their noses buried in their cell phones and ignoring what is actually going on around them.

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Cecilia July 17, 2014 at 8:47 am

I’m not surprised. I have witnessed the same scene when I have been out to eat. A whole table of people on their phones, completely ignoring each other. Why accept/extend an invite if you are just going to ignore each other?? I went to visit family in NC a few months ago. Brother & SIL invited us out to eat. They did the same thing- on the phone the whole time. I paid the bill for me & my kids and was walking out the door of the restaurant before they noticed!! Then actually asked if somethings was wrong.

I began turning my phone off and putting it away when I go out to eat years ago. I guess I’m just not as attached as some people.

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Kendra July 17, 2014 at 1:08 pm

Well, I have been part of the family sitting in a restaurant and we are all on our gadgets “ignoring” each other. You ask “Why accept/extend an invite if you are just going to ignore each other??”. I ask in return, how do you know why we are eating out. Could it be that we are eating out by necessity, and not recreation? The other question is how does it materially affect you when people, not part of your party, spend their time in public on a gadget? When my family travels, we have to stop to eat. Due to motion sickness issues, none of us can be using our gadgets in the cars, so when we stop to eat, we use to time to check maps to make sure we are still on the right course, check our emails, our facebook or play games because we have already spent 6 hours in the car and are tired of talking to each other. The point is that you have no way of knowing why all the people at that table are all on their phones and not talking to each other. My other point is that it’s not rude if it doesn’t affect you directly.

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Cecilia July 18, 2014 at 11:31 am

I was just relaying my personal experience, like many other posters, not questioning why you & your family use their phones while dining out. If you & your family require phones/gadgets to stay on course, combat car sickness & boredom, then by all means, pull them out and use them. I find it sad that you spend an entire meal never speaking to each other, whether you are on a car trip or not.

I do not think using phones is rude, per say, but I think if you are invited “out to eat” by another person and then they ignore you in favor of a phone or gadget, that is rude. If they need to check in with a babysitter or get an important or emergency phone, that is a different matter (of course).

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Kendra July 21, 2014 at 10:23 am

I understand that, and I think what your Brother & SIL did to you and your family was extremely rude. I was actually commenting on the first part of your post where you mentioned a “whole table of people on their phones”, that you don’t know the circumstances surrounding that group. Also, you finding it sad that my family tends to not talk to each other at meals when we’re traveling together, well we tend to be a family of magpies. When we’re traveling we chatter a lot because there isn’t anything else you can do in a car. By the time we stop for meals, our tongues and ears are tired and the meal is a bit of a break from each other. Honestly, I don’t see how it is rude for us to sit at a table in a restaurant and play on our gadgets as long as it doesn’t impact anyone around us. Of course, it is a free country, and you are free to think anything about us you like just as long as you don’t stop on your way by our table and say something snarky. Yes, it does happen. To me, that is more rude than our family spending our time together as we see fit.

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Cecilia July 25, 2014 at 11:28 am

I would never say anything to a table of folks using their phones, unless as you mention, it impacted me. Anyone who has stopped by your table with their unsolicited comments is extremely rude and I would be upset at them, rather than a people using their phones, if such ever happened in my presence. It’s not my business what other people do when eating out.

All families are different. Your family travels together and my doesn’t (except for husband, kids & myself). I guess in the rare occasion that someone in my family other than husband & kids were traveling with me, I would take that time to “catch-up” and spend time with them.

Wild Irish Rose July 17, 2014 at 9:14 am

When my mother passed away a few months ago, my sisters and I all traveled together to the funeral. Whenever we stopped to eat, all three of them whipped out their cell phones during meals, and checked e-mail, texted, etc. I was the only one who didn’t even have a cell phone, and I sat there with three other women, being completely ignored. I might as well have gone by myself.

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Cat July 18, 2014 at 6:33 pm

You’re with me. Bring a book.

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Kimberly Herbert July 17, 2014 at 9:29 am

My complaint about restaurants is often the opposite. I want to sit back and enjoy my meal. Lets say I’m at a Tex-Mex place. I would like to eat more than one nacho before my first course is shoved onto the table. Then I would like to eat more than 2 bites of my taco before my enchiladas are plopped on my table. Since they won’t, slow down and let me eat – at civilized pace, I use a tactic my father used to use.
1. I order drinks and appetizers only
2. When those arrive then I order my meal and ask them to not put in the order for enchiladas until after my taco has been served

I usually get to eat a few bites of my appetizers that way before it is whisked away for my 1st course. The timing between my 1st and 2nd course depends on the level of business in the restaurant. The slower it is the more I seem to be hustled out. I’m not talking about coming in 10 minutes before closing either. This usually happens when I’m on my own and eating a late lunch/early dinner.

As for electronics. If I’m on my own, I’ll often read a book. Most of my books are on Kindle. Being able to control the font size and color is great for a dyslexic. Being able to carry several books some pure pleasure, some about teaching is also great.

When I’m with other adults, usually no electronics. The only exception is a couple of relatives that work for hospitals. If they are on call, they put their phones on the table face up. They usually receive texts about anything they have to deal with. You wouldn’t believe the abuse they have gone through from other parents at their kids’ schools or even perfect strangers for “playing with their phones”. At the end of the meal when waiting for our credit cards to be returned – we will check traffic on Waze or other GPS apps if we are going to a movie other event after eating.

When I have my nieces, nephew, assorted young cousins with me, I’ll admit I usually end up looking up something on my phone to answer a question they have or using a drawing app on my Ipad to explain something. If we are just hanging out and not going somewhere specific, the question “Is there a geocache near here?” usually comes up at the end of a meal. So while I’m paying , they are checking to see if a geocache is nearby and has a history of being found lately.

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NostalgicGal July 18, 2014 at 11:33 pm

Places that snatch away food you paid for before you’ve really had a chance to eat it? I wouldn’t be eating there again. I’d also be making them comp my meal. I’d be complaining to management, the owner, and on any rating/review place I could find.

I ordered food and will have to pay for it; I can sit and stare at it if I feel like it. You better not take it away before I say I’m done with it and/or want a doggie bag. When I waitressed until someone allowed me to take that plate or put it obviously for picking up, that food stayed there until eaten or ‘given back’.

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Comradde PhysioProffe July 17, 2014 at 10:11 am

I live in NYC and eat at restaurants several times per week. Based on my experiences, I agree that those statistics are completely fake.

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acr July 17, 2014 at 10:32 am

I find it hard to believe a restaurant would post this on Craig’s list.

While I’m sure it’s frustrating for waiters to be asked about WiFi, the restaurant has it there as a perk for customers. They’re paying for it – the cost is built into the meal prices. My suggestion would be for restaurants to print up leaflets of instructions on how to access the Wi-Fi. This would be cheap – print it up on a computer, 4 copies to a page, then have a copy at each table.

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White Lotus July 17, 2014 at 10:58 am

My phone is a tool, a very convenient tool that I like very much. I do not engage with it to the exclusion of people I am with, but —
“Let’s look that up.”
“What time does the movie you just proposed seeing start?”
“We’re too late for theater X, but if we go to theatre Y we will make it.”
“Craig lives right by there. Let’s see if he can meet us.”
“Oh, my goodness! That is spectacular! You know how Ruby loves this dish. Let’s get a picture and Facebook it to her.”
There are plenty of ways to use this technology in an interactive way. IOW, not all public phone use is rude. It is the non-interactive ways that hinder real life interaction which are problematic and almost invariably rude. I think the live person gets priority.

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Kamatari July 17, 2014 at 10:59 am

I don’t know why people can’t at least be bothered to put the phone down to talk to the waitstaff. My parents and I are on our phones while we are out, but we always put them down when someone walks up to speak to us.

My way of thinking about socializing is exactly like the social meter bar in the Sims. For everyone, that bar fills and empties at different rates. For me, filling it up involves something as simple as going to Barnes and Noble, getting a coffee, and reading a book while ignoring everyone. Just sitting around others while not talking to them is all the socializing I require to not feel lonely. For others, they have to constantly be talking or the center of attention to not have their bar empty quickly.

To link this with the article, I think having access to hundreds, if not thousands of people at an instant messes with people’s social bar. It’s sad that people would rather interact without really interacting with the hundreds or thousands of people instead of the people in front of them. One of the results of all this technology is people’s social bars fill and empty super fast. They have to be interacting with the phone to constantly fill the empty whole when they stop interacting for 10 minutes.

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JO July 17, 2014 at 5:44 pm

Love this analogy! I think you’re spot-on.

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Ashley July 17, 2014 at 11:11 am

I feel like some of the numbers may be exaggerated in the article, but the overall concept isn’t surprising to me based just on my own experiences with it. Try being a cashier at a fast food place when someone is on the phone. If you can’t ignore a call for one minute to tell me what you want on your sandwich, then get out of my line until you can. I don’t work there any more but it was always one of my biggest pet peeves.

I will admit, my husband and I do play around on our phones when we’re out to dinner. We’re usually catching each other up on news we found interesting that day. He catches me up on all the geeky news, I catch him up on all the real world news. But you better believe any time a member of the wait staff comes near our table or tries to speak to us, that person gets our FULL attention. Phones go down until we’ve ordered and the wait staff is on its way to relay the order to the kitchen. Then when our food comes out, again, phones down, and we eat. Has never caused our service to be any slower than usual. Occasionally I instagram my food but I’m smart enough to realize that if it gets colder in that time it’s my fault, I’m not going to send it back.

I have however seen wait staff get slowed down by people who spend the WHOLE TIME on their phones. The wait staff is asking what sides the person wants because there is a choice and the person ordering seems annoyed that anyone would dare interrupt whatever they are doing with their phone. That in turns slows everything down.

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kingsrings July 17, 2014 at 3:39 pm

I cannot stand it when I see customers on their cell phones while being helped by a service worker – such as a cashier, waiter, etc. Put your phone down until the transaction is over! It is very rude to the person helping you and it also delays the transaction time. I have even seen some businesses putting up signs at the cash register saying that they won’t help any customer who is on their cell phone while placing an order. Good! They all should be like that.

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Jenny Islander July 20, 2014 at 3:48 pm

Our local Subways and KFC/Taco Bell combo location are owned by the same person. At all three stores, there are signs that say, “If you are talking on your phone, we will be happy to serve you after your conversation is over. Please step out of the line until then.”

No sign of a decrease in business, and the rest of us don’t have to wait while the Yacky Yackersons and Thumbelino Clickchasers ignore the server. Win-win!

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Calli Arcale July 17, 2014 at 11:15 am

I’ve certainly noticed this sort of cell phone obsession before — we all have — but it’s fascinating to see the actual data laying out the difference here. It’s pretty stark, and I have to say, the phones present a much bigger impact than I was expecting. For instance, I hadn’t even considered that restaurant WiFi would end up putting waitstaff in the IT support role, but of course it would. And considering how impressively and creatively people can mess up their electronic devices, I cannot imagine how much more difficult this must make things for the waitstaff. They’re already very busy people who must keep a lot of people happy; impromptu tech support has gotta amplify that tremendously.

I don’t see a good solution to this. I know some restaurants have installed cell phone signal blockers, but that’s likely to annoy a lot of customers; you’d have to be *really* confident in your ability to attract customers to get away with that. It does seem like an excellent argument against providing free WiFi in a sit-down restaurant, though.

The current Smithsonian magazine has an interview with Anthony Bourdain that’s really interesting, and he has strong feelings about instagramming your food.
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“Chefs bitch about it when it’s going on in their restaurants,” Bourdain says, “yet when they go out to dinner, they’re taking pictures of everything. And any notion that that’s sharing? It’s bullshit. It’s about making other people feel bad about what they’re eating. And a certain knowledge that what you’re eating is more interesting.”

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/anthony-bourdains-theory-foodie-revolution-180951848/#gbBfDMiwcH0f558G.99

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rachel July 17, 2014 at 6:54 pm

Anthony bourdain should never be deferred to on the topic of manners.

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Lisa July 17, 2014 at 11:23 am

I’m glad I grew up when I did and phones remained at home where they belonged. Shockingly we all survived without having to be tethered to a phone. Yes, I do have a smart phone, but I’m also smart enough to know when to use it and when not to.

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SingActDance July 17, 2014 at 4:40 pm

That’s a bit holier-than-thou. Perhaps when the car was invented, people were saying, “I’m glad I grew up when people stayed and socialized in their own towns where they belonged. Shockingly, we all survived without having to roadtrip to the next city.”

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Kendra July 18, 2014 at 10:51 am

:-) or how about this one for when the telephone was invented: “I’m glad I grew up when people went and visited each other as was proper. Shockingly, we all survived without having a telephone in each house.”

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Devin July 17, 2014 at 11:42 am

Best game to play when at a group dinner or specially occasion is to make a ‘phone tower’ in the middle of the table and the first person to reach for their phone has to pick up the tab (or next round of drinks). You suddenly realize that people don’t ‘need’ to be on their phone that much. I hate sitting at table with 3 people discussing what someone else posted on Facebook, one person texting their bf/gf not at the party, and 3 people all trying to instagram their food/take selfies.

(We give a pass to people on call and we also make people ‘waiting on an important business call’ set a separate ringer so there’s no cheating)

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kingsrings July 17, 2014 at 3:45 pm

I wouldn’t be okay with that. For one, there’s the risk of my phone being stolen or mistakenly taken when it’s out in the open like that. And two, I don’t need to be treated like a child and have my phone taken away from me because I can’t be trusted. I am to be trusted by people who call themselves my friends to not be on my phone (unless it’s an emergency) while out with them without having to resort to such degrading tactics.

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lakey July 17, 2014 at 11:46 am

Anyone who has stood in a checkout line behind someone who is talking on their cellphone while checking out knows exactly what restaurant employees are dealing with. By the way, I have started to notice truckers who are talking on cellphones while they drive, including while making turns and pulling out into traffic. It’s bad enough with cars, but now semi drivers?

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Anonymouse July 17, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Is there any laws regarding cell phone use while driving in your area?

You have my word that professional drivers who use cell phones on the road are the scum of the industry. They know that any accident caused by them have very little chance of hurting themselves, so they don’t care they could easily kill someone in the same accident. And unsafe drivers tend to be looked down on pretty severely by other truckers.

They are also risking their livlihood. Commercial driver’s abstracts go back 10 years in Saskatchewan (not sure about other areas), and ANY accident/tickets/whathaveyou could be the difference between getting a job or not. As well, too many points on the license (even if they weren’t in the truck) could result in losing their commercial endorsements.

Source: Married a trucker and have to listen to his rants all the time.

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Kendra July 18, 2014 at 10:54 am

How about cops using their cell phones while driving? In my area, talking or using a cell phone without a hands-free device is illegal. The cops, however, get a pass on the law because they “need to use their cell phones as part of their job”.

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Kirstenh July 17, 2014 at 11:47 am

While I agree with the idea that cell phones and ipads don’t belong at a dinner table, a lot of the information you posted is incorrect. There was no firm hired and restaurants don’t have 10 year old video of their dining rooms. It was one waiter who posted a rant on Craigslist and later deleted it. Most other servers and restaurant owners in NY agree that his numbers were way off and question where he got this from.

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Lori July 17, 2014 at 12:23 pm

This to me reads like just another one of those hysterical OMG THE EVILS OF TECHNOLOGY articles with no basis in reality, or steeped in nostalgic prejudices. People have been writing these articles since the dawn of time. I read one written in the 1930s about how the scourge of newspaper-reading on trains was causing commuters to stop talking to each other.

Since reading this article the first time late last week, I have eaten out in restaurants on three separate occasions. I closely observed the diners around me to see if I could see any evidence of this so-called Scourge of Cellphones.

I saw NONE.

All I saw were the people around me chatting, eating, sometimes watching whatever was playing on the screens in the restaurant (sports games, etc). I saw zero people staring at their phones and ignoring either their servers or their companions. I saw occasional cellphone use that did not interfere with anything.

I saw people occasionally pick up their phones and make a quick check. I saw a few food-photos (I do that myself sometimes, because I frequently write online restaurant reviews) but these took a few seconds and were not intrusive. I saw one person checking their email while their companion had gotten up to visit the facilities.

I also saw a table laughing together after one of them shared a funny video on their phone. Because that’s so TERRIBLE, isn’t it? How detrimental to social interaction that was. How zombie-like it made everyone.

I am sick to death of the media whipping up histrionics about how devices are isolating us and turning us into awful zombies. If you are in a restaurant with a bunch of people who won’t get off their phones, you don’t need to get rid of your phone – you need better friends.

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rachel July 17, 2014 at 6:57 pm

Thank you for the newspaper anecdote. People really love to think everything in their time is somehow new and worse with no facts to back up such an assumption.

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The Elf July 18, 2014 at 6:44 am

You and I must eat at very different places! I see these sorts of things all the time.

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Brenda July 17, 2014 at 12:26 pm

I went to lunch a few weeks ago at a small spot near my office. It’s nothing fancy, mostly crepes, sandwiches, and omelets. Food, drink and tip run around $15 (a bargain for the area). A woman who was dining with a friend and had her child in a stroller, literally hauled out a camera with a lens over a foot long (I used to do a lot of photography, and that’s not a casual lens and it really was over a foot long), then shoves the lens almost into the plate to take a picture. While she’s doing this, the child is crying, the waitstaff is juggling dishes trying to get around her to the other tables, and her food that she had to photograph was getting cold.

I know it’s fun to take photos. I know it’s great to be able to hook into WiFi. But if these are two major concerns of yours when dining out, you need to stop. Unless you’re a food critic, or the meal is some amazing sculpture, don’t take photos. NOBODY CARES WHAT YOUR MEAL LOOKED LIKE. REALLY, THEY DON’T. Sorry for yelling. I couldn’t hold back.

People who do have to be available 24/7 for their jobs aren’t taking up time hooking into the local WiFi. They’re trying to enjoy a meal, while praying they don’t get an email or call that will send them back to the office with their food in a box. Sit down. Eat. Enjoy your meal. If you’re alone and want to surf the net, learn how to connect to hotspots. It’s really not that hard. If you’re not alone, put down the da** phone and enjoy your dining companion’s company. Otherwise, grab some takeout and go home to watch cat videos.

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remi July 17, 2014 at 11:38 pm

Well, presumably if she had such a fancy lens for her camera she’s an actual photographer, and as such would be expected to take photos of everything. Not to say that her behaviour wasn’t rude for interfering with the wait staff and being inconvenient, or for ignoring her child, but it sounds like she would fit into your criteria for “people allowed to take photos of food.” Not to mention, YOU ARE NOT THE ULTIMATE ARBITRATOR OF OTHER PEOPLE’S HOBBIES OR WHETHER ANYBODY WANTS TO LOOK AT ANY PARTICULAR PHOTO, REALLY, YOU AREN’T. Sorry for yelling. I couldn’t hold back.

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NostalgicGal July 18, 2014 at 11:39 pm

If it’s her day job to take pictures, more power to her. The stroller, baby crying and being a roadblock; are things that should be addressed though…. it just added up to the camera was icing on a cake.

That also isn’t the ‘fairly normal’ activity going on of a zillion food selfies and otherwise interrupting things with the portable tech.

After she got the photo, did she at least deal with the baby?

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Kendra July 18, 2014 at 11:00 am

Um, yeah…..you do know that hotspot and wifi are the same thing, right? That wifi is what creates the hotspot. Also, if an eatery advertises that they have wifi, they need to be prepared to help their customers connect, It’s just part of what offering a service is about.

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Jay July 17, 2014 at 12:36 pm

It makes a good point, but since it’s pretty obviously fake, it’s also undermined pretty heavily.

Why do almost half of their customers ask to be reseated? Has anyone in a real restaurant ever observed group after group asking to move? And then all taking photos of everything in sight? I mean sure, people are on their phones all the time, but I don’t think I’ve seen someone taking a picture more than twice ever.

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Annon July 17, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Whether the results are fake or not, it got people talking…..and the truth is, if you are going out to eat a meal, and especially if you are with other people, put the phone away! If you are waiting for an important call, put the phone on vibrate right next to you, and when the call comes, take it outside, everyone doesn’t need to hear your conversation. The problem lies with everyone feeling that they are SO important and have to text, check FB, scroll the internet, whatever it may be, that people have forgotten how to have “real” conversations with “real” people. Everything lately seems to be a text, e-mail, FB post, etc. No one uses the phone to actually talk, and nothing is private anymore. If you are out at a meal, put the phone away and enjoy the ambiance, the company, the food, whatever it is. The phone (and FB) can wait!

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Alli July 18, 2014 at 6:21 am

The problem is, the fact that it was an obvious fake distracted from the real point. A well-written article asking people not to use their phones would have been better. Faking data to make a point is what gets a lot of journalists and scientists in trouble.

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Christine July 17, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Everything about the “facts” in this seemed blazingly false. I’m willing to accept it for what it tries to do: point out the nauseating phone-obsessed culture we’ve become. But the article was written in such a in-your-face way and with such seemingly exaggerated facts I truly can’t take it for face value. Do we as a society use our phones way too much and in inappropriate places? Absolutely. Do I believe that 1/3 of all diners take pictures of their food, and that it takes them 4 minutes to do so? No.

I’m 31 years old and when I go out with friends sometimes they’ll look at their phone for a few seconds and maybe shoot off a quick text. I have a few friends that are worse than others, but as a general whole my peer group isn’t using their phone for 25 minutes out of a 90 minute meal. We’re talking maybe 3 minutes total of phone use. And while I have encountered a family or two throughout the years that doesn’t speak and every single member is absorbed in their phones at the restaurant table, it’s very rare and far between. And in my entire lifetime of dining in restaurants at least once a week or so, I’ve probably had 10 photos taken by a waiter.

That’s not to say that I don’t HATE when people take pictures of their food.

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jenniferjo July 17, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Baloney. This story is pretty clearly completely made up.

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Devil's Advocate July 17, 2014 at 1:55 pm

@Cecilia and many of the other commenters:

Aren’t you the passive aggressive ones? If I was at dinner AND my dinner partner’s phone usage was bothering me, I’d just tell them. We use our phones all the time. Looking up movie times, trivia that we are talking about etc. I would agree there’s a limit, but to me it’s simple as voicing the problem to your companion. I don’t crucify the world for seeing people out to eat absorbed in their phones. That’s the choice of the people eating together–hell they could be texting each other about the busybodies who keep staring at them.

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rachel July 17, 2014 at 7:00 pm

This. My husband and I text each other when we want to joke about what’s going on around us if we think it’d offend someone who would overhear.

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Cecilia July 18, 2014 at 12:00 pm

I asked them 3 times to put down the phones so we could talk and visit since we live so far apart. My brother would put the phone for a couple of minutes, then pick it up again. SIL never put it down.

Honestly, I don’t care what anyone else at another table is doing. If you specifically ASK me to go out to eat and then ignore me, yes, I have a problem with that and I think it’s rude.

Oh and I don’t stare at other diners. Again, don’t care what they do as long as it doesn’t disturb my experience.

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Yarnspinner July 17, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Perhaps I need to get over myself. I have cooked dinner for Christmas at my brother’s home. Or, on another memorable occasion, I took the whole family out to dinner.

It was so much fun to eat pretty much alone on both occasions as my brother, his wife, their daughter, my sister-in-laws’ parents AND her brother all texted with their friends.

No, I don’t want to drop them. I suppose that telling about this suggests I “clearly” resent them . Maybe I do. After all, this was a gift to them and I am thanked by being ignored at the table.

Maybe I should drop them because I resent them or maybe, because they are my family and claim to love and respect me, they should put the blasted things away and fill me in on their lives instead of filling other people in.

Is that silly and petty of me?

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Jenny R July 17, 2014 at 7:16 pm

No it’s not petty and I would feel exactly as you do, used and taken advantage of. When someone takes you out to eat there is a social contract in place that says you make conversation, mind your language, talk with others, tell the host thank you and include everyone in your conversation to the extent that is possible. That’s good manners. To text at the table is not OK. It is the social equivalent of 60 years ago taking a book to dinner, reading the book and ignoring everyone else at the table. This behavior was not acceptable then and it’s not acceptable now. Quite frankly 60 years ago someone who did this would have people seriously wondering if they were mental ill or just what was wrong with them, because people did not behave that way.

The price you pay for a free meal someone buys you is social interaction. Don’t want to interact with them? Then stay home alone with your phone and scrounge up your own dinner.

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Devil's Advocate July 18, 2014 at 9:10 am

@Yarnspinner–why don’t you speak up at the time? I am flabbergasted by the amount of people that are so “hurt” by people texting at dinner and then are so passive-agressive about it. What harm would have come from simply having a polite spine and say “Hey [family member name] I really want to spend time with you and your cell phone usage is getting in the way of that. Could you put down the phone so we can chat. How is [recent event/work/school] going?”

Seriously, but not mentioning anything at the time you are condoning the behavior and they probably don’t think you care.

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Hellbound Allee July 17, 2014 at 2:53 pm

When there were no cell phones, we were not so busy, I guess! How could that happen?

I don’t want to see pictures of your food on Facebook.

There should be a referendum: having your phone out while at a restaurant lands you in Etiquette Hell!

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rachel July 17, 2014 at 7:02 pm

Yeah that emergency call you answered your phone for? So rude to the Hamburgler.

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The Elf July 18, 2014 at 6:58 am

How often is the call truly an emergency, though? Under some circumstances, I can see having the phone out and being ready to answer it. Let’s say, brand new parents out for the first time without the baby. Totally understandable to have a trigger finger on the answer call button. Someone dear to you is in the hospital, but not so dear that you’d be right there at bedside? Makes sense you’d be ready to answer. You’re on call at work? Gotta be ready to run.

I can understand checking to see who is calling when the phone rings. It’s your spouse? And he/she knew you were going to be out with friend? Hmmm, something might have gone wrong. Makes sense to apologize to your companion, take the call, determine if it is an emergency, and end the call if it isn’t.

I have friends who are police officers and I’ve met them for meals before while they are on duty. They’re listening to the radio at the same time they’re eating and talking with me. But I knew that going in and accepted that at any moment not only would my dining companion hush me to hold another conversation, but that they might abandon the meal and leave me with the bill! (FWIW, the one time that did happen, the friend said “I’ll pay ya back!” as she ran to her car. I finished the meal, covered the bill, and had hers packed up. And she did pay me back, the next day.) That strikes me as completely different than sharing a meal with someone who breaks off our conversation to have a long texting conversation with her boyfriend about what they are doing at that particular moment.

But I’d wager most calls taken/received aren’t really true emergencies. They’re just perceived to be important because of the always-connected society in which we live in. I think anyone would understand the need to take a true emergency call no matter where you are. The problem is when people are ignoring their dining companions for routine matters.

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KA July 17, 2014 at 3:04 pm

The bit about wifi entitlement got my goat. I agree that if the restaurant advertises wifi as part of their draw, it should work properly, but this is something I associate more with a starbucks/mcd’s type setup than a nice or even nice-ish restaurant with attentive service.

This year at our annual middle school awards ceremony, I (a teacher) was stopped by a parent in the gym before awards started. The parent was showing me their tablet as they were trying to connect to the school’s wifi service and asked me for the password. Now, our particular campus computer guy guards the wifi password like it’s the secret of life – I’m not even convinced our principal has it. So I tried explaining to the mom that I don’t have the password and don’t have a way to get it. This mom was PO’d in a major way and it made me wonder where we are that we just expect everyone to have a network that is accessible to us (general we, general us).

Sad.

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Jenny R July 17, 2014 at 7:09 pm

It is sad. Apparently she was perfectly OK with shining a light in people’s eyes and ignoring the ceremony.

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NostalgicGal July 18, 2014 at 11:46 pm

Too many think that any wifi signal around is theirs to use, free and forever. I think there was another thread posted about that in the last few months…

Once at a club meeting (we pay the local school a large yearly donation to use school space to hold meetings and workshops) I had to show the others something from the net. I drug my own laptop and my phone that does wifi; plugged everything in, got the phone doing the wifi thing and my laptop hooked to that and played the video. School has wifi; but I didn’t have the authority to access it even if I DID have the password and I didn’t. So I made it happen myself. I also have my home wifi well secured, if you want free wifi go down to the library and sit in the parking slots in your car and sponge like every other wifi-sponge in town.

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nope July 17, 2014 at 3:25 pm
Jenny R July 17, 2014 at 7:07 pm

I think people who take photos in certain restaurants or who light up their phones at the movies are breathtakingly self centered. It doesn’t seem to matter to them who they bother in an intimately lit restaurant as long as they get the photo of their meal or look at that last “lol” message in a dark theatre of movie goers. Its flat out rude and ill bred to performs actions that disrupt people who are using an establishment for it’s intended purpose. Movies are for watching in darkness, not having a light shone in your eyes. Restaurants that are more refined are for an enjoyable, relaxing meal not having flashes go off in your eyes because someone wants a photo of their brussel sprouts for the family album.

Cell phones seem to me to have made people ruder in general because they are obsessed over their phones instead of paying attention to whats happening in real life. I cannot begin to list the near misses while driving because of people who were on their phones. This may come as a shock to many in the world but it really will be OK if you turn your phone off for 3 hours. The world really will go on.

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rachel July 18, 2014 at 10:39 am

Before phones it was lipstick or coffee. Before those it was your family distracting you. Phones do not change our driving they are just yet another thing to misuse.

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crella July 17, 2014 at 8:20 pm

What is it about smart phones? My old (slide open) phone broke the day before I was supposed to go overseas, and I didn’t have much time to get a new one, to really think about my options.

The store had a bunch of phones for the elderly (no screens, just a dial pad), some phones for school kids (Disney etc) and Androids. They had only two models of non-smart phones that flipped, which was technologically going backwards from my slide phone, so I got a smart phone. I started fidgeting with the thing all the time. I’d catch myself reaching for it while sitting with MIL. It was strange. I guess it was just that it could do so much, that I ‘needed’ to use it.

I became less and less enamored with it as it turned out I had to be practically tethered to an electrical outlet (battery life was only about 2 days), and the version I got, one of the first-generation Aquos phones, had a lot of problems. MIL started saying she couldn’t see photos well, and I started to think of replacing it (it was occasionally throwing up what I called ‘the striped screen of death’ which necessitated a reboot, it was on it’s way out after only 18 months). I finally got the flip phone and an iPad. I only have the internet capability and take the iPad when I want it, and I almost never look at my phone. The iPad comes out only when people want to see photos. ‘Pocket Wifi’ and a cheap calling plan for the cell ended up being less per month than the basic calling plan for a smart phone.

All’s well that ends well ;-) but I myself was mystified by my own tendency to start phone-fidgeting as soon as I had a smart phone in my possession.

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NostalgicGal July 18, 2014 at 11:57 pm

My phone fascination wore off in about a month, then it became my ‘nag'; then I disabled a few things on it so I wasn’t tied to my master (I really want yet to take out the little blinking ‘look at me nag LED’ that served only to bleed my battery off and I could never get it to shut up more than a few minutes…. if the email access was turned on it went all day long and I couldn’t possibly even log in often enough to just wipe the mail off and keep the LED off. In 8 hours that could bleed 70% of charge) It is getting close to 3 years, yes it’s an android running slab; I have a love/hate relationship with it; and it has saved my bacon on the road and out in the world enough that it’s been justified. If you’re with me though, you are the most important thing unless it’s one phone number (which does need an immediate response in case DH won another visit to ER) or the doctor’s office is trying to call me back. I don’t mind YOU giving yours an occasional check (turn on, see if the URGENT thing happened and I didn’t hear it go off) then stick it back in pocket. Like 15 seconds….

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Spike July 17, 2014 at 10:11 pm

I work in a restaurant and get asked all the time whether we have wifi, which we don’t. At least half the askers will screw up their face in a frown as if I said we don’t have food or air or gravity. I wish these people would take two seconds and think about how appealing adding another bill on top of heat, electricity, water, rent, staff, food/misc would really be to the proprietors of a small business such as the one where I work. Not to mention the time we would waste having to keep track and shoo people out at the end of the alloted time they would be allowed to stay, which we would have to enforce because we can’t have freeloaders sitting there all day at our limited tables using the wifi on the strength of a coffee or two when we have customers who want to come and actually eat a meal.

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NostalgicGal July 17, 2014 at 10:26 pm

If you are interacting with someone, the phone needs to be off. That means giving your order or being waited on by a live person whether it is a grocery or bank line, the post office counter, or the person standing there wanting to know what you want to eat. If it involves your money, get off the tech whatever. (that means paying for something or the bank clerk trying to count out your withdrawal)

AFTER my food was parked in front of me and I was asked if I needed anything else, yes I have taken a picture or two; intending on writing a review later, better have the victim’s mugshot on the plate.

If you can’t deal with a self taken arm’s length selfie, nobody else is obligated to aim and shoot for you.

If I am out with someone the phone might be referred to but that is to answer a question about what are we going to do next or can we get ahold of X at Y, or the like. I am not texting, doing my email, etc. I am out with a real live person, they get my attention.

Wifi in a restaurant is nice but it’s only a major concern to me if I’m juggling stuff while travelling. And if I can’t get on it’s not the waitstaff’s fault. I have a niece, and she and her wonderful husband (and delightful daughter!!!!!) have a restaurant and the waitstaff use tablets to take the order and transmit it to the kitchen, etc; there the wifi is meant for the restaurant *to do business* not for the customer. They have had many irate customers walk in, find the wifi signal (and marked RestaurantBusinessOnlyThankYou) and have a fit because they can’t use the bandwidth also. They are still debating on having ANOTHER router… they DID sort the place into ‘no tech’ and ‘don’t care’ so you can get away from cellphones and such a bit if you ask. There is a bit of a central divider and that side is quieter, and the cell crowd can be closer to the bar and the sports TV.

Gist… you will survive if you turn the phone off for a bit and it will be more pleasant for everyone else IF you do, and do your person to person stuff. Such as be waited on, eat, pay for stuff…

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hakayama July 17, 2014 at 11:29 pm

Does anyone here remember the “good old days”, at least a quarter of a century ago, when using a cell phone cost 50 cents a minute?
I knew just one person, a big shot in the finance world, who felt justified to have one just in case he was be running late to a meeting and there was phone booth or there were people ahead of him.

A cartoon from overseas shows a formal table being set. The caption reads “Does the phone go on the right or on the left?”

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hakayama July 18, 2014 at 6:47 am

…there was NO phone booth… :-(

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NostalgicGal July 18, 2014 at 12:18 pm

In the days of the brick, the true self-important would have two, and be talking into two at once, one in each ear.

Remember the days of ‘exchanges’ and they were named (‘CHerry’ meant 2-4, and you would continue with 5-xxxx for example for the number, so say on the free PENCIL not pen, it would say CHerry 5-2444 as a real number?). A rotary dial and how sore your finger got after dialing a few numbers? (though you could use the eraser end of a pencil to dial with). That’s why really big cities got the low digit area codes (201 is DC I think, Chicago is 312…) so as to make it a shorter issue to dial… Remember Party Lines? And you had your own ‘ring’ that you had to memorize?

A friend of mine had a still functional BAG bearing satellite cell that was the size of a good sized purse, had a full sized handset; and a ‘real’ battery (looked like a motorcycle battery) and would last for several hours on standby on a full charge. She would take it with us on out of town trips (circa 2008) that billed to a CC if used, by the minute. Aka about a dollar a minute. It still worked and if she needed roadside assistance she had THAT. It plugged into the cigarette lighter to charge. It had been bought as an emergency field phone as they had a small ranch at that time, and since it still worked she had kept it.

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hakayama July 18, 2014 at 8:40 pm

Yes, NostalgicGal… So many original and originally good ideas get corrupted and twisted up beyond all recognition (FUBARed). To that group let’s add the bed and breakfast budget accommodations, showers for young not too affluent soon-to-be-marrieds, ditto expectant mothers.
Shall we start a list/contest? ;-)

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NostalgicGal July 19, 2014 at 12:08 am

Oh, no. We on ehell know how all that stuff has gone different ways over the years. (showers, registries and more). No lists needed; the archives here are full :)

The pointing out is we used to get along before the days of CELL.

I have my nag, it lived long enough to go off contract; it is still serving me. Spouse occasionally complains about the cost then we get in a situation on the road where we need what it can do and it saves our bacon. THAT is how it’s justified in the end, peace of mind/insurance. Still it’s not surgically attached to me and I function without it.

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MPW July 18, 2014 at 10:57 am

I used to travel a lot on business and ate far too many meals alone. I always felt self-conscious about it – dining out was always a social activity for my family and friends – so seeing a person dining alone must mean that they have nobody to share the meal with. It’s not true, but it sometimes felt that way even for me. I had seen it myself – a frustrated person waiting for a friend or a date who never showed up – it’s never good.

Now I didn’t always want to socialize, and I certainly didn’t want to invade on someone else – be it a person alone, a group, a family, or especially not a couple. So I would keep myself occupied by reading something while waiting for my food or between courses. Before wifi, smartphones and eBooks, I would bring a book, magazine, or newspaper. I even asked for a newspaper at restaurants where I didn’t have one. (This has been advice for women dining alone for a long time – bring a book and bury your nose in it, and that will keep unwanted male attention at bay.) Now I read news on my smartphone. I like free wifi, and I don’t consider it rude to do this if I am dining alone – no more than reading a book while dining alone.

When I am not dining alone, the phone is on vibrate and only my work phone gets answered (I work in a 24/7 process industry). The exception is lunch with co-workers – we aren’t far from work and sometimes need to keep tabs on what is happening presently, and how it affects our afternoon. But during lunch with outside people – consultants or sales – I follow the same rules for social dining.

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Hemi July 18, 2014 at 11:46 am

Wow, this kind of a touchy subject for some people. I do not think technology or smart phones are evil or a bad thing. It is like most things in our society- a new product is introduced and some people love it and some hate it. Some obsess over it, others could care less. Some over-use it and others use it in moderation.

It is nice if you go out to eat and the people you are with talk and interact with you. If you go out with someone who can’t put their phone down, don’t go out with them again. I think people who use their phones, tablets and e-readers when they are supposed to be working are more of a problem.

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Angel July 18, 2014 at 5:20 pm

I highly doubt that restaurant visit times have DOUBLED over the past 10 years, but I think probably they take a little longer. Most people I know are absolutely glued to their phones. These days it’s kind of the norm.

Can I just say that I think it’s utter insanity that you take so many photos of your food that it actually gets COLD while you are busy taking the photos. I can see one or two snapshots. But unless you are taking photos for a print ad, you don’t need so many photos. And usually the food for a print ad–not edible lol.

I don’t think it’s too much to ask to have the waitstaff help you if you need to connect to WiFi. But if you are not out with someone at a business-related meal, it seems like WiFi can wait. What is wrong with just interacting with your dining companions.

I don’t care one way or the other about seeing photos of people’s meals uploaded to FB. However, unless it is a meal that you made yourself–or it is something unusual like frog’s legs or something like that, I will care a lot less. I’m not sure why people think we really care about some appetizer they ordered at Fridays! I can go on their website and see a photo if I’m really jonesing for it, thanks.

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Enna July 19, 2014 at 6:07 am

My firends have used their phones to take photos before – but that was at a firend’s birthday meal: the resturant wasn’t busy as there were plenty of empty tables (Monday eveing). It’s one thing if it’s a quick selfie or group photo but if people are constantly texting or upadting FB then that is rude.

Once for my birthday my family went to the zoo and my sister was on her phone all the time texting about some kittens that her and her house mates had fostered. They were ill but it was a treatable illness not a life threatening one that reuqired ten hours of my sister’s time to be glued to her phone. I went for a meal with firends afterwards and my sister came along. She sat next to me and texted thoughtout the meal and didn’t speak to anyone. I told Mum afterwards that I wished my sister hadn’t sat next to me, one of my firends could have sat there and been more social!

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Pipkin81 July 21, 2014 at 12:16 pm

I work in catering and I have to say, phones or no phones, customers have certainly become less communicative and more demanding when it comes or ‘freebies’.

I don’t know where people are getting the advice to ‘barter’ in restaurants – the person taking your order has no control over the prices, complaining to us puts us in the awkward position of if a) we agree with you, we are viewed as unprofessional and b) if we disagree, we are told we are rude.

Customers now expect us to be psychic, I have ones who act like I am asking really personal questions when asking what they would like in their sandwich or what kind of coffee they would like.

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NostalgicGal July 22, 2014 at 12:59 am

Customers expected me to be psychic nearly 40 years ago waiting tables. How rude can I be asking which steak dinner did you want, how did you want the meat done, what potato choice, and soup or salad? Even moreso wave my little wand and produce the weird salad dressing they wanted or a soup we have never ever had for sale in the place.

There are a few places that will allow you to haggle a price; people write about them in their blogs or post them; others read this and think they can do it anywhere. I love the ones that think someplace will take a competitor’s coupon or match a price. (in restaurants)

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elsewhere1010 July 21, 2014 at 12:23 pm

I’m afraid I have to call fake on this one; what restaurant (or any business) keeps video data from a decade ago? And ten years ago, data storage was a bigger issue than it is today; whatever media was being used to store video would have been re-used, not stored for ten years for no apparent reason.

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Diane July 21, 2014 at 1:43 pm

I have spent a large chunk of my career in a nod around Silicon Valley. Over 20 years ago I was having lunch on a Saturday afternoon with a gentleman who wrote for a well known computer publication. Cell phones were new then and a bit of a status symbol. He spent the better part of lunch on that darn phone for really flimsy reasons . ( guess he was trying to impress). Needless to say, that was our last lunch together.

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justmesometimes July 22, 2014 at 1:13 pm

I was in the car driving two 17 year old girls for three hours straight, and almost every single conversation they had revolved around phones and electronics.

Kicker?

The two only see each other a few times a year since one moved away.

I asked them to put away phones and actually, talk! And then they still talked about postings and e-readers, and videos…arghghghg!!!

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penguin tummy July 23, 2014 at 1:01 pm

One of the worst meals I ever had (cold food, bad service, very expensive) was made even worse by the company. It was a birthday dinner for a friend, and so my partner and I didn’t know everyone and we were seated at the “friends” table rather than with her family. So we tried to make conversation with the other people, getting one word answers and then they would go straight back to their phone. After a little while, one of them whipped out a Nintendo DS and started playing a game at the table! This person was well over 20, not a young child. Phones at a social dinner are bad enough, but the nintendo really threw me! Who brings one to dinner?

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