I believe the "alternate drop" is somewhat unique to the eastern states of Australia. So for those of you not familiar with it, this is how it works:
At a formal event, two different menus are served, with 50% of the guests getting the meals from Menu A, and 50% getting the meals from Menu B. Every second person at the table gets the "alternate" menu. For example, if you have a table of 8 people, and the main course from Menu A is chicken, and the main course from Menu B is beef, four will get the chicken, and four will get the beef. The "drop" is totally random. That is, guests don't get to choose beforehand which meal they'd like to receive.
The rationale behind the "alternate drop" is to allow for some variety in meals, without breaking the bank (as two different menus is cheaper then say, five) and more efficient (as waitstaff don't have to bother taking orders beforehand, etc. There is an unwritten rule that guests at a table are allowed to swap meals with each other. However, guests cannot swap with people from other tables - that would be considered over the top.
The problem arises when one meal is more attractive than the other and people don't want to swap. This leads me to my issue - or rather my father's.
My dad lives in Western Australia (a state which until now, hasn't embraced the Alternate Drop). He belongs to a Hobby Club that is geared towards older men (eg ages 50 - 80). Last week, the Hobby Club had their annual formal dinner. Tickets were $100 per head. The dinner was just limited to the club, so families weren't invited. This dinner featured the Alternate Drop. For most of the members, this was the first time they had experienced it. The main course for Menu A was "BBQ Meat Platter". The main course for Menu B was "Mushroom and Goat's Cheese Quiche".
Naturally, being older Aussie males, the vast majority wanted the BBQ Meat Platter! Some of the men who had received the quiche got quite upset. They complained to the waitstaff, and asked to exchange their meals for the BBQ Meat Platter. The waitstaff obliged. However, this meant that the tables who were served first (and complained first) ended up with all the BBQ Meat meals. The tables who were served last ended up with all the mushroom quiches (as the BBQ Meat meals had run out). My dad said that a few of those men are now considering demanding their money back from the organiser, as they feel shafted. My dad (luckily) got the BBQ meat platter, but he feels that these guys are completely justified, and that the whole Alternate Drop is extremely rude and silly.
Now, I'm not the biggest fan of the Alternate Drop either, but I think in this case, the guys were rude to demand the "other" meal. Unfortunately with the Alternate Drop, when you don't get your preferred meal and no one else at the table is willing to swap, the protocol is to suck it up and just eat what you've received. I also think the waitstaff were wrong for agreeing to the ones who wanted to swap the quiche with the BBQ meat meal.
But I'm interested in hearing other's thoughts. Were the guys rude? Or fine?