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Blackberry etiquette question

ellenost Jun 4, 2009 02:09 PM

If you're dining alone at a restaurant, is it bad etiquette to read/send emails on your Blackberry?

  1. p
    pengcast Jun 9, 2009 09:28 AM

    Miss Manners would say it is OK to use your BlackBerry, but she is adamant that one should not place your PDA or phone on the table.

    1. im_nomad Jun 7, 2009 11:08 AM

      oh well, i was expecting this to be a little more heated, lol.

      as long as they're quiet, no problem, as long as they don't mind how they look sitting there with that goofy, vacant "i'm texting" look on their face. And don't ignore a server while they're doing so.

      Talking on it, no.

      I will explain further my loathing for the Crackberry. I work in a training environment, and this is one in the top ten of most annoying practices in the classroom; people who simply can't leave their cellphones or Blackberry's alone for an hour or two during a session. That in tandem with the "i'm ever so important I must bolt out of the classroom to take this call" thing.

      In this environment, even if the thing is on vibrate / silent, it's still annoying. Ever been in a classroom or a meeting while someone's Blackberry is bouncing all over the table every time the person receives a message?

      Perhaps I have a touch of the ADHD, but I find it almost impossible concentrate if i'm a participant, and likewise it's rude as hell to the facilitator, from first hand experience.

      So while that example was OT, flipping it to a restaurant situation, devices should not be on the table, and likewise no one should be talking on it at the table (and that one is for alone or otherwise).

      Sad thing is, we've been having this argument since cellphones came into existence and people started carrying them everywhere. It wouldn't be so bad, if users didn't feel the need to shout into the thing.

      1. steve h. Jun 5, 2009 07:03 PM

        i enjoy dining alone. i usually sit at the bar (short corner) and like to watch what's going on, engage staff where/when appropriate and speak with other drinkers/diners if i feel like it.

        texting? reading emails?? i don't care what my bar neighbors do as long as it's quiet. worst thing in the world is being subjected to the excruciating life details of the cell-phone addict next to you.

        1. g
          gloriousfood Jun 5, 2009 05:26 PM

          I've always wondered if you can really enjoy your meal--I mean, truly savor it, having those "Damn, this food is fine" moments--when you're texting or chatting on your cell phone. A friend said "yes" to the latter and opined that it's no different than going out and talking with your friends over a meal.

          Some of my best food moments have come from me dining alone and doing nothing else but eating (no reading, no texting, etc.). I'm focusing so much on the different ingredients and textures coming together that it's really quite fun and can be a revelation. It really adds to the experience. Then again, if I'm dining with a friend who's as enthusiastic about food as I am, that also enhances the experience greatly.

          2 Replies
          1. re: gloriousfood
            Veggo Jun 5, 2009 05:53 PM

            Well put. If your head is not in the game, tummy has no chance of scoring.

            1. re: gloriousfood
              thew Jun 9, 2009 07:13 AM

              i agree with your friend. i mean unless you hang out with dullards the conversation w/them ought to be as engrossing as reading a book or txting, no? yet you're quite capable of enjoying your meal and having that engrossing conversation. in fact, with txting or reading you can put the book/berry down when you want to focus. you probably don't want to say to your dining companion "shut up. i'm paying attention to my food for a minute"

            2. jfood Jun 5, 2009 01:22 PM

              Jfood struggles mightily with this one. Why is it anyone's business if someone is texting on a bberry. It is bad enough that there are people who intrude on jfood's dining experience by telling him he cannot have a quiet conversation on his cell phone now they want him to sit on his hands?

              Here is some good advice that jfood teaches the little jfoods:

              - when out with people focus on the people at your tale, not other tables
              - the people at other tables are there to spend time with their friends and family, so what they do is none of your business
              - as long as you are considerate and have proper manners, what you do at your table is no one else's business
              - don't let the a-holes bother you, they go home to a different house and you will probably never see them again

              2 Replies
              1. re: jfood
                c oliver Jun 5, 2009 02:35 PM

                My husband, a dear friend and I had lunch out today. I took a call that I needed to take - someone rescheduling some work on our house for Monday. I'd be shocked if the people at the next table (pretty close) were even aware I was on the phone. But texting? What's the big deal with that? Not bothering anyone.

                1. re: c oliver
                  jfood Jun 5, 2009 02:41 PM

                  some people think if they have to complain or ridicule everyday, sorta like building your vocab with Reader's Digest.

              2. kchurchill5 Jun 5, 2009 12:50 PM

                Alone, I don't care, with a wife and she knows you are expecting a call, no. A date or meeting. Absolutely NO blackberry.

                NO email, TXT, nothing is on a date of meeting unless work related to the meeting you are in. And a private quite dinner with wife, NO either unless you tell here you are expecting. I would be pissed and I certainly would never do that who I was with. Very inconsiderate in my opinion.

                Alone is difference, but never the phone, I would walk outside and leave a message. I DON"T text. Hate it.

                1. sebetti Jun 5, 2009 11:24 AM

                  A coffee shop conversation from a few months ago:

                  Girl (16? 17?): I think it’s soooo important to pay attention to your companion.
                  Boy (same age): Yeah.
                  Girl: I mean, if you can’t even talk….
                  Boy: Yeah.
                  Girl: That’s why talking on a cell phone is soooo rude.
                  Boy: Yeah.
                  Girl: Except for texting, of course. I can do that anywhere and totally be paying attention.
                  Boy: Totally.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: sebetti
                    jfood Jun 5, 2009 12:12 PM

                    cute...you forgot the gum smacking sound effects and the "like" in between every other word.

                    1. re: jfood
                      Veggo Jun 5, 2009 12:31 PM

                      What is scary is that these people are of reproductive age.

                      1. re: Veggo
                        jfood Jun 5, 2009 12:48 PM

                        why does darwin only apply to animals

                  2. NellyNel Jun 5, 2009 07:30 AM

                    I think reading or texting is fine, but I was recently sitting next to a solo diner who was talking loudly on her phone. It ruined my whole experience.
                    It was rude and annoying.
                    She was also discussing a private matter which we all should not have been subjected to.
                    I don't know what people are thinking sometimes - the mind boggles!

                    1. monku Jun 5, 2009 05:41 AM

                      No problem with e-mailing...but talking on your Bluetooth?

                      Classic YouTube Larry David clip
                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vp6H9h...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: monku
                        a
                        Alica Jun 6, 2009 04:23 AM

                        GREAT CLIP! Love that show!

                      2. ipsedixit Jun 4, 2009 11:19 PM

                        No, but I can think of two situations where you SHOULD probably not be on your BB when dining alone:

                        1. You are sitting at a communal table
                        2. You are setting at the bar and are having a conversation with the bartender, or other patrons.

                        22 Replies
                        1. re: ipsedixit
                          ellenost Jun 5, 2009 07:21 AM

                          What about dining alone at a sushi bar; is it bad form to use a BlackBerry?

                          1. re: ellenost
                            Veggo Jun 5, 2009 08:48 AM

                            In my opinion, yes. It is curteous and respectful to observe and enjoy the sushi in progress. I enjoy interaction with my chef, and sometimes with adjacent diners. I would rather sit next to a blow-up doll than someone withdrawn into their all-important world, tapping away on a Blackberry and ignoring the goings-on and their chef. They should get a small table away from the bar, no problem with that.

                            1. re: Veggo
                              Azizeh Jun 5, 2009 01:04 PM

                              I disagree. Yes, everyone should be in awe of the goings on behind the bar, but not everyone is interested in watching their food be made. Or they may simply have more pressing issues to deal with. Often times, busy restaurants will sit singles at the bar, since larger parties typically want a table, so it isn't always up to the patron. There's no reason a person should be bored just to pacify the people next to them if they aren't disturbing them. A person quietly reading their emails isn't causing a disturbance, so who cares? They aren't obligated to engage in conversation or spend their meal time making others happy.

                              1. re: Azizeh
                                NellyNel Jun 5, 2009 01:24 PM

                                I agree with Veggo, I think it's rude.
                                I'm sorry but a meal is meant to be enjoyed. To sit at the sushi bar is an entitled experience and should not be wasted on someone who has "more pressing issues to deal with"
                                I would certainly note someone who was doing it.
                                (obviously I'm sure it sometimes you may pick up your phone (if you are dining alone) - to check a message or something - but you should not be fixed upon it for the duration. IMO

                                1. re: NellyNel
                                  Azizeh Jun 5, 2009 02:29 PM

                                  I understand what you're saying, but I'm working as a server during my law school days and business people are our best customers. Sure, they may have their nose in a pile of papers, but they aren't bugging anyone. I also think it's fun to talk to strangers, especially in a restaurant, but I've also gone out alone just to think about things or escape from other realities. Not always in the mood to chat. I don't think dining out is only for those who want to make friends with their neighbors on the barstool.

                                  1. re: Azizeh
                                    NellyNel Jun 5, 2009 02:36 PM

                                    Funny - and maybe I'm old fashoined and a hypocrite, - but I'll read a book at a sushi bar!
                                    But something about the constant use of a blackberry annoys me!

                                    I also think the atmosphere of a place means allot too (casual vs. quiet sedate)

                                    1. re: NellyNel
                                      hotoynoodle Jun 7, 2009 04:52 AM

                                      blackberries have internet as well -- if i haven't got a book, i'll read the ny times, or other feeds, on my "crack". however, i usually read a book while i dine alone, yes, even at a sushi bar.

                                      i work with the public and often times, eating by myself is a nice way to decompress for an hour.

                                  2. re: NellyNel
                                    thew Jun 9, 2009 07:03 AM

                                    "I'm sorry but a meal is meant to be enjoyed."

                                    this i agree with. however for some people reading, sending mails, or whatever, is enjoyable. it is about them enjoying their experience - not you enjoying their experience.

                                    "To sit at the sushi bar is an entitled experience and should not be wasted on someone who has "more pressing issues to deal with"

                                    this i couldn't disagree with this more. it is not an "entitled" experience. it is a meal, plain and simple. It is entirely possible to read a book, or do your email, and enjoy your meal at the same time. or, if not for you, for many. it is for me. It is not wasted in any way shape or form. that's like saying that if i have a conversation with someone at a restaurant the experience is wasted because you focused on something other than the food.

                                    1. re: NellyNel
                                      hotoynoodle Jun 9, 2009 07:36 AM

                                      this thread was on my mind last night as i enjoyed some kai ten sushi. the restaurant was still quiet (it was only 5:30). the chefs had very little to do and were for the most part just shooting the breeze amongst themselves.

                                      if i'd brought nothing to read, hoping only to gaze in wondrous awe at their magical knife skills, i would have been bored to tears.

                                      i'm reading a book i love, had a brief talk with my neighboring diner about it, cuz he'd also read it, and enjoyed some lovely small plates and a glass of wine. in peace. very nice.

                                    2. re: Azizeh
                                      Veggo Jun 5, 2009 01:31 PM

                                      I can't disagree with anything you said. But if someone spends 90 minutes 2 feet from me and is unwilling to exchange pleasantries or acknowledge my presence as if I am nothing more than a tree stump, I would prefer the blow-up doll.
                                      I pity people who weave their own cocoons. That's not what life is about.

                                      1. re: Azizeh
                                        n
                                        nkeane Jun 5, 2009 06:28 PM

                                        the sushi bar analogy is a very, very, very, very, very, (one more time for good measure!) VERY unique situation. How best to explain this...........If you got invited to someones home for a dinner party, but were coming alone, would you sit at the table and Crackberry away? I doubt it. That is the best equivalency I can come up with, because a sushi bar is much like the Itamae's home! Show him(I say him because its most likely the case. not always but most times,) the respect you would show someone in there house, and good things and good experiences will happen to you!

                                        come to think of it, this is good advice for all restaurants!

                                        1. re: nkeane
                                          thew Jun 9, 2009 07:08 AM

                                          no. the sushi bar is not like visiting someone's home.it is like visiting a restaurant.
                                          the purpose of a service establishment is to serve the customer, and to respect them, not the other way around.

                                          sometimes i speak to the itamae. sometimes i read a book. sometimes i do neither. sometimes i do both. any itamae who has a problem with that should stay home and prepare food in private.

                                          1. re: thew
                                            NellyNel Jun 9, 2009 07:39 AM

                                            Wow thew - you are certainly quite opinionated on this subject!

                                            If you feel that you can enjoy your dining experience while e-mailing etc. - then who are we to doubt you?
                                            I find it surprising, and I certainly wouldn't argue with you, but to say:
                                            "the purpose of a service establishment is to serve the customer, and to respect them, not the other way around."
                                            Is just wrong.
                                            Why on earth would you feel like you are not obligated to respect your dining establishment???
                                            Aren't we all obligated to respect everything in this world?

                                            1. re: NellyNel
                                              thew Jun 9, 2009 09:48 AM

                                              obligated? no.

                                              i do respect my dining establishment, but i am not obligated to. the establishment, however, is in the business of meeting my needs. I would prefer my itamae likes me, but honestly, if i want to read a book or check an email, and that bugs him, it isn't my problem.

                                              1. re: NellyNel
                                                hotoynoodle Jun 9, 2009 10:00 AM

                                                "Aren't we all obligated to respect everything in this world?"

                                                sorry, but i find that perspective very bizarre. behaving politely in a restaurant is something that isn't contradicted by quietly reading a book or e-mails on your crackberry.

                                                when they're busy, the chefs have other things on their minds besides who might be watching. they're, ya know, *working.*

                                                1. re: hotoynoodle
                                                  NellyNel Jun 9, 2009 11:31 AM

                                                  Hoto - I'm sorry - I didn't mean to say that I thought reading/texting etc in a restaurant is rude.
                                                  I was responding specifically to Thews comment : "the purpose of a service establishment is to serve the customer, and to respect them, not the other way around."
                                                  I just found the remark to be so self entitled that I didn't know how else to respond !

                                                  I also enjoy a solo meal with a good book in hand. It is very relaxing and kind of indulgent, and like you, have been known to read at the sushi bar.

                                                  I don't mind texting or checking e-mails as long as you're not disturbing anyone. I'm sure most everyone would agree on that.
                                                  There are so many different sushi bar experiences - some do command the attention of the diner and so do not. It all depends. There is no law, but if you feel as though the chefs are trying to show off to you,, it is respectful to give them a moment or two of your attention.

                                                  I used to work in a sushi bar years ago, and the female chef was quite shy, but very proud , and she loved it when the diners were completely engaged in what she was doing. But I certainly don't think she was insulted if they were not.

                                    3. re: ipsedixit
                                      jfood Jun 5, 2009 01:40 PM

                                      jfood eats a lot at the bar as a solo while traveling. He spends 8-10 hours a day in conversations with people and this is his down time. He brings his book or does his emails while there. He also does not speak to people onthe plane.

                                      His Meyers-Briggs feedback firmly confirms thathe is OK with this approach.

                                      1. re: jfood
                                        Veggo Jun 5, 2009 02:01 PM

                                        My MB is ENTP. We are all entitled to different styles. No right or wrong. I travel a lot, also, enjoy sushi, and the sushi bar is efficient for single parties. All else being equal, I have had better experiences when my adjacent dining companions are more interesting than a corpse.

                                        1. re: Veggo
                                          jfood Jun 5, 2009 02:07 PM

                                          And jfood has a "I" leaning towards an "E". As you said different strokes.

                                          Two weeks ago jfood was intent on watching a chef prepare the meal as he sat at the bar seat overlookingthe kitchen. The guy sitting next to him was, let's be kind...lonely. jfood does not relax when someone is trying to strum up a conversation when it was not on jfood's agenda, especially when that personis already making the hair on the back of jfood's neck a little itchy..

                                          1. re: jfood
                                            Veggo Jun 5, 2009 02:23 PM

                                            I would like to think I can sense when people just want to be left alone. Yes, you are somewhat more introverted. I think in middle age I am moving from E to I. These days more than ever, not enough people are in a happy mood.Let's hope for a rainbow.

                                          2. re: Veggo
                                            hotoynoodle Jun 7, 2009 04:59 AM

                                            i was reading faulkner's "absalom, absalom" one night at a sushi bar. the couple next to me was loud, in a very quiet atmosphere. the man leaned over, pushed my book up to look at it, and said, "oh, i know that book: 'absolut, absolut.'. have you read the new michael crichton?" it went downhill from there.

                                            i'm not averse to chatting with my neighbors at the sushi bar, and i make nice with my sushi chefs. however, i'd rather enjoy a little quiet time, with my book, my thoughts and my meal, than feel like i'm obligated to entertain everybody around me.

                                        2. re: ipsedixit
                                          thew Jun 9, 2009 06:57 AM

                                          why should dining at a communal table make a difference?

                                        3. Kajikit Jun 4, 2009 07:58 PM

                                          If you're dining alone, you can do whatever you like as long as it doesn't disturb the other people in the restaurant. If your phone is silent, go ahead... just don't take phonecalls at the table.

                                          1. s
                                            soxlover Jun 4, 2009 04:17 PM

                                            I was thinking "fruit" also. I see many of the foodies are quasi-luddites, lol. Go for it unless your server is trying to get your attention.

                                            1. kubasd Jun 4, 2009 02:35 PM

                                              haha me too! I was like.... sharing blackberries? removing seeds? using hands to eat them? lol. but no, it's not bad etiquette, in my book, if you're alone

                                              1. s
                                                small h Jun 4, 2009 02:27 PM

                                                I am immensely proud of myself for initially thinking you were referring to the fruit.

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: small h
                                                  c oliver Jun 4, 2009 02:32 PM

                                                  Me too. I couldn't imagine an etiquette question about eating blackberries :)

                                                  And why would OP think that it would be inappropriate?

                                                  1. re: c oliver
                                                    susancinsf Jun 6, 2009 02:26 PM

                                                    I figured the question was going to be whether it was rude to go onto the neighbor's property to pick blackberries... :-)

                                                  2. re: small h
                                                    enbell Jun 4, 2009 02:33 PM

                                                    Guilty as well. I assumed it was a seed-removing question!

                                                    1. re: enbell
                                                      j
                                                      janeh Jun 5, 2009 05:31 PM

                                                      Me too - perhaps how to remove seeds from teeth, unobserved.

                                                    2. re: small h
                                                      c
                                                      cimui Jun 4, 2009 10:08 PM

                                                      great minds must think like mine. ;)

                                                      ellenost, i always blackberry if i have to dine alone and have forgotten my reading (or if my reading isn't something i should be whipping out in public). even if you don't actually have any emails to send, brickbreaker makes for good company.

                                                      1. re: cimui
                                                        thew Jun 9, 2009 06:57 AM

                                                        what reading shouldn't you whip out in public?
                                                        (i'd say as long as it's just reading material you're whipping out, go for it)

                                                        1. re: thew
                                                          c
                                                          cimui Jun 9, 2009 09:30 AM

                                                          teehee. oh, i think i can just leave that up to your ample imagination.

                                                    3. Veggo Jun 4, 2009 02:25 PM

                                                      Alone? You can juggle flaming chain saws. With companion? 86 the Berry.

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: Veggo
                                                        ellenost Jun 4, 2009 02:35 PM

                                                        You're absolutely right about 86ing the Blackberry when dining with a companion. Nothing sends a message that your companion doesn't want to be dining with you if he's sending messages. One of my outside counsel did that during a business lunch; I haven't given him any business since then.

                                                        1. re: ellenost
                                                          Veggo Jun 4, 2009 02:53 PM

                                                          A toast to you!
                                                          Veggo
                                                          LLB

                                                        2. re: Veggo
                                                          KaimukiMan Jun 8, 2009 09:07 PM

                                                          where do i get tickets to see the flaming chain saw juggler?

                                                          1. re: KaimukiMan
                                                            Veggo Jun 9, 2009 06:35 AM

                                                            I should be out of the burn unit in a couple weeks, but on the bright side I have learned how to type with my nose.

                                                        3. pikawicca Jun 4, 2009 02:20 PM

                                                          No.

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