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Texting at the table.


I went out to lunch with a couple of friends to a casual upscale restaurant, while seated and before the server brought our drinks and menus one of the group takes out her cell phone and begins texting. Well... ok... maybe it was an important message.... But this continued through lunch, and was in my opinion rude. Of the 3 of us at lunch only she answered any texts, or even brandished a cell phone (I silence mine when I eat) I expect this from teenagers, they are rude and have zero respect at restaurants it seems, but not a 40 year old woman. I wish restaurants had a NO CELL PHONE zone, like non-smoking.

  1. with you 100%. If you are expecting an important call, or have kids/parents/sig others who may need you, leave it on vibrate & discreetly check if it buzzes. For the duration of most meals, it shouldn't happen more than once, if at all.

    My FIL lives by his cell phone & when he is here eating with us I will just say "No cell phones at the table" & he sheepishly puts it away ... til the next night when he does the same damn thing.

    4 Replies
    1. re: elfcook

      This is evidence of the downfall of courtesy in our society. Families cannot sit and have a communal dinner; an activity that has been the norm for centuries. It is the event that keeps the family blood flowing. As far as friends; in my opinion, your associate is telling you, non-verbally, "Oh you don't count", I am more important than all of you at the table.

      1. re: ospreycove

        I know that we are talking dining and chow here, but I see similar with family travel. Many children will not travel, unless they have constant stimulation from a DVD player in the rear seats. Who cares if all of America is going by outside the vehicle's window - gotta' see "Shrek 3" for the 40th time. I then see many of these youth in dining situations, where they spend the entire evening with a cell phone in their face.

        I know that my wife has many necessary business calls and text messages, and respect that. Still, I take her to a couple of places, where there is NO cell coverage. She had to find a big rock, outside our cabin, and then hold her Blackberry up in the air, to get a signal .Lovely. Now, when we hit Denver International Airport, she had over 300 voice mails and double that number of urgent text messages. She spent the next 5 hours in the RCC there, returning those, and trying to put out a half-dozen major fires. Still, I had her undivided attention for about five days! Sometimes, you have to just travel to those "dead spots," and I have been keeping a list of them - and going there, when I can steal her away.


        1. re: Bill Hunt

          Just one bone to pick with you...I still have vivid memories of traveling across country in the 70's with my family. I would have had given ANYTHING for the mindless amusement of a DVD player. Three girls in the backseat (Mooooommmm!....Jane is on MY side! Susie touched me! Mary keeps looking at me funny!) for three 12 hour days? I don't care how beautiful the landscape is, it wasn't fun AT ALL.

          That said, visiting my in-laws became much more attractive when I realized that there was no cell reception at their house and in the real world, I'm a total pro at ordering for my husband while he's pacing in front of the restaurant talking on his cell phone while I drink my cocktail and draw with my son.

          1. re: sebetti

            [Insert great big grin here!]

            Now, I was a kid, who loved to see the world go by.

            When we began traveling with our niece and nephews, hand-held games were the vogue. Most of them had at least one. Their dad would try to get them to watch the scenery, but met with resistance. Now, all are grown, and each has confided in us that they missed so much of America (most of these trips were in the New Mexico, Colorado, or Utah high country), and only wish they could have those trips back again. I wish that we could too.


    2. I had a girlfriend like this. We are no longer friends. If you want to talk to your other friends so much when in my company, that tells me something about our friendship. Go be friends with them, then. When in the company of her other friends, not only did they all sit around texting others all at once, but they even texted EACH OTHER while sitting at the same table. I guess, akin to whispering about someone else? Makes me feel really old.

      1. Have you considered dropping her cell phone in her soup? If she didn't order any, order some for her! '-)

        4 Replies
        1. re: Caroline1

          I have a friend that would always be looking down in her lap ads she texted during dinner. I mentioned to my SO and other friends; next time we all go out I was bringing a coloring book and crayons!!!!!!!

          1. re: ospreycove

            Things like that help you figure out which friends are keepers.

            1. re: ospreycove

              I actually am less offending if the person is drawing with crayons on a coloring book. I actually had never been to Macaroni Grill until this year and I were pleasantly surprised that they provide me cayons and paper. I immediately started drawing, so was my friend.

            2. re: Caroline1

              I like the way you think Caroline! It can happen with hand held games too. I hadn't seen my friend John in quite a while and we had lots of catching up to do, but he was too addicted to his nintendo DS pokemon game to say much to me. John is 26. And he had two DS units and kept switching them out so he could play two games at the same time. My Dinner With Andre it wasn't.

            3. I think that is so rude. And shows an appalling lack of manners. Gryphonskeeper, you shouldn't expect that behaviour out of teenagers either! My children KNOW that is not acceptable behaviour. There is no texting at the table either at home or out in restaurants. And they think it is rude if their friends do it.

              2 Replies
              1. re: decolady

                My 17-year-old "nephew" when asked if his friends texted other friends while they were out said "some of them do, and some of them have manners."

              2. Rude rude rude. She is probably tweeting "Hey I am eating with two boring people."

                1. i agree with all the comments -- unless it's an emergency / required for your job -- it's beyond rude.

                  but - unless people speak up and just ask their friends to put the phone down so that they can talk to each other (rather than others) -- i think some of these people will never even know they're being rude (some, of course, will know -- and are just rude).

                  1. How rude. As she's a friend - could you not have a blunt (but friendly) word with her?

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Harters

                      I actually sent her a text.. I figured she was sure to get the message. I just said "I hope I am not interrupting a meal with friends, I know first hand how rude that would be"

                      1. re: gryphonskeeper

                        Awesome move. Did she text you back?

                        1. re: linguafood

                          It took her about 8 hours to reply, and she said "yeah I hate when people text me when I am eating"
                          I told her maybe she should do what I do, shut it down and wait until after she eats to check and reply.

                          1. re: gryphonskeeper

                            Ok, I have to ask- why are you using such a passive-aggressive way to point out the obvious to her, especially since she obviously didn't get the point? Why not just politely ask her to focus on the present, physical company and put her phone away? I'm sorry, but I don't see the point of venting on chowhound when you forego the opportunity to actually resolve the situation. Makes no sense to me.

                            1. re: mjhals

                              Mj, she is... well daft. I hate to say it but she is. I care for her as a person but she is daft. I could show her the forest, and she would miss the trees if you catch my drift.

                              1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                So daft that she wouldn't understand, "Could you put that away, please?"

                    2. What this thread is showing is that certain people have become powerless in controlling the devices that have been designed to serve them. As a youngster, my parents wouldn't answer the phone during mealtime. "If it is important, they will call back..." was their mantra.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Tripeler

                        My parents and I am the same with that. I refuse to answer the phone during dinner, they can leave a message.

                      2. many of these messages end up on twitter or FB telling the world where they are and what they are eating, even pics of their food.

                        1. I think it is impolite and more importantly annoying. I have seen interviewee texting in the middle of an interviewing dinner. I will say it is still less disruptive than making a vocal phone call.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            I'm guessing that "interviewee" never made the transition to "employee".

                            1. re: ricepad

                              :) No he didn't, but I should be clear that he didn't miss the offer due to that alone.

                              It is not deal breaker, but when all else is similar between interviewees, then less important things start to weigh in and can tilt the result. No one would say "We shoulnd't extend the offer to him because he texted during lunch" in the decision room. Instead people say things like "I am slightly concern about his communication skill and his ability to work smoothly with others".

                          2. I have no tolerance for this. It is beyond rude.

                            If you have a potential emergency and need to monitor, a discrete glance at a phone set to vibrate will keep you up to date.

                            I was on a road trip several years ago and needed food and a rest room. The local Steak and Shake was about the only option. Seems a Friday night is teen night at this location. Filled with groups of teens, limited mingling of the sexes, but lots of looking. Then I realized that there was very little talking - they were all texting each other! Felt like I was watching a teen movie with the volume off - very strange.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: meatn3

                              I wonder what nation we are becoming. Some people text on every single little thing, like "I have reached the mall" and "I am looking at this beautiful dress" and "I am eating at Chic-Fila-A". Really? Are these really important?

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                A legend in their own minds!

                                I am truly boggled by the whole thing. But I am also the type who has trouble understanding how a person could consider their 2,000 Facebook "friends" to really be friends.....I have a great many acquaintances, but the few I call friend really are in the deepest meaning of the word.

                                BTY, "I'm posting to my zillion CH friends now!"


                            2. I am truely amazed at how many people do this and even worse, think it is totally acceptable. It is incredibly rude to text while another person is talking to you or to interrupt a conversation so that you can pick up your cell phone and have a long chat with another unless, of course, it is an emergency.

                              1. Did she even say anything? People seriously underestimate the value of an apology or "excuse me".... when they do stuff like this.

                                I have a good friend who does this type of thing frequently (not texting, but answering the phone0, and yes, I've said stuff to her about it. Thankfully her "pros" outweigh her "cons", so I've kept her :D

                                1. Terribly rude! I would have announced out loud during of the middle of this (since you say you all were friends) "The Next Person Who Texts or Takes a Call Pays for everyone!" and call a vote.

                                  1. Texting is just rude when you eating. Of course talking is even worse, especially when someone walks up behind you talking loudly and startles you. I would love to have a cell phone jammer, but I think they are illegal in the US.


                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: cajundave

                                      I ead about those thing. Imagine what would happen if you turn one of those babies on a bus or train. I bet a quarter (25%) of the passages would freak out.

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        Yes it would be funny and satisfying. I read up on the jammers, they are illegal in the US and the FCC can fine you $11000 per use, although no one has ever been fined. I still want one.

                                    2. Not only do I find texting at the table rude, talking on the cell fits in with that camp as well. Far too often I see friends who are hanging out together who, instead of carrying on a conversation, are busy texting others. I often ask myself what is the purpose of spending time when your concentration is diverted to other more (apparently) important things. I grew up in a household where the family sat down to dinner every night. Telephones were not picked up during meal time.

                                      The problem isn't the technology. The problem is how people are allowing common courtesy to be thrown out the window in favour of moments of instant gratification. Individuals allow their lives to be ruled by technology, instead of ruling it.

                                      I miss the days when you could sit in a restaurant (or mall, or grocery store) without having a nearby diner's cellphone ring or buzz.

                                      1. why do people care about what happens at other tables if it does not bother them. If someone is sitting with a group at another table texting, jfood could not care less. If someone is speaking at the same decibel level on a cell phone to his left as the table to his right, he could not care less. when the jfoods are out with friends and someone needs to text a kid who may have a question, no big deal, that person obviously thought it was important enough to interupt the meal and if it were important they would take and text outside and that would take 3X as long.

                                        jfood cares what occurs at his table and his group is mature enough that (a) they respect each other and would not be rude and (b) if they need to take a call or text then they rest of the group carries on until they are done and return to the flow, sorta like getting up and using the facilities.

                                        many need to mind their own business. jfood's mother lives in FL, not at the next table.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: jfood

                                          as ever the voice of reason, not rules. thank you jfood.

                                          we live in 2010, not 1950. We have different expectations about communication. There is no such thing as a telegram. I don't remember the last time I saw a matre'd come to a table and discretely let someone know there was a phone call for them (but it used to happen... ive seen it on black and white re-run's.) What is an answering service? What was the last restaurant you were in that had even one, let alone a couple of pay phones discretely placed near the restrooms?

                                          Good manners are determined by the group involved. If 5 or 6 of us are having dinner together to plan another function, we may well have good reason to be texting, twittering, and phoning from our table. Good manners dictate that those around us mind their own business so long as we keep our voices (and alert signals) at a reasonable level. If a bunch of young people choose to keep different standards than those of us who grew up in a different time, that is their prerogative.

                                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                                            thanks for the kind words and agree KM.

                                            They need to re-write the SNL skit as well with the shark (take off of Jaws) knocking on the door of the hotel room saying "telegram" to "Txt message." Most do not remember what a telegram is.

                                          1. re: ChinoWayne

                                            so if jfood is a solo sitting to your left on a cell phone and the couple to your right are having a conversation, boith at the same decibel level you feel that you have the right to use this device? Does this encroachment also extend to other items? For example if you believe in ketchup on a hamburger and the couple to your right adds mustard and not ketchup but jfood uses ketchup, do you take your mallet and smash the burgers to your right since you disagree with what they are doing?

                                            1. re: jfood

                                              Ketchup and mustard are condiments. Both are fairly benign with decent table manners. Tabasco and Worcestershire Sauce, however, have boisterous reputations and the potential to alarm solemn diners.

                                              Cell phone users at restaurant bars tend to be annoying for two simple reasons:

                                              1). Mobile technology is such that you usually have to speak well above the ambient noise level. If dining neighbors to my right were as loud I would not be happy. If the cell phone user to my left was fairly quiet, I wouldn't notice and wouldn't care.

                                              2). Many cell phone users at restaurant bars (where I eat a lot when traveling) seem to suffer from a curious affliction that requires them to call someone for no apparent reason, speak well above the ambient noise level and, worst of all, insist on sharing the most intimate details of their pathetic little lives.

                                              I'm not too fond of folk who use a flash when taking pictures of their dinner plate either but that's just me. I also hold children behaving badly in the same regard as adults behaving badly. I generally blame the parents, however.

                                              just my $0.02.

                                              1. re: steve h.

                                                which was why jfood wrote "boith (sic) at the same decibel level"

                                                loud speaking is loud speaking, but why does speaking at the same level create such vitriol. jfood once sat between two 2-tops. to his left was a husband explaining his affair to his wife (and she had a steak knife in her hand. to his right was a newlywed with her mother explaining her new husband's failures in the bedroom. On the other side of the room is a bunch of drunks telling loud and lewd jokes. And jfood is sitting there explaining his day to mrs jfood, 500 miles away. Why is jfood the bullseye of the rage?

                                                another couple of pennies into the pot. :-))

                                                1. re: jfood

                                                  I know. I was adding a little more background and depth to your position.
                                                  At the end of the day, boorish behavior is a primary cause of dining tension.

                                                  1. re: steve h.

                                                    roger...that will be jfood at brennans on wed txting and chatting quietly. :-))

                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                      It's a neighborhood bar. Nothing fancy. My kind of place.
                                                      Substitute the onion rings for the fries if you feel like it.

                                                      edited to add: you'll like the barkeep, she's good people.

                                                      1. re: steve h.

                                                        what do you mean by substitute...gotta have both. received a picture and it looks like a great place for a relaxing burger.

                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                          It's all a matter of appetite. Sit at the bar, chat up the barkeep, have fun. There should be a raggedy copy or two of the Post and the News somewhere. I bring a copy of the FT on occasion but they don't yell at me.
                                                          There are precious few neighborhood bars in Stamford. Brennan's is a keeper.

                                            2. re: ChinoWayne

                                              Nope, that crap doesn't work properly. You'd better use some taiwanese jammers like http://www.jammer-store.com/ff15-worl...

                                            3. Interesting, and possibly a sign of the times. Took nephew to brunch, where he was hitting us up for a full-boat to culinary school. During most of the meal, he was busy texting. Oh well, maybe someone else will pick up the tab.

                                              My wife is on-call, 24/7, but is very, very good with this. She might peek, below table level, but unless all heck is breaking loose, she ignores things. If they DO break loose, she excuses herself and deals with things.

                                              Maybe because my life is simple, I am not going to take a call, or look at a text message, while dining, even in an informal setting. If I do need to take a call, it's in the lobby, the parking lot, or at the Men's Grill at the CC - never in the dining room - never!


                                              6 Replies
                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                  Does Nephew know why Uncle Bill Hunt will not be participating in the funding of his schooling?

                                                  1. re: ricepad

                                                    We never got around to that part of the conversation. I did not bring it up, and neither did he. However, those text messages might well have been from a benefactor, or from some culinary school placement office, so maybe all is well? At his age, I did not feel compelled to try and change his habits. After about 18, they are on their own.

                                                    Wish him well, and hope that things do work out. It could have been easier. This was going to be the second offer from us for culinary school. We even got him interviews with several local chefs, who offered their time to share with him. Then, he passed for a much more glamorous life, sans school.


                                                  2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                    Bill, it must be the dry Phoenix air that causes this dead-brain activity! We had something similar happen a couple of months ago and I remain stunned today. A family we did not know well called to ask for a visit, they had moved out of town and returned for a short time. We agreed and i invited them for lunch.

                                                    After some pleasantries, we were seated at table. During lunch, I noticed lags in the conversation and realized that all four of them - mom, dad, son & daughter - were texting out of sight. When I asked about it, they admitted they were texting friends and, from time to time, each other! It wasn't long after this disclosure that the father asked us for a substantial loan .................

                                                    Usually, I try to be tactful but this time I blurted out "Oh, NO! We've learned the hard way never to loan money". They left immediately after dessert, not bothering to stick around for cleanup, etc. and we have not heard a peep from them since.

                                                    1. re: Sherri

                                                      "Each other?" What were they thinking? Were they not seated at the same table?

                                                      Now, my lovely and loving wife has admitted texting a co-worker at the same board table in a boring meeting, but that is her business.

                                                      Maybe it is the dry, high Sonoran Desert air?

                                                      For me, I hate to spend the time to read the wine list, and choose the wines for the evening, as it takes me out of the table conversation, and I hate missing that. It's part of the reason for being there, but maybe I am just "old-school," and out of touch?

                                                      I have also found that the best way to loose a friend is to load that friend money. I cannot recall that it has ever worked out well.


                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                        In college my roommate and I would instant message each other from across the room, as would many of our friends. It is all part of playing with technology. Of course, that was in a dorm room and not at the dinner table.

                                                  3. I can't remember where I read it, but someone said that if it would be appropriate (time & venue) to be doing a crossword puzzle, it's appropriate to be on your cell phone/texting. I think that's an apt rule of thumb. Although maybe not for talking loudly on a cell phone on public transportation.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: quirkydeb

                                                      Well, I've never heard of a crossword puzzle emergency! I've probably texted at the table, but only rarely and briefly, and only because when someone texts me, it's usually something that needs to be dealt with immediately. I certainly don't -- nor would I -- indulge in extended text message exchanges, nor do I initiate them.

                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler


                                                        There are emergencies. If my cell phone rings, I know that it is one of two things: wrong number, or an emergency. I always look, and in most cases, let the wrong number go to voice mail. In the case of the other, I excuse myself and try to handle the emergency, as well as I can.

                                                        In wife's case, most evening calls ARE emergencies, and she handles them the same exact way - away from the table.


                                                    2. I think part of people's focus on their cellphones comes not just from addiction, but b/c the immediacy of digital input makes us unable to distinguish between what's urgent and what's important.

                                                      1. yep it's rude.
                                                        I only do it with my husband and only if it's one of the kids texting me.
                                                        which has happened maybe 2 times when we were out.

                                                        1. It is not unusual for me and SO to have our cell phones on the table during casual happy hours/dinners with friends. He's in healthcare and on call. I am often the organizer of social outings and receive many calls/texts of "where do we park" or "running late" or "not gonna make it" or even "order me this." These small messages let us know how many people are coming and whether we need to wait to order.

                                                          But when we are trying to have a real sit-down dinner, the phones go away. Of course, we can only do this when he's not on call.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: mojoeater

                                                            Right. I think there's a difference between receiving (and answering) a brief, time or occasion sensitive text (I might get one that says "how late are you going to be, should I feed the dog?"), and pulling out your phone and starting to send messages.

                                                            1. re: mojoeater

                                                              I do not envy your SO, as that is the same in our house. I hate it, when your cell vibrates at dinner, 'cause I know that she's likely to be leaving instantly, or having to spend a long time on the phone, sorting things out. Trust me, I know how cruel healthcare can be. OTOH, mankind usually benefits from the efforts of those involved. Guess that in the scheme of things, it's really a small price to pay. At least wife does leave the table instantly, when those calls come in, and I then become the sole host of the table, until she can return. Usually, the guests think that the "power room" called, and never know what she was busy doing.

                                                              I feel your pain,


                                                            2. it's unacceptable at any age. we absolutely don't allow my nieces to even have their cell phones at the table once we sit down to eat, and i find it incredibly offensive when an adult texts or accepts a call during a meal unless it's a qualified emergency. really? are you *so* important that it can't wait for a few minutes? at the very least, if you *need* to answer it, excuse yourself for a moment and walk away from the table to do it.

                                                              on more than one occasion i've had someone reach to answer a call or text during a meal with me - knowing that it WASN'T an emergency - and told them they can either put away the phone or find another dining companion. i have no tolerance for that kind of disrespect.

                                                              1. We're locking this thread.

                                                                We see a great number of threads on Not About Food that tell stories or ask questions about rude or generally unpleasant ways that people have been treated by their friends, family, restaurant staff, etc. While it can be fun or cathartic to trade stories about the worst of personal behavior, all of these threads go rapidly downhill, with some people trolling for reactions and others engaging in name calling and personal attacks.

                                                                These issues are at best tangentially related to food, are often just rants thinly disguised as questions, and rarely come to any useful conclusion, but they're generating a huge amount of ill will amongst members of the community. Given that, we're putting a moratorium on threads of this nature. We'll close the current ones if they get out of hand, and we'd ask that no one start new threads in this vein.

                                                                As we mention in http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/360953 Not About Food is really not meant to be a clearing house for everything under the sun -- it's primarily meant to be a place for us to redirect conversations that almost but don't quite fit on other boards. We're asking that everyone please think carefully before starting any threads on Not About Food, and in particular take care to avoid the type of problem threads we've outlined in this post.