Saturday, May 23, 2009

White Linens and Apes

Because there is simply no end to restaurant sagas, I share with you another installment.

Hubby and me were recently away on a mini-vacation and ended it with a lovely breakfast at a fancy hotel. The hotel was on a sprawling country estate and the dining room was a fancy-shmancy affair with white linen draped tablecloths, fine china and panoramic views of the countryside. (This is an actual photo of the dining room). The place just oozed old school sophistication - not a place any reasonable person would think to bring small children. However, because a major amusement park is located nearby, many hairbrained parents felt it was perfectly acceptable to take their children here for breakfast, instead of to the far more suitable local Denny's.

Upon arriving, the hostess escorted us to a table smack-dab between 2 young families, one of which had a toddler who was in the process of having a full-blown hissy fit; the other table with 3 young children who were climbing on the chairs like out-of-control apes. Realizing that this was going to make for a very unpleasant experience, I asked the hostess if she could please seat us away from the tables with small children. Well, you should have seen the look she gave me. It was a look of total incomprehension, as though I had asked her to board us onto a rocket ship in the center of the dining room and launch us into outer space. It took her about 10 seconds of looking at me blankly before she was able to comprehend my request, at which time she launched into a full-blown explanation of their seating procedures and how, in order to be fair to all the waitresses, they must seat their customers in certain sections, in the order in which the customers arrive.

I told her that is all well and good, but repeated our preference of not being seated near families with small children. I pointed to an empty table across the room that was a good distance away from the kinder-calamities and asked her if we could be seated there. After some more hemming and hawing, a consultation with the dining room manager, and making it obvious to us that we were really putting her out, she finally agreed to seat us there.

Of course it was only a matter of time before more families came into the dining room, filling the formerly-quiet tables around us. At one point during our meal, I looked around the dining room at the goings-on. One family had a child who was talking and singing at the TOP OF HER LUNGS. Not once did either parent instruct her to quiet down. She just kept on talking and singing to the annoyance of everyone except her parents.

At another nearby table with slightly older children, we watched as 2 of the children ran around their table playing tag while the oblivious parents ate their breakfast, never once even looking up from their plates to so much as visually acknowledge their ill behavior. Their third child, a boy who looked to be about 10 years old, had apparently gotten bored at the table, so he proceeded to perch himself upon one of the dining room's windowsills and played with his shoelaces, again, all within the sight of the parents and dining room staff and all without a single disciplinary comment from any of them.

Hubby and me just shook our heads and like two old farts, reminisced about our own upbringings and how in our day we would have never DREAMED of exhibiting such behavior because our parents would have immediately put a stop to it. We were well aware that there were certain behaviors that went along with dining out in restaurants and singing, playing tag and climbing on chairs and windowsills like monkeys was not among them.

This stuff may seem minor, but it truly makes us fear for our future. What is our world going to be like when the coddled products of these lazy, inconsiderate, oblivious and overly-permissive parents are running the world? The thought of this truly sends shivers of fear down our spines.


Mark C said...

Want a suggestion?

Flip video camera.

Record the antics and post it to YouTube. Use great tags including the restaurant name, city and state.

Then post it to your blog.

firefly said...

I can't tell you how many times I've said something similar (if I'd done that as a child, my parents would have stopped it immediately) living in a dead-end neighborhood where half the houses have children. We used to have a pair of little girls (around 10 years) who would run up and down the street screaming to see who could be the loudest.

No one would pay any attention to them if something actually happened.

Fortunately for us, both their families moved away within about 6 months of each other.

In your place I would have been much more angry at the hostess. Who's paying for the meal, you or the waitresses? What happened to The Customer is King? If you ask for a quiet table, you should get one -- just like nonsmokers used to be seated away from smokers.

Noise pollution is harmful to your health just as air pollution is.

Steph said...

My mother has two children still at home. I am amazed at differently they are raised than my sister and I were. I would have thought the generation gap between us would have been less noticeable being raised by the same mother and all, but no. They are monsters. I cannot even go out to eat with them because I spend the whole time scolding and being mortified.

I never tire of the restaurant stories. On Friday night my DH and I went out to a really busy bar and there were about 40 people standing around looking for seats. Who was taking up all the seats? people with babies. At a bar! A rowdy, meat market-y bar at that. They were definitely not residents of the neighborhood either. What kind of people think its a good idea to drive to the city and go out drinking with a baby?

charlie said...

Jesus Christ >.<

Yes, back in "my day" (I was born in '81) my brother and I never acted like this in restaurants or anywhere really. We knew better... because we knew it wasn't acceptable behavior and there was always a spanking and other punishments around the corner.

Anonymous said...

That place is gorgeous! I can't believe that they even let children in there. China and white linen?!

Christine said...

I absolutely HATE going out for breakfast now. It wasn't enough to avoid cheap places like Denny's and IHop, I've also noticed the Invasion of the Loud Families at nicer places, as well.

Once hubby and I were staying at this hotel, which has a very nice, white table-clothed dining room. They have an all you can eat breakfast buffet, which happened to come with the package we bought.

So we went downstairs for breakfast, the place is loaded with families. Fortunately, it's a seat-yourself deal, so we were able to sit as far away from the families as possible.

But then this other family came in, and plopped themselves right next to us. A mother, father, a girl of about three, and an infant.

Anyhoo, the parents took turns getting food for themselves and the older kid. The older kid did not like what was brought for her, and screamed loudly about it, The father must have gotten up ten times to get her something else...eggs, pancakes, different types of cereals and fruits. But none of it was to her liking. The pile of uneaten food on that table was growing, there was barely a place to put much else. And it was the father who kept getting up, as the mother was holding the baby.

Hubby and I sat there in shock, watching these proceedings. We both grew up poor, and as such, were never allowed to waste food. It was always, "eat what is put in front of you, or starve!" That's the way it should be.

They left before we did, and did they make any effort to clean up the mess they made? If you guessed NO, you win a cookie.

I will never eat breakfast out anywhere again, no matter where it is, it sucks. We do stay at this particular hotel a few times a year, but if we want breakfast, we just go down, pile up a couple of trays, and enjoy it in the peace of our room.

Anonymous said...

I used to work at a restaurant. One day, I was told to go out and clean the tables. I came upon this table that was loaded with crud and bits of food; the chairs and the floor around the table were also a complete mess. As I started scrubbing away at the congealed food, a woman with a little brat came up to me and said, "Oh, look, we left you a little mess, tee hee!" as if it were just freaking hilarious, and walked out the door. Bitch was lucky I didn't have a firearm on me at the time!

Gumby said...

I have had this conversation SO MANY times with my friend and my husband!

I don't think I EVER came even CLOSE to that kind of behavior when I was a kid because I knew I would get thrown in the car so fast!

Really all I ever needed was "the voice" and "the look" from my dad and that was it. People would comment on how well behaved I was (and later my sister) because that kind of shit was NOT TOLERATED.

If/when I encounter these situations, I tend to be the bitch that talks LOUDLY about how horribly behaved the kids are and the parents are useless and my parents would NEVER have allowed that kind of behavior from me.
I think I do that in hopes that they will be so embarassed that they'll leave - but then a person has to be reasonable in the first place to be embarassed by that...

djmist said...

The great thing about the internet is that your personal reviews have the potential to reach a broad audience. I, for example, consult user reviews for any purchase over $100 including hotels and restaurants. You should definitely post the name of the hotel and restaurant so that other childfree couples (or parents enjoying some childfree time) can know what to expect or make alternative plans.
One great thing about child-freedom is the ability to enjoy more time engaged in personal passions. For my wife and I that means travel. If I were travelling to the area this hotel is located, I would certainly want to know about it… so I could avoid it!

Lynn said...

I know this place well. Milton is rolling over in his sad and he loved children!

Erin said...

I recognized the photo you posted -- I live 20 minutes from that restaurant and have been there a few times. It's pricey and what I would consider a 'special occasion' kind of place. The property is gorgeous and, in fact, I'll be there next month for a wedding. I digress.

I've been there for Sunday brunch and dinner and have encountered kids each time. It's definitely not what I would consider a family restaurant, what with the price tag ($40 each for brunch + tax & tip) and the fact that jackets are required (although it seems they often look the other way). What's annoying is that there is a more casual restaurant in the same hotel that would be more accommodating for families. You'd think they could incorporate a policy of 'no children under the age of 13' in the formal dining room as it's evident to all of us that kids manage to ruin the evening for everyone except their own parents.