Omnivore - Evil customers and devil spawn

This week's Food & Drink feature is dedicated to the subject of bad customers. Even though it's been years since I worked in a restaurant, I have never quite shaken the trauma that bad customers inflicted on me and my coworkers. I felt it was time to publicly take a stand against bad customer behavior.

When I started writing, I was amazed at how much bad behavior there was to talk about. I fear I left some important villains out of the story. The most egregious omission was that of the inconsiderate diner, the one who talks on her cell phone throughout a meal, gets so drunk it's a scary job to serve her, or brings her devil spawn in and lets them terrorize the restaurant.

Speaking of devil spawn, that's a touchy one for me. Almost every waiter I spoke to about this article mentioned something about people's kids, and we've all witnessed bad behavior in restaurants by out-of-control children. One waitress I spoke to in town mentioned having to clean up dirty diapers that parents left behind, an obvious flouting of the rules of decency. But as a parent, I also hate walking into a restaurant and being treated as a pariah because I have a child with me. My child isn't perfect, but when he acts less than perfect in a restaurant I remove him immediately. One thing's for sure, by the time my kid is an independent customer in his own right, he won't be committing any of the crimes chronicled in the paper this week. I believe that kids should be brought to restaurants to help teach them what decent restaurant behavior is.

I'm interested in what other people think about this issue, as well as what you perceive to be the worst customer behavior. Next week I'll be writing about the worst habits of restaurants. If you'd like to contribute to that discussion, e-mail me at besha.rodell at creativeloafing.com.

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