I’m just a couple of months shy of age 55. I have been working in restaurants and cafes since age 16. My current evening job is at the organic, fine dining gastropub at the Hilton in Sam Francisco. I have worked here over 20 years.
I think with the laptop and cell phone usage creating instant everything, diners have become more impatient over the years. Fast food or fine food, folks want it as fast as the news. Then they can control the dining experience and the evening’s timing when the food is in front of them. Some staff call this rude, but I just think it is a shift related to the worldwide web creating everything at our fingertips. The savvy server or home host will figure out a way to create patience and a warm feeling all around despite what guests say or do. We can change the current language of what is acceptable in public or in private dinner events by just asking what we want up front. Some restaurants even have a no cell phone policy.
At home, it is okay to ask friends, kids, and family members to leave all electronics away from the table so as to not create distracted meal times. We can state clearly that we want the conversations to be more important than the photos and social media of the moment. We can truly engage with each other better. My close friend Jeannie asks the teenagers to drop their phones and keys in a basket when they come over for parties with her kids. Then for photo time, the phones can be pulled out, but safely tucked away again until they leave.
What do you think about this? What do you do when your dinner guests are always on the phone rather than engaging with you? Do you have rules for your kids regarding electronics use during meal times and family celebrations? I want to hear from you!