Michael Bauer's exceptional Between Meals feature has provided thought-provoking fodder as of late. Why, just the other day he asked readers if iPads have a place at restaurant tables. Which they do not, but... sometimes they do. See, a few patrons at a noted Mission restaurant brought in an iPad in to watch the U.S. Open recently, much to the disgust of their server. Said server fumed to Bauer:
"I am a server at an extremely busy restaurant in San Francisco. The proliferation of technology and our lack of etiquette has reached an all-time high! This evening at work, a table had their iPad propped up in the center of the table and was watching the U.S. Open throughout the course of their meal. This seemed completely insane!"
When I hear stories like this it makes me appreciate how difficult it is to work with the public, especially when more and more diners think it’s their right to do what they want. Rules of dining etiquette are becoming even fuzzier. Next time they should leave the iPad at home, and head to a sports bar for some hot wings and nachos.
And he's right. When horrible Bay Area diners aren't taking photos of their food (stop that, please), sporting shorts and a North Face jacket (stop that too, please), or having a bowel evacuation in the bathroom (restaurant loos are for peeing and hand washing only), they're now watching epic sporting battles on their iPads. Very rude. Very self-centered. (Then again, so is worrying over the behavior of other customers, which is really none of our business. We digress.)
But. The invention of the iPad is also a blessing in disguise for patrons and parents alike. Why? Because kids love -- like, instinctively love and understand -- the iPad. They just do. Add a pair of headphones and you have the perfect quiet-child-in-restaurant scenario. Take us, for example: once a week we drag one of our godkids to a nice restaurant (because nothing turns on a financially stable, responsible, and relatively sane gay man more than seeing another gay man play daddy.) The kid gets to eat fries and watch Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs for the 47,910th time, while we inhale three cocktails and a small salad. Everyone is happy and we look adorable.
Point being: iPads are for the kids, smartphones are for the adults. In restaurants, anyway. If you don't like it, then go write a thank-you card, or renew your online subscription to the New York Times, or do whatever it is your kind do.