I was recently sitting in a restaurant in the Castro where bar seating is available for dinner, and I watched as a man walked in, ordered an entree, asked advice on wine, and whipped out his laptop to get down to work. This was about 8 p.m. on a Thursday, and the guy appeared fresh from the office, perhaps by way of Muni, tech shuttle, or Caltrain, with no shame about doing his business while others were trying to enjoy dinner in close proximity. This conduct, I fear, is a result of the fact that there has not been enough public shaming around this very important issue. Allow me.

Now, I hesitate to single you out here if you know you're guilty of this, seeing as we live in such a tech-fueled, tech-positive, laissez-faire city. But this is something that really needs to stop in the name of all that is decent, and really for all of our sakes. Let us try, for a moment, at dinner, in public, to eat in a manner that's respectful of our neighbors and ourselves.
We all have to get work done, friends, and sure, many of us are saddled with jobs that do not go quiet when the sun goes down and we physically leave the office. But greater San Francisco is not your corporate cafeteria. Zuni Cafe is not your conference room, and neither is Delfina, Octavia, nor Michael Mina.

Setting aside the visual nuisance of the LED glow of a screen (polluting a thoughtfully designed lighting scheme, no less) why, in the name of all that's holy, can't your slide deck or spreadsheet or email wait until morning, or at least until after you've enjoyed a bite to eat, giving that bite the attention it might deserve rather than scarfing it down like it might as well be a hot pocket or instant ramen or Soylent while you're typing away and chewing mindlessly.

Exceptions may maybe be made in some downtown restaurants when it's lunchtime, because business lunches must exist, and oftentimes they require these visual aids — also, the etiquette around lunch is looser, because: lunch.

But good lord. Setting up shop in a restaurant with your fingers tapping on the keyboard and the aforementioned visual pollution, distracting people from having a refined dining experience with civilized conversation and perhaps some wines... well that's just crass, and if the restaurant's management is too generous and/or in need of your revenue to say so, I will do it for them. Put. The. Effing. Laptop. Away. A large tablet is not really any better — and nor, really, should your cellphone be ever-present at a polite dinner, but if you're among friends and things need to be looked up or urgently responded to, I understand, it's 2017, go with god.

San Francisco is hardly alone in this epidemic of laptops invading the dining room. About a year ago, I was feeling superior about our fair city when, on a trip to Portland, I watched a man walk into an upscale bar/restaurant, sit at a high table in the bar by himself, order up dinner and a glass of wine, and proceed to put on noise-canceling headphones and watch a movie on his laptop, in the middle of a busy Friday night crowd. Let's afford him a one-time pity pass — perhaps he's not quite right — but honestly, if you need to watch a movie with dinner, allow me to suggest takeout or delivery. Similarly, I've seen a man sitting in a restaurant in New Orleans, in the midst of carnival season in the French Quarter, happily responding to emails on a laptop, while waiting for his meal. Clearly he too has his priorities all wrong.

I encourage you, especially all you outspoken types with no qualms about talking to strangers, to call attention to this social atrocity the next time you witness it. Ask the woman or gentleman, "Do you really think this is an appropriate place or time to be using your computer sir/ma'am? We're trying to eat and enjoy life over here."

This ends today's public service op-ed.

Related: Etiquette Week: How To Use Your Smartphone In Public