Dear Luv Doc,
Friday night my family and my husband's friend's family went out for my husband's birthday dinner at a popular North Austin restaurant. We were seated outside, so the kids (ages 2-5) were playing (quietly) around our table to keep from being bored. One of our friend's children accidentally ran into the legs of our waiter, who yelled angrily, "Please sit down at your table." His mom apologized and made him sit down. The rest of the night the waiter ignored us completely. It took forever to get our order and then one of the orders was wrong. My husband couldn't get him to refill his water even after holding up his glass and shaking the ice to let him know it was empty. It really spoiled his mood. When we paid the bill, I left a 10% tip because the waiter was so bad, but our friends insisted on tipping extra, I am guessing out of guilt. They seemed upset at me when they left. Was I wrong? When did it become wrong to tip less when being treated rudely?
– Underserved and Undeserved
Children are such a blessing, aren't they? I mean, you know, when they aren't taking your legs out when you're trying to do your job. Then they're little agents of Satan – especially the quiet ones because you don't hear them coming. In the cacophonous din of a popular restaurant, the adorable pitter-patter of tiny toddler feet is basically inaudible, so really, as a waiter, given the choice, you would much rather have a 2-year-old that's running around screaming like a banshee at the top of its lungs. So yeah, quiet, free-range toddlers aren't exactly terrifying, but they're dangerous nonetheless – sort of like high blood pressure, which is deservedly known as the silent killer. You know what gives people high blood pressure? Dining out at restaurants – especially ones with toddlers running around.
Look, I am not saying parents who make their kids play quietly in a restaurant are completely disrespectful of their fellow diners and the restaurant staff. In fact, slow clap on almost getting that ball across the goal line. I'm sure that there are even some people who would compliment you on your dope parenting skills, but I am not one of those people. Unless you happened to be dining at a McDonald's – which are popular restaurants, I hear – and your waiter decided to take an ill-advised shortcut through the ball pit, aka "The COVID Cauldron," aka "The Hot Zone," aka "Flu Bayou," he shouldn't have run into any playing children whatsoever.
Does that seem a bit far-fetched? Overly optimistic? Fantastical? I don't know, when you're walking back to your table from the restroom at Macaroni Grill, do you expect to be steamrolled by a Great Dane in quiet, hot pursuit of a playfully tossed breadstick? Of course not. You would be completely outraged that someone would play fetch with a Great Dane in a Macaroni Grill, much less bring a Great Dane to a Macaroni Grill. (OK, I have product-placed Macaroni Grill four times already so somebody better be sending me a check.) And would it make a difference if the Great Dane were a rat terrier? Probably, but you would still be thinking, "Why is this motherfucker playing fetch with a rat terrier in this Macaroni Grill?" and you would be absolutely justified in your incredulity.
Now, I know that toddlers are slightly more adorable than rat terriers, especially when they're the fruit of your own loins, but to other people they're just the creepy little kid with the green rivulet of snot hanging from its nostril silently staring at you while you eat your linguini with clam sauce. Recognize. Either keep the kids in their seats or drop them off at some 24-hour day care. Also: When you have a table of more than six people, there is a decent likelihood someone's order might not be perfect. Prepare yourself for disappointment. You're a parent. There's so much more to come. And lastly, holy fucking shit, rattling an empty cup of ice at a waiter is just a thoroughly d-bag move, so it's not surprising in the least that your friends were mortified. That's the kind of loafers-without-socks type move that makes people rethink friendships. I wouldn't text your friends for a while. They're probably still in therapy. In the meantime, I recommend you do your bit for the economy and take a part-time job as a waitress. Apparently there's a real shortage right now due to the behavior of certain customers. Go figure.
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