When your baby isn’t the worst behaving person in the restaurant

There is always a fear of bringing by baby boy out in public. Quick trips are one thing but an extend trip requires a lot of prep work. Because of this going out for a bite to eat has all but been removed from my life. So when I planned to go to lunch with the boy and my dad I had my work cut out for me. Timing had to be perfect to catch the little guy when he wasn’t too tired but hadn’t just woken up. Also I need to pack snacks, a change of cloths, lunch, more snacks, diapers, toys, teething rings, a book and the kitchen sink, all of which are necessities in trying to keep the boy entertained for more than 5 minutes.

It’s always the hope that my son will behave. The worst would be for him to cry the entire time (which he has done) or wiggle so much that no one can eat (also happened) and get looks from everyone else in the place (whatever, like they haven’t all been there).

I have to give my son credit. He was fantastically well-behaved. He ate without making the world’s biggest mess, played with his toys and was a genuine delight. And though he wasn’t the show on this particular day there was a spectacle to be seen.

I feel the need to share this tale of amazing grace and customer service in the face of absurd selfishness and an unwinnable situation.

Just minutes before we arrived a group showed up and placed an order for their children’s entire team. I can only assume it was hockey or basketball but the total was somewhere between 25 and 35 orders, to go. Now if you planned to descend on any eating establishment with that many people you would call ahead because that is just common sense. However, because they were only a few picking up for many they didn’t feel the need to give advance notice. From what the wait staff told me the group had done this before with no real consequences.

What they didn’t plan on was a busy lunch crowd and 3 employees (a mix of kitchen and wait staff) that called out sick with the flu  that has crippled Maine.

Shortly after we placed out order and got our drinks our waitress came over to apologize for what would be a very long wait. Normally I would have been fearful of how my 11-month old could stand a long wait, but he was being very good so I didn’t mind the wait. Actually it was very nice because I don’t see my dad that often and it was good to catch up.

Despite most everyone there else there enjoying their Sunday plans the table with the large to go order was getting noticeably irritated. It seems that they didn’t plan to have to wait very long for their stuff and were missing the beginning of whatever game they had to rush off to. When a table of two who came in after, got their salads before their enormous order was ready, the angry hockey parents went up to the waitress and complained about the long wait and how all their plans were being ruined…and that it wasn’t fair.

Fair? Was it fair that everyone else in the place waited 45 minutes to an hour to be served?

Finally after over an hour of waiting all their meals came out, in boxes ready to go. Their server was incredibly sorry about the long delay but to no avail. The angered group demanded that they be comped the entire ticket and walk out with it all…free of charge. The waitress and management said that this simply was not possible and again apologized for not being faster.

Furious and causing a scene, the group said F- this, left the bill, the food, and their decency behind and walked out.

I was shocked, so were many of the other patrons. Everyone there was concerned with the treatment of the staff (who were amazing through all of this and should be commended by management) and the amount of food that was now sadly wasted.

I thought long and hard about what transpired, trying to see both sides of this ordeal. I understand how frustrating it can be when things don’t go your way. But this?

I have to plan out everything I want to do in a way that I never did before I had my son. If I want a night out, I need to plan weeks in advance, not minutes like those good old college nights. Still, my life aside, we live in a time where you don’t have plan anything. You can shop on Sundays, get gas or cash 24-7, look up directions on your phone and rent movies from your couch to be beamed into your living room in seconds. We live in the moment, with almost no need to plan.

But her’s the thing. We should plan on each other, or rather for each other   People are complicated, busy, dealing with a lot and doing the best they can. It’s great to be able to get whatever,  whenever, but there is a need to keep that sense of understanding and rationality. It’s part of what makes for strong communities and decent people. More importantly it’s how you raise decent children.

I’m upset that the wait staff had to deal with that, that everyone there worked so hard only to have wasted all that time, money and food. It’s a sad story about some inconsiderate people, who probably won’t ever know the full impact of their actions.

Ask anyone, I’m a little self-centered, OK I’m a lot self-centered. I mean, I have a blog called Manchild with a picture of my face on it for god sake. Still, this event has caused me to think about how I will want to raise my son. I hope to pass on the values of courtesy, understanding, patience and maybe a few manners. I know many others will do the same, and I thank them all here and now.


Pat Lemieux

About Pat Lemieux

Pat has it all, family, big old house, dogs, a young son and a quarter-life crisis. He blogs about trying to be who he has always been and be who he now needs to be. He enjoys 90's grunge metal, tasty local brews and the outdoors.