Don’t be this guy. First of all, don’t self-seat when the restaurant is busy and signs are clearly posted asking you to wait to be seated. Secondly, if the table you’d like still has dishes on it, politely ask a server if that table is available and I promise they’ll hurry and clear it off for you. But don’t get angry about it, especially if the server is busy. Servers are human and there is only so fast they can move. Ideally, every server would be issued a pair of winged shoes with their apron but those are usually on a really long backorder.
3. Don’t argue with your server about the listed price of menu items. Servers are not responsible for setting the menu prices and arguing with us isn’t going to affect the total cost of your bill. If you think the prices are too high, fill out a comment card or mention your views to the manager. Or eat somewhere else. But complaining to your server and demanding “what are you going to do about this?!” isn’t going to get you anywhere.
4. Don’t physically assault your server with your check. I understand that sometimes you need to pay your check in a hurry and get on with your day of work or vacation or silly bicycle riding or whatever it is you do.
But just so we’re clear, improper ways to give your check and method of payment to your server include (but are not limited to): * Shouting, “WOOHOO! WOOHOO! WOOHOO!” and waving the check presenter in your server’s face while they carry a large tray of food for another table. *Hitting your server repeatedly in the arm with the check presenter while they take another table’s order. *Taking it upon yourself to wander into the kitchen and attempt to hand your check to one of the line cooks.
If you’re in a hurry, try and flag down one of the servers or if you really have to run, take your check up front and someone will be able to assist you. In summary, the basic rule of thumb is polite asking = good and physical assault = bad. 5. Tip your server. I feel like everyone complains about this on the internet but it’s still a pretty big problem. Servers are paid less than minimum wage because the assumption is that they will be tipped to help compensate their wages. If they aren’t tipped, servers don’t make enough to do things like pay rent and buy groceries. As a general rule, tip your server 20% of your total bill. You might think they are merely carrying food between you and the kitchen but they are also: *Trying to provide you with friendly service *Taking your order (which sometimes includes several modifications for your “special” diet) *Managing your order with the kitchen (which is backed up with every other table’s order as well) *Checking on your table and keeping an eye on your drinks *Bringing your food out to your table in a timely fashion *Ensuring you’re enjoying your food and at times running back and forth to fetch more ketchup/mayo/napkins/etc. *Clearing your plates as you finish *Ensuring your bill is correct We’ve all seen the pictures circulating on the internet of receipts with notes written on them like “sorry, single mom.”
If you can’t afford to tip, don’t go out to eat. If you think the server wasn’t perky enough, consider for a moment how perky you are at your job. Does your pay get deducted because you’re having a bad day after a tow truck does a hit and run on your car? Or what about if your dog died? Or maybe someone broke into your home–should your pay lessen or do you feel entitled to having an off day because sometimes circumstances are just shitty? People who work in customer service are supposed to be cheerful all the time but for crying out loud, they’re still people who have to deal with crappy life realities. Basically, unless your server does something really heinous like telling you to go fuck yourself after calling you a fat, retarded cow, tip them 20%. By going out to a restaurant, you’re paying for the luxury of not having to cook and care for yourself for the course of the meal. You’re paying for someone to prepare food for you but you should include a tip to pay for the service of having a server attend to your needs during the course of the meal.
Personally, I think restaurants should include gratuity with each check but most places won’t do that unless you are a part of a larger party. But make sure you monetarily take care of your servers–they are usually working this job because they need to, not because they enjoy being abused by strangers for less than $5/hour.
A little while ago, there was a video circulating the internet called “I Forgot My Phone.” If you haven’t seen it, you can watch it here. If you don’t feel like watching it, it’s basically a commentary on how social media isolates us and while our lives are more accessible, social media actually disconnects us. We’re so focused on documenting our lives that we’re not actually taking the time to enjoy our experiences.
Tonight was a perfect example. My husband and I went to the store and while we picked up a few groceries, we put in an order at the deli counter for a couple sandwiches. While they were making the sandwiches, we cruised around the store and picked out our groceries the way we’ve done a dozen times before. We came back and my husband saw a couple people fill out some slips for sandwiches and maybe thirty seconds later, sandwiches were finished and the people grabbed them and went off about their shopping. We thought it was odd that ours weren’t up yet so we waited. And waited. And waited. I was about to ask the lady behind the deli counter about our sandwiches when the couple came back up to the counter and declared, “Um, these aren’t our sandwiches!” The woman behind the counter gave them a look like they were slightly stupid and held up the sandwiches she had just finished making. The couple took their sandwiches and returned the others which, it turned out, were our sandwiches.
Normally this wouldn’t be too big of a deal to me because hey, accidents happen. But the sandwiches are labeled with the customers’ names as per the order slips that they themselves filled out. “Sue” looks a little different from “Emily.” But this is kind of my point–these people filled out slips for sandwiches and then assumed that the sandwiches that came up less than a minute later had to be theirs because clearly they were the only people in the crowded deli. People have become unable to consider that someone else might receive service before them because Instagram never says, “Hang on, fourteen other people are posting pictures of that same sunset. We’ll get to yours in a minute,” when they hit the submit button.
We’re becoming ruder as a people because we feel this sense of entitlement that not only are we the center of the universe but everyone around us should be catering to our every need the way our computer does. Facebook wants to know what’s on our minds or how we’re feeling and we get so used to that mentality that it seems inconceivable that everyone else doesn’t care about us like social media does. We spend all this time staring at our belly buttons that we fail to notice that other people exist around us.
Which leads to . . .
3. We don’t have any perspective.
It’s easy to become consumed by Facebook drama. He said this, she didn’t like my post, they didn’t reply to my message, blah blah blah. This is why websites like White Whine exist. In other parts of the world, it’s a big deal if you didn’t get eaten by a lion today.
In the grand scheme of our lives, none of the petty bullshit is going to matter, not even if some oblivious lady steals your sandwich at the deli counter.
So what am I saying? Is social media evil and we should all burn our computers? Absolutely not (and besides, computers are expensive and there’s only so much a warranty will cover). In fact, I think social media has its merits. I think it’s fantastic that I’m able to stay in touch with so many friends and members of my family and a lot of positivity spread through social medias.
What I’m saying that we need to be aware of how much we control we give social medias. We should use them without letting them consume us. There’s nothing wrong with staying in touch or using the internet for fun but we need to remember how to unplug. We need to go outside or have a conversation or eat a meal without feeling the need to document every little moment. Instead of viewing our experiences through a camera lens, we need to view them with our eyes and learn how to be present and actually make memories instead of pictures.
Social medias won’t wither away and die if we limit our exposure. If we leave our phones at home every once in a while, it’s okay. They’ll be there when we get back. And by then, maybe we’ll have friends who have decided to help us unlock the next soul-sucking episode of Candy Crush Saga.
On the occasion that I venture out in public, I enjoy going to the movies.
Let me rephrase that: I usually enjoy going to the movies. Most of the time, I and all the other movie patrons are there to enjoy a film of our choosing. We select our seats, we munch on tasty popcorn with cancer-causing fake butter, and we watch the movie. We might laugh at the appropriate moment, shed a tear during an emotional scene, or gasp during a shocking or frightening moment. Generally, we behave like civilized adults co-existing in a public space.
And then there are the other people.
If you’ve ever gone to a movie theater, you know who these people are. They are the inconsiderate jackasses whose sole mission in life appears to be ruining other people’s enjoyment while being simultaneously oblivious that they are, in fact, not in their own living room. There are many incidents of people ruining the moving going experience but I have condensed them into six of the most obnoxious types of movie theater patrons.
1. The Afraid to Be Alone Guy
I like to go to the movies during the day, usually at one of the first showings because the older I get, the less I like people and there seem to be fewer of them at the early showings. On more than one occasion, I’ve been the first to arrive at a movie and I have the whole theater to myself. Although I only require one seat (two if I’m with my husband), the sight of an empty theater makes me want to prance up and down the rows simply because I can.
|Pretty much exactly like this.|
Then, just before the feature presentation starts, a lone patron will walk into the theater. Obviously there’s more than enough room for both of us, right?
This guy insists on sitting either directly next to me or behind me. It’s like he couldn’t find a friend with whom to go to the movies and has an intense desire to make a new one. Either that, or he doesn’t understand personal boundaries.
2. 20 Questions
Anyone who insists on talking during a movie is obnoxious (and I’ll get to them in a minute) but a special breed of annoying comes in the form of that person in the theater who insists on asking 800 questions about everything happening on screen.
“Who is that guy?”
“Why is he doing that?”
“What did he say?”
“Where are they going?”
|These people make me irrationally angry.|
I’m not upset because they find something confusing. I’m upset because if they would shut their freaking mouths, their questions would, in nearly all cases, be answered by simply watching the movie. Which, I understand, might be a confusing concept for people who are at a theater. To watch a movie.
3. Constant Commentary
The larger, parent category for the 20 Questions guy is the person who insists on giving a play by play commentary on the entire movie. This type of jackass happened to my husband and me not too long ago when we went to go see This Is the End. We had the misfortune of sitting in front of a guy who, to put it simply, would not shut the fuck up.
It all started during the previews. After each preview, he loudly announced whether or not he wanted to see it to his girlfriend (who, as a side note, looked like she was sticky. I have no idea if she was, in fact, sticky, but she was the sort of person who just made you want to wash your hands). I figured that was annoying but maybe he’d stop when the movie started.
I was very, very wrong.
He continued to talk and give a play by play of the movie for the entire freaking time. The only relief we got from the commentary was when he got up to go to the bathroom every twenty minutes (kicking my seat as he went, by the way). One of his bathroom visits happened to coincide with when my husband went as well. Husband told me later that apparently the guy was a middle-aged dude who was coked out of his mind. He’d wanted to say something to him like, “Hey, maybe try shutting the hell up in the movie,” but he thought the better of it for his safety (and really, good call, Husband). We probably should have just gotten the manager of the theater involved since we were so annoyed but when it comes down to it, I don’t like to create problems for the staff. And with a tweaked out movie commentator, getting him kicked out might have actually caused more of a disturbance than his commentary was.
|Plus I’m much braver behind my computer.|
We managed to enjoy the rest of the movie despite the commentary. The ending of the movie was hilarious and we, along with everyone else, laughed at the hilarity on film. The kicker, of course, was that when the movie ended, the loud guy’s sticky-looking girlfriend glared at us and said, “God, some people are so noisy and laugh too much in movies.”
4. Date Night: Teen Edition
We’ve all seen these couples on Friday and Saturday nights at the movies. They’re adorable. Awkward, bumbling, and nine times out of ten one of them will spill popcorn on the other. They’re so sweet they’ll give you diabetes if you watch them for too long.
|This is basically them in gif form.|
Then the movie starts and they are quickly divided into two categories. The first category includes the couples that sit there quietly and watch the movie while pretending to be unaware that they are holding hands. These couples are fine because they’re too scared to say or do anything other than watch the movie.
Then there’s the other category of teen couples. These are the ones who see the dimming of the theater lights as their cue to start a full fledged make out session. Complete with moaning.
|If I can hear you over a Michael Bay movie then
(1) you’re faking and (2) you need to take it out to the backseat of your date’s mom’s car.
Kids like that make me want to carry a spray bottle in my purse.
5. Babies at Midnight Showings
Let me be clear that I am not upset with the babies themselves. They are obviously not in control of the situation and if you’re two months old and know nothing of the world, violent explosions in The Dark Knight are likely going to scare you and make you cry.
|As awesome as he was, Heath Ledger may have made me pee my pants.
Just a little.
My issue is instead with the adults who bring these tiny people to midnight showings (the same applies to small children in inappropriate movies). Yes, I think that parents should be able to still go out and enjoy movies that don’t involve cartoon characters. But I think those movies are better enjoyed with the children at home with a babysitter.
I know that parents can sometimes have a difficult time finding babysitters they trust, affording them, etc. I get that. But when I go to the midnight showing of a movie and see not one, not two, but THREE adults with a baby, I’m thinking that maybe one of them could have taken one for the team and stayed home instead of lugging around a poor infant who needs their rest to a very long, very loud movie.
|Seriously, the Joker blows up a lot of shit.|
So what to do about the annoying movie theater patrons? You could change seats, tell your friend to stop asking so many questions, get the manager to deal with a loud guest, tell the teens to keep it in their pants, and ignore the baby while silently hating all of the adults who are ignoring the crying baby.
Or you could always silently stew while eating your overpriced popcorn, try to watch the movie, and complain about it on the internet later. It’s your call.
Finding time to write can be a real bitch sometimes. I work full-time (and we’re getting into the busy season at my job), I have a husband whom I like to spend time with, friends whom I’d like to see, family who would like me to check in so they know I’m not dead, and dogs that require playtime and cuddles.
“Please love me.”
Somewhere in everything I have to do, I also have to try and find time to write. It’s not easy–there are only so many hours in the day and my body eventually demands food and sleep (ugh, needy body). I’ve dozed off at my computer more times than I can count because I try and push myself to write for just a little longer and then I wake up to find I have typed seventeen pages of “ggggggggggggggggg.”
This is me about 90% of the time.
While I’m obviously talking about writing because that’s what I want to do with my life, I feel like this is applicable to anyone with a passion project. Artists, photographers, filmmakers, people with dreams of owning their own businesses–I feel like so many of us are in the same boat. We know what we want to do but we get caught up in the minutiae of day-to-day obligations. And that’s not to downplay our everyday obligations–I know I like having somewhere to live and food in our fridge (even if I forget to eat it).
Oh, right . . . food.
A piece of advice that seems to appear rather frequently for writers is to draw from their experience. I think this is great advice because if you pull from what you know, your writing will be more authentic and subsequently more intriguing to your audience. This isn’t to say that if you’ve never been a fighter pilot you can’t writer about fighter pilots, but it does require you to do a lot of research so that you have something to say about fighter pilots other than that you once watched Top Gun with your college roommate.
HIIIIIGHWAAAAY TO THE
But when you draw from your experiences, at what point do you go from using what you know to plagiarizing your own life? When I was in grad school, I had multiple workshops with a guy who shared stories that drew from his life. “Drew from his life” is probably too light of phrasing to express what it is I’m conveying here. According to his family, he had a tendency to write down exactly what happened and call it fiction after changing the names.
“It couldn’t possibly be you, Mom! Look, her name is ‘Shmom.’
How much is too much when it comes to drawing from your life? Situations similar to what you’ve experienced? Characters based on people you know? Exact word-for-word conversations?
The last one might sound a little ridiculous. “What do you mean exact conversations? No one remembers those!” Trust me, this is a thing and if you’ve read some of my previous articles, I’ve mentioned this before. I’ve known people who, during a normal social interaction, have stopped the conversation to ask either myself or others to repeat what we just said as they scribbled it down in their moleskine notebooks and said, “That’s a great line! I’m gonna use that in a story later!”
But really, do we even own the rights to what we say in casual conversation? My previous article, “Eavesdropping on Strangers for Fun and Profit” would suggest we don’t. But is it even fiction anymore if you take a real situation and slap some fake names on it?
I don’t really have an answer. If you take a true story and change some details, I suppose that could fall into the realm of fiction. It could also fall into the realm of “creative nonfiction,” such as was the case with James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces. A lot of people (namely Oprah) got upset that he was peddling a “made-up story” as nonfiction but creative nonfiction bridges that gap which is where a lot of these true fiction stories should probably rest.
I Googled “angry Oprah” and came up with this picture and one of Rihanna crying.
I’m not totally sure where to go from here but I do know that
I am now afraid for that sad-eyed puppy and Rihanna.
How often do we tell stories to people but the small details change over time due to forgetfulness or blank spaces where our minds or other people fill in the gaps? Does that make us all embarrassing liars that should publicly apologize to Oprah and housewives across America? Probably not. But at the same time, that also seems like a much lesser offense than writing down every word people say and calling it original fiction.
I’ve decided to declare, once and for all, what is the acceptable way to plagiarize your life. To all the writers out there, you’re welcome.
Advice ain’t free.
I accept cash and all major credit cards except Discover because fuck you, that’s why.
OKAY: Drawing from your experiences and creatively re-telling a story from your life.
NOT OKAY: Being that jackass at a party who is too busy copying down the words you hear to have a real conversation.
As writers, we’re told to write constantly and we should. But we also need to find that balance and to know when to put down the pen and do something other than spend time with your own thoughts. Going out and experiencing things will ultimately make you a better writer and even if you don’t get a good story out of it, it’ll make you a more interesting person to be around so you can be this guy:
Not this guy:
You can read more at The Next Great American Writer
Written by: Emily Regan