Dear Etiquette Gran,
I was out to dinner with a friend last night and he spent most of it on his phone, looking at Facebook, checking in and Instagramming the food. I thought it was rude to have a cellphone out at dinner but it seems de rigeur these days. Am I behind the times? – Distressed of Duntroon
Firstly, you don’t need to use words like ‘rigeur’ at me, alright. I might be old but rigor mortis hasn’t set in just yet.
I’m all for getting down with my bad self on Instagram and living it up with the kids on Pinterest. I’ll even tweet my breakfast if the All Bran and prunes are looking particularly good. And I know things have changed since we first acquired our Nokia brick phones back in 1998. I’m hip.
Cellphone usage in restaurants is becoming increasingly more acceptable, but only – IMHO – because it’s so widespread. Not because it’s OK; in fact, it’s still The Height Of Rudeness, particularly if you’re at the counter attempting to pay the bill but in reality just ignoring the service person.
A restaurant in LA recently announced it would give diners a 5 percent discount for leaving their phones in a box at the front desk for the entirety of the meal. Since implementing the policy, head chef and owner Mark Gold reckons 40 to 50 percent of customers have opted in and ditched their phones.
There are some circumstances where it’s acceptable to have your phone on the table. Take my handy quiz to find out if this is you. Are you a) a doctor capable of performing life-saving surgery? And b) on call so that you can operate on a dying patient at a second’s notice? If you answered ‘yes’ to both these questions, Etiquette Gran reckons it’s OK to have your phone on the table. If you answered ‘no’, Etiquette Gran’s going to come over to your place and roundhouse kick you in the head.
Just remember, even if you ignore Etiquette Gran’s advice completely, there’s one place you should never, ever use your phone: in the can. Just don’t.
Yours with caution,