We have been visiting about the joys of life in rural areas and have noted that many of them are unique. Once in a while, those good events are slightly diluted because times have changed and with those changes a few of our standards have been lowered. We also note that these changes are not limited to rural areas as they can be witnessed wherever we go.
When we were children, we were taught to behave at home and in public and were called down it we ignored our manners. Although we didn't eat in restaurants very often, we knew we had better be on our good behavior or we would be in real trouble. Actually, all we had to do was to sit up straight, eat slowly, and be careful to avoid spilling anything on ourselves, on the table, or on the floor. We were also to talk quietly and to behave just as we did at home while eating our meals.
Because we now eat out fairly often, we are more aware of what goes on around us and are often appalled by what we see and hear. We watch the servers as they try very hard to please all customers and to present the orders so the food can be appreciated at its best. They are all aware that accidents can happen and that any of us can knock over a glass of water or spill a cup of coffee. They always rush to the assistance to help to clean the area and are most gracious as they try to help us cover our embarrassment.
Nowadays, we too often watch children playing with their food, spilling it on the table, and throwing it on the floor. They are not corrected and can be seen doing the same things the next time they eat out. Some parents ignore the messes their children create and don't even offer to help clean up. As a result, the servers have to do much extra work in order to prepare the table and surrounding space for the next customers.
On rare occasions, the parents will leave a little extra tip to "reward" the servers for having to work so hard.
On one occasion, a few years ago, I was in a city and entered a fairly modest restaurant to have lunch. As I entered, I read a note on the door. "We charge an extra $5 for having to sweep the floor in your area in the event you don't wish to control your children."
I was a bit amazed to see such a sign but could certainly understand why they chose to put up such a notice. Of course, I asked the server about it and was told that few people had complained and some had even thanked the owners for reminding them of their own manners. The server also mentioned that the extra charge was rarely needed because people were more careful than they had been before the notice was posted.
Perhaps more owners might consider such a move. On the other hand, the customers just might learn to be more considerate of those around them and particularly more considerate of the servers and the extra work they cause them.
My parents would have banned me from the table at home and certainly wouldn't have turned me loose on the public had I failed to behave properly. They would have been mortified had I tossed my food on the floor and expected someone else to clean up after me. Most of us had the opportunity to learn our manners early on and were so very fortunate to have caring parents.
Lynn Moncus is a Tucumcari resident and can be contacted through the Quay County Sun by calling 575-461-1952.