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When did being rude become the norm?



Recently, through a series of unfortunate events, I got to thinking about how rude and ill-mannered folks have become.

I spent most of my life as a young adult trying to "unlearn" my Southern upbringing, but now I understand what my mother was trying to teach me: manners. While I do not pretend to be Judith "Miss Manners" Martin or the the Countess de Lesseps, I do think that society has gotten a bit out of hand lately when it comes to basic practices.

For example, lunch dates (or any date for that matter): On a recent occasion, a man whom I thought I was dating called me up and invited me to lunch. I explained to him that I was super busy and really had not planned on going to lunch. He insisted on a quick lunch, so I relented since he works nearby. He even suggested the place, which was a deli. I got there. Not only was he late, but when we got in line to order, he stepped into another line, placed his order and paid for his. I'm thinking, "You made the fuss about lunch, invited me out, picked the place and you're not paying? Wow." In case you're wondering, I had the special, which was $7.95 plus tax.

What I had and what it cost is not really relevant. What is relevant? When you invite someone out on a date, you should be prepared to pay (Chicken-heads stand up!), regardless of gender. (Chicken-heads be quiet!) Had I called and invited him to lunch, I should have the expectation of paying. It's that simple.

One of my friends recently told me that a CEO of a major company invited her to lunch to do business. She accepted, showed up, had the meeting and when the bill came, he asked for separate checks. She could not believe that a CEO of a major company would behave in this way.

While we're on the subject of dates, since many of them happen at restaurants, tipping is not an option. If I go out with one more person who tries to nickel and dime the waitperson out of a tip, I will scream! Just because someone waits tables does not mean that they are less than you. There is a reason why tips are customary. Why? Because it is a service industry, where most waiters are paid a salary that is below minimum wage -- with the expectation that they will make up the difference with tips (the same thing for car washes).

When you short great servers on tips, you cheat them out of their money. How would you feel if you worked your butt off for eight hours and your boss paid you for four because he doesn't respect you or your craft? It would be Armageddon. You should pay 15 percent gratuity for lunch and 18 percent to 20 percent for dinner. PERIOD. These are minimums, not maximums. If you cannot afford to leave a proper tip, then you should not eat out. There's a reason that casual dining places range from The Cheesecake Factory to Applebees -- it is so that you can find something in your budget. To make it real clear, if you eat $100 worth of food at dinner, be prepared to leave at least a $20 tip for good service.

My friend who waits tables at The Cheesecake Factory in Southpark stated that people are often rude, demanding and rarely tip. During CIAA, he was particularly upset because of the number of folks who pulled up in expensive whips, rocking fly clothes -- while trying to get free meals at The Cheesecake Factory. Some folks in groups would even split up when they found out gratuity was included in parties of five or more. What? Splitting up to avoid gratuity? That is utterly ridiculous. Gratuity is always included in parties of five or more, so you should always be prepared for that when dining out.

And another thing: Don't eat a whole damned meal and then send it back talking about you don't like it. You should be able to deduce from one bite (two at the most) if your meal is satisfactory. That is horribly embarrassing and the person who does that is usually the person who refuses to tip or tips very little, regardless of how good the service is or is not. You have that friend -- she puts $2 down on the table whether she's at Upstream or Denny's. Leave her ass at home the next time you go out.

That might seem harsh, but it's true. If you want to go out, then you should be prepared to follow rules that are customary. I'm sure that you get my drift. Common courtesy goes a long way. Treat people the way that you would want to be treated, know that customary practices exist for a reason and that being rude or cheap is never acceptable. Besides, eating out is a luxury and a privilege, not a right.

Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of communications and media studies at Goucher College and editorial director for

 For even more of The N Word, check out regular commentary from Nsenga Burton on our news blog The CLog.

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