Cell Phones in Restaurants: Yah or Nay?

Cell phones. We all have ’em and we all love em. Personally, I use mine so often that I am just waiting for the day that it can be implanted directly into the side of my head and I will be able to control it with my thoughts. If what they say is true about cancer and cell phones, I may as well go ahead and get in line for my double heaping helping of brain cancer right now. Yes, brain cancer would suck but when you compare it to to the hours and hours of entertainment I get from Words With Friends and Angry Birds, it might be a fair trade off. Suffice it to say I am one of those people who never goes anywhere without his cell phone which brings me to the point of this blog post: cell phones in restaurants.

Nowadays, when customers go to a restaurant, as soon as they sit down they pull out their cell phone and place it on the table. I don’t blame them. In the span of forty-five minutes they might need to immediately update their Facebook status, send a picture to Twitter or go to Yelp to write a review. I’m right there with them. However, I need them to have some awareness regarding their phone:

  • Please do not put it where it is going to be in the way when I need to set down your steaming hot plate of fussilli pasta. I will not be happy if I get first degree burns on my forearms because you are too slow to move your cell phone out of the way. Move your fucking phone.
  • Do not leave it where it is going to get dripped on every time I fill your water glass. The metal pitcher I use has condensation on it and when I reach across the table there is a good chance that a drop or two of water will fall from it and it will aim directly for the screen of your new iPhone. Move your fucking phone.
  • Do not ask me to adjust the lighting in the restaurant so that the photo you are taking of your fennel crusted salmon will look better. No one cares what you are having for dinner and they aren’t going to comment about it once you send the picture to Facebook. The only photos that people want to see are the ones of your children in Halloween costumes, your high school yearbook photos and pictures of yourself drunk on the 7 train. Just kidding. No one wants to see those either.
  • Do not get irritated with me when I am trying to take your order at the same time you are making a call to your Fat Aunt Fanny to see how her hip replacement went. A few days ago, I ventured too near the table of a woman who was on her phone. She shooed me away as if I was some errant fly getting too close to her tail. She acted like I was trying to hear her conversation when really all I was trying to do was see if she wanted dessert or not. She waved her hand in a dismissive manner that quite frankly I found to be extremely rude. My feelings were hurt and I had to go to the bathroom to cry for a few minutes and then wash my face before I could go back to her table. Not really. I was like, “Fuck you bitch, I don’t care if your ass gets dessert or not. Here’s your fucking check and I am done with you.”
  • If you need to charge your phone and ask your waiter where an electrical outlet is, do not get pissed off if there isn’t one for you to use. A restaurant is not a charging station. If there is a plug nearby, sure go ahead and charge your phone, but I am not going to unplug the coffee pot in the side stand and then “keep an eye” on your phone just so you can have enough battery power to Skype with your boyfriend later. Your dying phone battery is so not my problem. On my list of priorities, it falls below clean ketchup bottle lids and enough to-go containers. That’s really really low. Like right night next to checking the toilets to make sure they are clean.

So there you have it. Those are just a few of my thoughts on cell phones. Yes, I am addicted to mine and have to cut this short because I have not checked my news feed in almost half an hour and I need to know what I have missed. When I go to a restaurant, I always put my phone on silent and keep it out of the way of the server. It’s what everyone should do.

By the way, the lady on her phone who shooed me away did ask me about dessert. I told her that was what I was trying to discuss with her when she motioned me to get away from her. She snorted out an apology and ordered a creme brulee and then she got on her phone and told someone how delicious it was.

What are your thoughts about cell phones in restaurants? And feel free to share the hell out of this.

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32 thoughts on “Cell Phones in Restaurants: Yah or Nay?

  1. Mark W.

    I absolutely refuse to say a word to any customer who is on their phone. I don't care what my job is, I will not interrupt them. I'll look at them, fold my arms, make eye contact, smile, and wait, but I will not approach them. If they dare complain, I simply say "Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't want to interrupt you call. I figured you'd let me know when you were ready."

  2. Chunky Mama

    People who talk on the phone in restaurants bug the shit out of me. I always silence the ringer, and unless I'm worried that a family member is calling due to an emergency, I will not answer it. It's horribly rude to the server, the other customers, and especially the person you are dining with.But I have no problem texting, tweeting, or uploading pictures of my food to Facebook while my spouse or whomever stares at me.

  3. crazycaca

    Out and out ignorant! No one is so important that they can not eat a meal without being in contact with the outside world…Unless it's a matter of National Security….turn it off!

  4. Anonymous

    OH BLOODLY HELL NO!!! I find it extremely rude for a customer to be on a cell phone. I dont have time to wait for them to finish their damn conversation to take their food or drink order. I do have other tables that need my attention and are much more polite and courteous. And here a topic for ya….When do adults loose there manners????? I want and I need crap, how about please, thank you, and your welcome?????????

  5. Some Sort of Fairy

    Big, big pet peeve. In fact, it was probably my #1 food service pet peeve because I worked a register at a place where we were expected to get everyone in line, served, and at their tables/out the door in five minutes.People have a lot of nerve waiting in a long line, yakking on their phones the whole time, reaching the register, and THEN looking at the menu to decide what they want. Or, worse yet, barking an order at me and continuing their conversation, only to roll their eyes when asked required follow-up questions. But I wouldn't blame cell phones on this lack of common courtesy – people do this when they're with friends, too. Inconsiderate people are inconsiderate with or without cell phones.

  6. Anonymous

    It's rude! I won't even acknowledge a guest who is on the phone. Spending 20 minutes on the phone before ordering screws with my turnover, especially if there is a wait. Ask to be seated when you are ready to dine. Handle your business outside of my station.

  7. Anonymous

    I have one story that really annoyed me with this topic:I was out with a large group and one person only had a card. For 10 minutes she whined that we hadn't got the bill yet (without actually going and seeking it) and that she needed to go soon and needed to pay (without seeking out a waitress – I'd already added up her portion and told her what it was pre-tip). Then we got the bill. We had one other card (the cardholder had taken the cash from the rest of the group and her. In the 10 minutes we were dealing with this and had the waitresses attention… she was blabbing on her phone and wouldn't put it down.

  8. California Girl

    I'll come back to read the post later. But if the question is for other customers, I say "Nay". I cannot stand to listen to other people's conversations when I'm trying to enjoy a meal. It's bad enough if they're loud and obnoxious talkers, let alone having a phone conv at the table. And yes, I've spoken to quite a few about it. My husband hates it when I do that.

  9. Mary A.

    Cell phone conversations do not belong in a restaurant, in the bathroom, in church, at the movies or in class. They are OK at the grocery store, OUTSIDE of a restaurant (fast food or otherwise), at the mall, at the dry cleaner and at work. Unless you work in a restaurant. Then get the fuck off the phone and take my my order. I want a number 2. Supersized.

  10. Corina

    IT is definitely in bad taste to hang on your cellie. Guess what, you really AREN'T ALL THAT IMPORTANT! IT CAN FUCKING WAIT! It pisses me off when they are on the phone, I don't speak to them, and then they go bitch I didn't speak to them. They woulda bitched if I had asked, so damned if I do, damned if I don't!

  11. FunkyChicken

    I had a chick "shoo" me off on a slammed day. Since there were 2 menus on the table and she was clearly waiting for someone, i chose to completely ignore her until the other person arrived. Eventually her guest bailed and she grabbed a busboy. My response to him was "I know she's f'ing ready to order, and since she was too busy with her f'in cell phone when I came to her earlier, she can f'in wait while I take care of my other 8 f'ing tables" (i like the f word behind scenes when i'm busy and people are being rude. It's my coping mechanism that allows me to smile brightly and cheerfully say "Hi! How are you today?!?!?" out on the floor). I'm of the personal opinion that you just shouldn't receive service until you put your phone down, but restaurant owners disagree.

  12. I am not a grammar Nazi

    Hello, Mr. Bitchy. You might remember me from a certain comment you responded to about a year ago (http://thebitchywaiter.blogspot.com/2010/10/comment-on-comments.html). You advised me to read something written by people with greater respect for the English language than bloggers. I agreed and stopped reading your site until I happened to return to it today to find your blog in just as sorry a state as I left it. Yet I thought I would give this one last go before retiring for at least another year. This post had a number of problems. Ignoring the sentence fragment that begins your post since I will assume it was an intentional rhetorical decision, your second sentence has a glaring inconsistency. Is it 'em or just em? Convention dictates that 'em is a colloquial contraction of the word "them" and thus requires an apostrophe. This error would not have been quite so glaring had you been consistent with your usage, especially since only four words separate the two instances. But the one mistake (at least I hope it was a mistake) that I find most distracting is contained in this sentence: "Suffice it to say I am one of those people who never goes anywhere without his cell phone…." Well, I will applaud you for the correct usage of the word "who" as many others would have used "that." But unfortunately for you and your readers, your verb is not correctly conjugated. You should have written "go" instead of "goes". Since conjugation in English is minimal, it is understandable that this mistake is prevalent. Let me explain why the extra two letters matter. "Go" is the plural form of the verb, used when the antecedent is plural. They go. We go. You all go. The undead cheerleaders go. "Goes" is singular, used for singular antecedents. He goes. It goes. Mary goes. The purple hippie bus goes. Notice how the pronouns "I" and "you" are exceptions to this rule. Looking at your sentence, we find that the antecedent is "those people," which is obviously plural. Hence, "go" should have been used instead. Your mistake was likely brought about by the tangle of possible antecedents in your wordage. Careful writing will help to reduce the number of subject-verb agreement errors like this. And briefly, there are a few other things I would have done differently in your shoes. "Forty-five minutes" may as well have been "45 minutes" since 45 is a quantity greater than twenty. I think "double heaping helping" should be "double-heaping helping" with a hyphen. And since you usually use an international alphabet you might as well be consistent and say "crème brûlée". I also think that "Like right night next" was a typo that included an unintended word. Proof you writing, sir!I don't do this for the pride or the fame, but because I think that you would be interested to know how sub-par your work is to anything that will actually end up on CBS Sunday Morning. If, however, you clean up you language a bit and make it more presentable, you might just rise above the rank of "blogger" that you so easily scoffed at before.

    1. Jenn

      Dear I am not a grammar Nazi:

      It’s a good thing that you are NOT, because I see these glaring, yes GLARING, sir, errors in your post.

      “Proof you writing, sir!I don’t do this for the pride or the fame, but because I think that you would be interested to know how sub-par your work is to anything that will actually end up on CBS Sunday Morning.”

      Let me fix this for you, please. “Proof YOUR writing, sir! SPACE I don’t do this …”

      Thank you and good night.

  13. Anonymous

    Im with you Bitchy! I keep mine close but outta the way. BTW, I shared your blog with my great server, Brandon at Rio Ciy Cafe in Sacramento, CA. today. No, That was not my tip. He was well worth the 25%!

  14. Anonymous

    I am a server who HATES approaching tables who are on the cell phone. I will come to the table to greet them, lay down coasters, and straws, but if you do NOT notice Im standing right next to you smiling.. I WILL walk away. And when you complain you have been sitting there "FOREVER" with nothing to drink or are ready to order, I am MORE than HAPPY to explain that I did NOT want to interrupt your phone call because it OBVIOUSLY seemed important to you. Anyone who has done that, please be aware that your server has more than just you to wait on, so if you MUST be on the phone during your meal, PLEASE PLEASE put it down for 3 SECONDS to place your drink and/or food order and then you can pick it right back up again!

  15. S'A

    To Mary A.– I have to beg to differ–it's not okay in a store, either. If you need to call home because you don't remember if you were supposed to get chedder cheese or coldy, fine. But the other customers don't want to hear your conversation, and it's extremely rude to the cashier to be on your phone at the register.

  16. stream27

    I support them to an extent. If you're having a meal and need to catch up on emails or something, cool. But having loud business conversations while a) someone is trying to take your order and b) while there are other people around you trying to enjoy their meal is rude. Tell the person you'll call them back or, if it's important, step outside. I work in retail and trying to check someone out who is on their phone is right up there with people who ask me to price check every item of their damn order. It's annoying and unnecessary. I think you can wait 2 minutes to make a phone call.

  17. LS

    A lot of people want to blame technology for people's social retardedness.I just blame them for being social retards in the first place.

  18. Noelle

    I agree with Mary A. and would also like to add convenience stores. Because around here the folks behind the counter chat and gossip to much. My friend even fakes a call. (extreme)

  19. Heather

    I used to be a cashier at a deli style restuarant, and when people came through my line on their phone, I just made it a point to be super loud. "HOW ARE YOU DOING TODAY? THAT WILL BE TWENTY DOLLARS. HERE IS YOUR CHANGE. HAVE A GOOD EVENING." I got a lot of glares, but I got the point across while still doing my job and being "friendly."

  20. Reds

    I don't really mind when someone is on the phone at a table unless they are obnoxiously loud, but I WILL wait until they are no longer occupied by the call to take their order/check up on them etc. I will swing by and try to make eye contact and if they want to order something than fine. If not, I'll be back when they're done. However if I get flagged down (during or after the phone call) like they have been waiting forever, I will tell them exactly what's up.I am way more annoyed by the people who just have it sitting in the middle of the table. Especially when you're sitting with 4 people at a small high-top and I'm delivering beers to you. Our glasses are frosty and some WILL drip off as I reach next to you and place it down on the table. I have asked people to move their phones before, and I have also dripped beer on people's phones before. I don't apologize. There's only so much room on the table.

  21. watergirl

    I set mine to vibrate and place it to the side. It's always been a peeve of mine to hear a phone ring during a meal. If it's an emergency, that's one thing. However, getting caught up on the soap opera happening at work doesn't qualify as an emergency.:huggles:~watergirl~

  22. Vanessa C

    Meh, talking on the cell phone at my tables doesn't bother me. I just ask them if they want me to come back. Most say no, and put the call on hold, and get the point, but some get annoyed and say yes. And that is satisfying. 🙂 What really drives me bonkers is leaving iPhones all over the middle of the table!! I've moved people's phones to put food or drinks down, it's so rude to leave them in the way. I don't go to the bank and spread the contents of my purse all over the window leaving them no space to do their job.

  23. Ian

    If I owned a restaurant, there'd be signs fucking everywhere reading 'No cell phones'. Dining out is about the atmosphere. If my phone rings when I'm in a restaurant, I step outside before I answer it. If I happen to be typing a text when I see the waiter approaching, I put the damn phone and order. And if I'm in a grocery store, and I'm on the phone, I make sure not to get in line to check out until I'm off the phone. When I used to work retail, that was something that would piss me off, people going through the register on their cell phone. Now if I, the cashier, were yacking on my cell phone while I rang them up, I know they'd be pissed about it. People are so damn rude it makes me sick. I actually suspect that some people enjoy dining out, or going to the grocery store, because they like to feel as if they can boss their server around, and exert power over them. People like that make me sick. You're not the Queen of fucking France. And if you were, I'd send your bitch ass to the guillotine, because fuck you.

  24. Natalie

    Didn't run into too much of this as a server, but it happened all of the time when I was a cashier. I would ring up their stuff, bag it, haul their heavy-ass purchases into their shopping carts, bring up the total, and if I DARED to say: "Okay, your total is X", they would give me a dirty look, as if I was interrupting the most important conversation of their lives.Get off of the phone, people. The little creatures serving you are HUMAN BEINGS! Make eye contact. Smile. Exchange little pleasantries. Do you remember how to do that?On the subject of restaurant cell phones, while I love my dear friend, I hate to go to restaurants with her. She talks on her cell phone the entire time. I feel like I'm eating alone, and I'm really embarrassed by the way she disregards our servers… 🙁

  25. Anonymous

    Agreed. If you are on youre phone, I will not wait on you. Take all the time you need! I'll do what I call a "drive by" on your table untill you realize you have no food or drink in front of you and end your conversation. Nine times out of ten I get an apology when I say. "I didnt want to interupt you". Hang up your fucking phone!


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