One step behind even that question, of course, is noticing how the people most upset about the list seems to be waiters. The list kind of hides the implied master-servant nature of the restaurant dynamic, and how we can overcome that without making the waiter the master (and that does happen sometimes, let's face it--conventions of fine dining can oppress the diner into meek obsequiousness, hoping merely not to faux pas one's way through a tangle of too much silverware and the grand theater of tasting the wine). For I have seen patrons treat waiters like crap, and one could easily compile a list of "how to be a good person at a restaurant," but, alas, much of that would also make the list, "here's how not to be an asshole anywhere, but you can't seem to do that, can you." Too many folks think since they're paying money for the evening they're buying the person, and therefore anything goes. (Parallel problem: People who give big money to non-profits and then think the non-profit staff works for them as part of their hefty donation. Sorry, not true. Your dollars don't trump the 13th amendment.)
Back to why we eat out (and get your mind out of the gutter)...true, just a part of it is food. It's often always social (unless one is a "singleton"--hey, no judgment in that term, is there? and can I be the mayor of singleton?), and an engaging waiter can be one bit of that party, but of course, a bit player, no more than an Edward Everett Horton or Thelma Ritter. The trick is reading the situation. Is it a couple clearly lovey-dovey? Don't get tangled in their roost. Etc. I like to think of dining as rhetorical, all about audiences and needs, attitudes, and knowledge. Read the table. Proceed.
So that's rule 1 at my place. How about yours?
Labels: foodie can't fail