Eat-iquette: What Not To Do At A Restaurant

posted in: Food | 1

On Friday evening while my husband and I were enjoying our supper at a quiet cafe, a couple with a distinct Jo’burg accent entered and found themselves a spot near us. Let me paint a small picture here… The entire floor was empty. We were the only people at the cafe and from all the seats available, the table diagonal to ours seemed to be the best option to them.

I don’t have a reason to be bothered by the seat choices of other patrons… but the man seemed to think that my husband and I should know what he’s up to. Sitting down and facing me, he was engaged with his iPhone. He soon made a call to someone and decided to have the loudest conversation he possibly can. Fortunately I was hungry so my focus was on eating, unfortunately my husband and I sat in silence as it was pointless saying anything during that time – we couldn’t hear each other. Once the call was over (about 10 minutes of noise later), he continues the loud conversation with the woman accompanying him.

By this time I was starting to get full so I was occasionally taking a bite or two, which left me with moments where I could catch bits and pieces of the conversation. I didn’t need to try… It was all over the show, really. And it went something like this:

Loud dude: Do you want to go for your birthday? Why not book the flight for around your birthday date?
Quiet dudette: *mumble* *mumble*
Loud dude: I think you should go for your birthday. All your friends are going to be here. Just come back a day before your birthday.
Quiet dudette: *mumble* *mumble*
Loud dude: Ja, we have the points. Booking it should be cheap. We can do that…

A little amused, I thought to myself that perhaps it certainly is in some people’s nature to be unintentionally loud or attention seeking (depends on which way you look at it). Then entered another man, with a completely different accent (I’d peg it on Australian), to join them at their table. And by some miracle the loud dude’s tone changed altogether. He was suddenly speaking in a softer tone… more civil. The rest of the evening went by so casually, almost hard to believe that the loud dude could have spoken quietly all this time, without disturbing anyone else.


It’s not uncommon to be out in public spaces and find that some people prefer to have attention unnecessarily drawn to themselves. It’s rather unpleasant and inconsiderate when it can be totally avoided right from the start. If you’ve generously dished it out (we all have at some point) it’s never too late to get rid of that habit. Here are few things to remember:

  • When you know there are so many free seats at a restaurant, pick one that isn’t too close to others. Everyone should enjoy some level of personal space (I mean, we each DESERVE this).
  • Phone is ringing? Check if you can take the call outside first, before answering it indoors and making everyone present a part of that conversation. It’s highly uncomfortable, especially when you’re confined to a small space.
  • Don’t stare. Ever. I noticed that people who belong to the same race or culture automatically go through a 5-second staring session with each other. Sometimes it’s blatant, other times sneaky. Either way, it’s rude. Stop.
  • Responding to someone else’s conversation: this habit isn’t always welcomed. While some may accommodate the sentiments of a stranger, in truth it shows that you were following another’s conversation, one that you were not a part of, and had the audacity to respond (even if you were being funny/helpful). With regards to being helpful, rather apologise first for overhearing and ask if the person needs assistance.
  • Please don’t cover your mouth with your hand when you’re saying something about someone. It is just so impolite. Even if you aren’t saying something negative, the action in itself looks as though you are. Save your comments for later, or find a better way to communicate it.
  • Nobody’s fond of overly loud conversations in spaces that don’t encourage (or accommodate) it. Get a feel of your surroundings first so you don’t end up being the reason why 20+ others didn’t enjoy their meal/stay/experience.

And in case you were wondering, my meal was absolutely delicious! 🙂

Follow Saajida Akabor:

Digital Copywriter

Freelance digital copywriter; animal-lover; reader; photography enthusiast; and a tea drinker.

  1. Glass

    Some people love the attention and crave it, makes them complete I guess.

Your thoughts?