Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What Happened to Table Manners?!?!

I've run into this several times, but more so in the last week than ever before. It is a plague that needs to be addressed. Do you know what I'm talking about?

People. Young people. People who should know better. Young, smart, up-and-coming people who should definitely know better but somehow don't. Sometimes even old people, and those are the worst because you can't tell them off for doing it. These people are apparently oblivious to the fact that they're doing it, oblivious to the poor ears of others.

Do you know what it is?

Poor eating skills in public. I'm not talking about at restaurants or bus stops or other places that you're supposed to be eating. If you have bad manners in the privacy of your own home then I don't care. Heck, if you have bad manners at a restaurant then you're still paying for the food and space so go right ahead. I won't stop you. I won't even give you a disapproving look. 

It's the people that decide they are going to eat in the quiet places. You know. In the library. Or in a study room. Or when they are sharing a table with a stranger and decide that loudly gulping their drink is the appropriate way to go. Or at a family dinner. Or at a dinner with friends. What do you think you're doing?

You. Yes you. Asshole who thinks that bringing an entire bag of chicken fingers to class is appropriate. You sit there and chomp and snarf and annoy the heck out of everyone around you. Can you not see the various disapproving looks that you're getting? Can you not see how annoyed the teacher is? I hope she docks 10% from your grade just for that.

What specifically has to go is this. Gloops (my mom's name for people with poor table manners) who choose quiet places to loudly consume food. These Gloops lick their plates, fingers, knives, or eating companions. They belch loudly, for no reason at all. Loudly smacking while chewing. Chewing with your mouth open. Holding eating utensils improperly so your elbow is miles high. Eating way too fast or way too slow. These Gloops also may sniff (sounds like *snark*) at the table or in quiet rooms without blowing their nose. I've even seen some of these Gloops refuse a proffered tissue in favor of sniffing it all up again and again. Is your stomach roiling yet?

This is becoming a more and more common problem. I think in part it has to do with people spending more and more time in front of computers with their earbuds in. They don't interact with people or hear themselves, so how can they be possibly expected to know that their eating habits make me want to grind knives into  my ears. 

Maybe the reason it bothers me so much is that when I was younger I used to have unofficial 'best manners' contests with my sister. Both of us had sensitive ears, my sister even more so than me, and the mere sound of someone chewing was enough to drive her off her dinner. So we'd sit at the table with each other and work at not being heard at dinner. Did you know it's possible to eat a potato chip without any sound at all? Well it is. (You want to know how? Go experiment, maybe you'll learn something along the way.) The thing we both learned from it though was how to have impeccable manners. 

Sadly, people with good manners, or even people capable of good manners are becoming harder and harder to find. Here are a few more examples.

There is an older person in my family who shall not be named, but this person has a habit I can hardly stand. Every time a condiment is poured from a bottle, be it ketchup, Worcestershire, or ranch, this person takes their index finger, wipes it along the top edge of the bottle, and then puts it in their mouth, smacking loudly at the same time. Do you want to use a condiment after someone has practically licked the top? You do? Well, maybe you'd better keep reading. This person regularly licks their fingers in the loudest and most obnoxious way possible, and because they are my elder the family rules dictate I do not correct their manners. I have corrected them out of reflex on times, (to both mine and their embarrasement) but it never makes a difference. I suppose if you get to that age you assume you can do whatever you want, but maybe there's a reason a lot of old people are alone. Just saying. 

Also just saying, said older person loves to cook, but the habit they have of licking their fingers without washing has caused some people to be sick from said cooking. It's sad, but true, and no amount of reasoning can get them to see what's wrong with that.

I've heard and read countless stories where someone invites a coworker or professional prospect out for a business lunch and is so put off by their manners that they never invite them out again. It's like, so much for that job, you ate all the bruschetta before your business partner could even pull out the olive oil. 

What happened to common decency and keeping your fingers out of the sauces? What happened to keeping your mouth closed while you chew?

I have another friend with whom I have to put on blinders every time we eat together, otherwise it drives me insane. She eats her food pretty well, but eats it so slowly that absolutely everyone else at the table is done before she even is halfway through. She also manages to push some of her food off her plate while eating so it ends up on the table in a nice, messy, circle on the table. It's really disgusting. I've addressed the issue with her gently, but her reasoning is that if people actually care about her then they won't care about how she eats. I guess that's true, I mean, we're still friends and all. But I do care, so if you're this person, then for heaven's sake get a to-go bag if your entree takes you more than 30 minutes to be consumed. (For comparison, a regular entree takes someone about 10 minutes to eat.)

Okay, here's the issue. We aren't respecting the food and we aren't respecting other people. Do you think if we respected other people we would annoy them with the chewed contents of our mouths? Do you think if we respected food and how rare good food is for some people that we would mash it around, stick our fingers in it, and loudly and mindlessly consume in study groups? I think not.

I admit I have problems with eating. I'm too sensitive to the sights, sounds, and smells others make while eating. Almost everything bothers me. I prefer to eat alone. Last night my grandma came down to talk to me after I got home from work and was trying to make myself a snack. I got so uptight about her watching me eat that all I could manage was two strawberries and a drink of water. I also prefer first dates because then people are on their best behaviors. You'll never see a decent guy stick his fingers in the dipping sauce on the first date, that comes out on the third or fourth date. That aside, I do what I think is a fairly decent job of keeping these quirks to myself. I eat alone when possible and pretend it doesn't bother me. However, it does help me to see where many Gloops are making their mistakes. So I'm ranting about it here, where you can pretend I'm not actually talking to or about you and thus not hurt your feelings.

This all must go. For the sake of your professional careers, your friendships, and your love lives, please have good manners. Take a little common courtesy, improve yourself, and figure it out.

Here's a poem that I memorized when I was about 7, but sums up the problem facing us and our food today. Memorize it. Learn it. Don't be a Gloop.

The Gloops they lick their fingers, 
the Gloops they lick their knives.
They spill their broth on the table cloth, 
oh they lead disgusting lives.

The Gloops they talk while eating,
and loud and fast they chew. 
And that is why I'm glad that I
am not a Gloop, are you?


  1. Back in my day, kids had respect! =)

  2. Haha, yep! We also obnoxiously ranted on me! lol