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What's Your Restaurant Personality Type?
Any description of behaviors, types and personal motivations, personality traits and basically everything in this Hub is solely the opinion of Mighty Mom. This Hub is not based on any factual research. It is based on personal observation and should not be taken seriously. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly coincidental, so if you think you see yourself in one of these types and become offended, take it out on your next waitperson, not me!
Have you ever been embarrassed by your dining companion? Given a friend the benefit of the doubt, until her waiter abuse became too much to ignore? Or maybe you're the one who takes an agenda with you out to eat....?
An indicent Sunday morning made me lose my appetite. Ok, that's an exaggeration. It's near impossible to do that. But it did put a damper on my breakfast experience and ruined our waitress's day.
A woman sitting behind us sent her food back, claiming it contained too many onions. Too many onions? Uh, ok. The sweet young waitress brought her a replacement. The woman took one look, poked around a bit, and declared, disgusted, "I can't believe this." Unable to get the busy waitress's attention, she got up and stomped into the kitchen. The chagrined waitress breezed by the table and declared, "Sorry you guys. You don't have to pay."
Now the woman's husband had completely snarfed his breakfast -- not a crumb left on his plate. But here he was eating for free because his cow of a wife bitched out the waitress.
It got me thinking about bothersome behaviors I've observed at dining establishments and watering holes. And that got me thinking about why certain people routinely go out and act the way they do in public.
Here are 5 common dining out types, classified by their overt behaviors and underlying attitudes. See if you recognize yourself or someone you know.
Ordering pie a la Sally
Type #1: "I want what I want the way I want it!"
The Type 1 Diner takes a basic menu choice and adds a plateful of instructions to the chef. The goal is to personalize the dish (and every element therein) for her and her alone. And yes, this type is almost always a female (prime example: think Sally in "When Harry Met Sally").
Asking for salad dressing on the side doesn't count-- unless it's just one of a dozen additional subtractions/substitutions.
Example: "I'll have the seared tuna, but I only like tuna that's cooked, so make sure they cook it all the way through. Oh, and I don't want any sauce, just plain. Instead of rice pilaf I'll have a baked potato with sour cream but no chives -- and on the side. For my salad I don't want any cucumbers. And no dressing. Just bring me a plate of lemon slices. Not wedges, slices."
Analysis: Is it appropriate to ask for an ingredient to be left out or substituted? Of course. And you don't need a food allergy to justify it. Most dining establishments will be happy to accommodate. However, if you find yourself rewriting the menu every time you go out to eat, you might might consider staying home and cooking your own food.That way you'll be sure to get your meal exactly how you want it.
You don't have to be spoiled in every area of your life to be a Type 1 Diner (but it helps). Type 1s obviously have no respect for the chefs they routinely insult. But I believe there's a Freudian component to their behavior. Each menu modification is a desperate cry for attention from an authority (read: Father) figure. Sad, really.
Type #2: "I can't eat this!"
This type of diner makes a habit of sending food back. On principle.
Now, once in a while you'll be served something that is verifiably inedible. It may be undercooked, burnt, or tastes "off" to the point you can't stomach it. It does happen. And no one, including the restaurant, expects you to eat improperly prepared or spoiled food.
It's how frequently you send back your food that defines you as a Type 2 Diner.
Example: A Type 2 Diner doesn't wait for a legitimate excuse. Rejecting her food is a reflex. She is like the boy who cried "cockroach in my omelet" one too many times. After awhile you realize it's not the food, it's her. And again, I've seen this behavior only in women. Could it be a control thing???
The Type 2 Diner is completely self-absorbed and insensitive to those in her party. She waits until everyone's served and starting to eat, then declares some part of her meal "inedible" and sends it back. She is more intent on getting her French fries hotter or her eggs harder (or softer, or fried in margarine not butter, or whatever) than enjoying her meal in synch with the rest of the table.
Analysis: I believe the Type 2 is stuck in an infantile stage of social development. She expects everyone -- including the waiter and the chef -- to read her mind. Somehow the restaurant should know exactly how she likes -- and doesn't like -- her food. Now mind you, Type 2 is different fromType 1. She doesn't make her wishes clear up front. Oh no. She waits until the restaurant delivers her order, then selects something to criticize/reject.
A Type 2 in action is like a 2-year-old having a tantrum. It is the restaurant's unfortunate job to appease her (unless an astute member of her party carriers her out screaming). Meanwhile, everyone within listening distance gets held hostage. Not to mention heartburn.
- Dining Etiquette at FindaLink.net
Be confident that you are following proper dining etiquette with tips from FindaLink.net. Includes an explanation of place settings.
Type 3: "I don't know, I just don't know!"
It's true that some restaurants offer way too many choices. Recently, this trend seems to be waning (hooray). But I've been to places where the menu is 20 pages long.
The Type 3 Diner would starve to death in such an establishment. By the time she makes a selection, the kitchen would be long closed. But it's not the number of offerings that's the real problem. Type 3s have trouble deciding between two choices.
Example: You can recognize a Type 3 very easily. She's the one asking the waiter for a recommendation. I have always found this a very odd phenomenon. Why would I trust some 20-something, snot-nosed, wannabe-actor-with-an-attitude to have taste anything like mine? I've been eating for decades longer than the waiter's been alive, and, I daresay, in better establishments than this!
But I digress. The Type 3 Diner asks the waiter a dozen questions about the menu (and, of course, the specials). She will tell everyone else at the table to go ahead and order first, so as to buy more time. Finally, with the waiter standing there patiently, the Type 3 admits she still isn't sure.
Sometimes. at this point, the decision will be thrown out to the table. "What do you think -- should I have the salmon, or the ravioli?" The obvious response is, "Well, both are very good here. Which do you feel like? Which haven't you had in awhile? Who the fuck cares, just pick something so the rest of us don't starve to death."
Analysis: Simply put, Type 3s are commitment phobes. If they have this much trouble committing to a dinner entrée, just imagine them in a relationship.
But Type 3s can be managed. Once you recognize their deep, underlying need for reassurance (indecision is a classic sign of low self-esteem), you can either
a) Dominate the situation by taking over all food ordering on their behalf, or
b) Approach dining out as an opportunity to share two entrees. This enables you to take 50% responsibility for both selections, greatly assuaging your Type 3's ordering anxiety.
Fun Quiz/ International Dining Etiquette
Type #4: "I try before I buy."
Type 4 Diners are clueless in their own way. Like Type 3s, they have trouble making decisions, but their motives and modes of operation are slightly different. Type 4s are identifiable by their approach to beverage selection.
Example: The Type 4 is the consummate sampler. She wil ask to try every chardonnay (or "chardy" as she calls it -- gag me) in the house before purchasing a glass. By the time she's tasted her way through the wine list she's consumed the equivalent of at least one glass. Free, of course.
To be fair, there are places where sampling is not only appropriate, but encouraged. Brewpubs, for example. The thing is, the Type 4 will go into a brewpub and ask to sample all the wines, not the beers. She will go into a dive bar where the standard fare is a shot with a Bud back and want to sample the wine (which comes out of a spigot on the wall). She will do the same at a high end restaurant, cluttering the table with her tastes (of $10-$15 a glass wine) before making her final selection.
In short, The Type 4 Diner engages in this pre-commitment testing behavior everywhere she drinks.
Analysis: A Type 4 in a bar is like a kid in a candy store. She is not a connoisseur. Nor is she an alcoholic. She wants to sample everything, because she feels she deserves it. Asking for the samples is part of her ritual.
She has a sick, unhealthy relationship with her bevvie (another typical Type 4 term) of choice. She reminds me of a fawning pet owner talking baby talk to her fuzzy wuzzy in public. Can you tell I find Type 4s particularly annoying?
Type #5: "I'll have the steak."
The final diner personality is #5. Type 5s are as recognizable as any other type. In any dining party there will be at least one, usually more than one Type 5.
Example: Type 5s are straightforward and easy to please. They know what they want. They order it and enjoy it. They don't waste time pondering alternatives or second-guessing the chef. They order off the menu. When asked specific questions by the waitperson they have their answers ready.
Salad or soup? Salad. Dressing? Blue cheese. Potato, rice or pasta? Potato, baked. Sour cream and chives? Sure.
Analysis: Type 5s are the most common dining type. I believe there are two distinct types of Type 5 diners: biological and environmental.
Biological Type 5s (BT5) are born that way. They are naturally self-confident. They approach life head on. They make decisions easily. Right or wrong, they make their decision and live with the consequences. Do not confuse them with wimps. They are anything but wimpy. They are merely well adjusted people who apply common sense and respect to their restaurant and bar experiences.
Environmental Type 5s (ET5), on the other hand, are made, not born. They learn their behavior. Like Pavlov's dogs, they learn to approach dining in terms of pain avoidance. Where you see a Type ET5 you are sure to see a Type 1, Type 2, Type 3 or Type 4. The ET5 personality develops over time. The more negative experiences he has with a problem diner, the stronger the ET5's personality becomes.
Unfortunately for all, Type 5s attract no attention. Even a table full of 5s wil not mitigate the damage caused by their Type 1, 2, 3 and 4 companion.
To all you Type 5s out there I say: You may not get the recognition you deserve, but at least you can enjoy your meal, confident that the chef and waiter haven't spit (or worse) in your food.