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Updated on July 26, 2011
Gnocchi anyone?
Gnocchi anyone?

Family dining in a restaurant can be fun - except when unwanted intrusion from a complete stranger occur

After much ado about where to dine one hot afternoon, my family and I decided to try out this quaint little place behind our subdivision. One thing I appreciate where I live is the fact that I am in the midst of what you’d call “the best of both world.” If you drive on the north side, you’ll find the luxuriant amenities of one of the largest cities in the country. If you drive on the south side, you’d feel like you travelled in time. Well, that afternoon we felt like travelling in time.

As a member of a local chamber of commerce, I’m privileged to receive flyers announcing the fun activities in our surrounding area. Listening to a live band while dining in a saloon - caught my attention. We’re accustomed to the north side dining style, so we had to research what a saloon is. We were forewarned that it’s a place that time seemed to have forgotten. We drove around the entertainment community first, and within a minute we covered the entire area. Two restaurants grabbed our interest.. My husband went to the saloon first, gave me his assessment – I gave it a thumbs down. We drove around one more time and saw a small Italian restaurant. I summoned my husband to do a peek-outside-the-door-and-see-how-the place-looks-inside. A family debate ensued, and it’s a thumbs-up. But the minute I walked-in, I knew I should have done the peeking.

Our “time travel” started fine. The garlic bread melted in our mouth, and we all exclaimed in unison “Yummm!” I ordered an Italian dish that we have difficulty pronouncing - gnocchi. I proudly said, “I’ll have the nochi please.” The waiter repeated my order: “So you want the seafood nyaki.” And I thought I got the pronunciation down pat. Appetizer was passed as we didn’t feel that hungry.Good thing I brought my droid phone that takes decent pictures. Ignoring the glances of customers, I decided to take a memoir of this place full of memorabilia on the wall. I clicked away until our entrée was served.

Lesson one: waiting for food without appetizer will seem like an eternity.

After a few forkfuls, a customer walked in and she was given the table next to us. When she was done giving her order, our ordeal began. She asked my husband who was sitting (unfortunately) next to her, “What did you order? It looks sooo good!” Afterwards, she asked me smilingly, “Where did you get your blouse? It looks sooo good on you!” Then her attention focused on my daughter, “You look sooo familiar,” she said. Since she’s full of adulations, I tried to accommodate a short conversation with her in between bites. All I could hear was blah, blah, blah, as I thought of telling her, “Leave us alone woman!” She continued to chatter and came up with endless topics to “discuss” with my husband. I was half done with my plate when I suddenly noticed: My husband’s plate was still untouched. Mind you, we don’t know this person from Adam. I tried to cut their conversation by motioning and tapping at my husband’s plate. It didn’t work. Being a Southern gentleman that he is, blowing off this chatterbox is not an option.

Interrupting a stranger while they’re talking is not in my husband’s blood as he thinks it’s simply rude. Rude!! I think that woman is insanely rude! Not only did she steal my husband’s time from us, she gave my brain a workout because I had to find ways to avoid her blabbering like: gazing away from her stare, pretending not to hear her, talking to my daughter, looking at the walls, and taking bad pictures (they turned out blurry). “I’m relieved” was an understatement when her husband joined her who came from nowhere. I found out they have dogs outside the restaurant that’s why the husband had to go in and out. But the short break didn’t last very long. That woman was by herself again and she turned to my husband, as if with a vengeance, to continue where she left off. She didn’t see my eyes rolled. I guess talking addicts can smell their “victims” a mile away.

When the bill came, it even made me more upset.

There are people, like my family, who’d rather suffer in silence than create a scene in public. In deference to their benevolence, I conceded and restrained my mouth with all my might. Sometimes, you have to make a choice between kind and rightful act. Few days after the incident, by sheer coincidence, I accidentally contacted the restaurant owner (I meant to contact someone else via email, but instead I got her). I felt compelled to take advantage of the circumstance so I wrote a constructive feedback, to help them handle motor mouths and avoid losing customers. I already resigned myself to letting the incident slide. The owner’s response was positive - a smart move. She apologized and informed me that had I mention something to the waiter, they would have done something to fix the situation. Darn! We just assumed they won’t do anything to avoid losing this loyal customer. I maybe more assertive than my family, but I’m not one to create a scene in public either.

Lesson two: Never assume.

Experts say that incessant babbling is a sign of talking addiction. These people think they become interesting when they let their mouths run 500 miles per hour. What they don’t realize is they are trying to fill their inner void by trapping people to listen to their endless chattering. Some have become so adept, like this woman in the restaurant, by asking questions to engage the other person to make it a legitimate conversation. The vacuum they feel can be compared to having a child inside of them. Instead of paying attention to their inner child who is starving for attention, they transfer that responsibility to others, like giving a child for adoption. No amount of talking will satisfy this emptiness, because only these people know what they feel is lacking in their lives. But first, they need to start accepting responsibility. It’s their job to fill the void – not others. There are many different avenues to discharge negative emotions that can alleviate the hunger for talking. Do a self-dialogue, pray, meditate, exercise, read, watch a movie, and write a blog. If you can afford it, seek professional counseling.

So next time you go to a restaurant, please observe “de rigueur.” Coming from a different country, I had to restrain myself to go straight where the tables are. My husband practically had to put a leash on me. But this shortcoming is nothing compared to the woman at the restaurant who is oblivious to other people who needed to be left alone. It’s acceptable to network during social functions, but there’s a difference between networking and intrusion on other’s affair.


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