Sunday, February 18, 2007

Because I'm Old and Crotchety

At the risk of sounding like complete curmudgeon, what is up with the rash of me-centric behavior I've seen lately?

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This weekend I was at a Dunkin' Donuts which included a seating area. I had purchased a breakfast sandwich (the fact that it was 12:30 pm notwithstanding) and a coffee, and settled in to enjoy my coffee while doing some reading.

Two tables away from me and in my direct line of sight was a man enjoy lunch of his own: Chinese takeout from the place across the street. Trust me, one can't mistaken the styrofoam box with rice and broccoli in it for anything whatsoever that Dunkin Donuts sells.

Note to the guy: Do really think that Dunkin Donuts is in the business of renting out property just for the purpose of letting you come in with whatever food you want to use those facilities? It's a business. It exists to make money. The tables there are meant for people who actually spend money in the joint. Why don't you just waltz on up with a checkered tablecloth and personal picnic lunch as long as you're at it? You're probably also the guy who goes to dinner parties at friends' houses empty-handed, because you wouldn't even think that the guy spending money to have you over deserves the respect of at least a gesture of reciprocity.

This doesn't just happen at Dunkin Donuts. I walk past an Au Bon Pain in downtown almost every day at lunch and consistently see people on the tables set up outside there with non-ABP food sitting there enjoying their lunches. My same thoughts apply to you too, morons. And to anyone who thinks that just because a place without wait service puts out tables they're inviting you to sit there whether you've purchased anything there or not.

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I've recently joined a mailing list in DC for people who have items they wish to get rid of. The point of the group is to reduce waste by trying to get people to give away stuff they'd otherwise trash (one man's trash and all that). You put up posts saying you have stuff you'd like to get rid of, and other people respond by saying they'd like to get them. It's a great idea in principle, one which I support.

But some people on this list annoy me to pieces. Recently, I offered up several items for pick up. One would think that, given that I'm offering to give away, free of charge, these items that you normally would have to spend at least some amount of money to buy new, you'd do me the courtesy of letting me know if you'll be late in picking them up, or if you decide you don't want the item.

Apparently this is not the case. I had at least two people express interest in my items and not bother to tell me that they were either no longer interested or that they logistically couldn't figure a way to come get the stuff from me. (As the donee, I figure I shouldn't have to be the one to make the effort to deliver the damn things.)

Likewise, every so often you see a post from people who want things from the listserv members: "I need a XXXX. Does anyone have one they're not using?" This is fine and dandy too, but for the love of Pete, do you want to PLEASE try to make these messages sound less like a freebie grab? One person recently posted that they wanted a "vacume" (yeah, really, I had to make fun of that by spelling it the way it was typed -- TWICE) and who actually asked that any people responding to her to "respect [her] time and make sure it works." Okay, seriously, you're asking for a freebie handout. While I agree that it's rather uncool to deliberately hand off a product that doesn't work, it's seriously presumptuous to chastise people in advance for that, and to phrase in that way. Take what you get and if it doesn't work, it was worth every penny you paid to get it, buster.

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I could make all kinds of declarations about the state of civility and personal interaction in our society today, but really that would make me come across as even more cantankerous that I really am. So I'll just leave this post at that. There's more examples out there, I'm sure. Supplements to come.

3 comments:

Giada said...

Just curious -- what if you're dining with a friend who DID purchase food at the establishment, but you've brought your own (either from home or purchased elsewhere). Is it ok then to use a table? I always thought yes, but wasn't really sure. And I realize this only applies to "fast" food-like places, such as Au Bon Pain, Subway, etc.

K said...

I too have noticed the lack of simple respect, courtesy & consideration lately. It's stifling... but not really surprising, considering that society has raised an entire generation that for the most part is uncensored, undisciplined and thoughtless. Blood, guts & gore sells... courtesy, consideration & respect don't-- unless it's forced with a gun in the face...

Dennis! said...

Giada: I propose that it's okay to sit at a table if at least one person has purchased something from the place. Within reason, of course. I mean, I certainly would think 10 people sitting at Au Bon Pain tables because one person is sipping a peach iced tea is a bit rude.

K: It's quite sad, really.