A short while ago, I took my youthful daughter to one of the “finest” restaurants in Spartanburg, South Carolina, a venerable house in the middle of town. While I have no large complaint against the eatery itself, I do have a beef about a group of clients that picked that particular night to grace the establishment. A special occasion was ruined by some of the foulest conversation I have heard outside of a beer joint. We couldn’t leave fast enough to avoid the banter.
Picture this: linen tablecloths, servitors offering quality selections, low lighting, gracious atmosphere – an expensive meal reserved for the most special of events – and then WHAM! In comes a group of eight well-dressed men, probably salespeople for their company judging by the hints they so boisterously spilled onto the surrounding tables, but definitely representing a large business concern. They began to loudly discuss their greatest sexual conquests, the most fantastic nights of their lives while either married or unmarried, the topless encounters in other States where such debauchery is legal, whores they had visited once upon a time. I called for the check, debating whether to say something to the management as we made our escape. Perhaps I was just plain chicken not to make a stink then and there, but to create a scene in front of my daughter? No, I decided to flee instead.
While I am not a prig, I do know what common table manners are. My ears burned as I looked into my daughter’s innocent eyes, as I saw the horror on the faces of other women nearby, and felt extremely low as a male of the species. How could such “gentlemen” find it in themselves to speak so foully, without even the excuse of being inebriated, in an establishment such as this? I ask you – where have our manners gone?
If it were possible to have determined their corporate sponsor, that name would appear everywhere I could find that would print it. As I have said before, sales representatives are ambassadors for their companies. How they act in public directly affects not only their reputation, but that of their employer. The main difference between a good corporate representative and a bad one is MANNERS!
Now, this particular “fine” food joint happens to be managed by a woman. I noticed she had a ringside seat to this conversation too, as she spoke with another female patron only a few feet away. The truck I have with her is why didn’t she ask those rude men to change their subject or leave? It would have been the proper thing to do in order to protect her other clientele and maintain the high level of service this restaurant is purportedly known for. Did she hold silent because it would have meant the loss of around three hundred dollars profit that night? Do we compromise our moral standards based on money? I suspect she kept her tongue for just such reasons.
Where can one go these days to avoid such uncouth etiquette, especially on the part of professional corporate representatives who should know better, behavior usually experienced in low-life barrooms? These days, parents raise their children to disrespect everything around them, especially other people and property. School systems fail to uphold the decorum once demanded by all institutes of higher learning. No amount of money seems to be enough to get us out of this morass, as evidenced by the mega-bucks I laid out as I hastily left this posh establishment.
If this incident were unique, I suppose I would have no grounds to be offended. A onetime occurrence is not quite the same as daily vulgarity, however. The fact is proper manners have been all but dispensed with in every facet of our lives. I see it at my children’s school, in the movies, on television, in the papers. The list goes on.
Maybe I’m expecting too much of professional representatives by suggesting they adhere to a high standard of morality. Certainly it follows that if a salesperson would be openly foul in a quality restaurant, then said salesperson would be suspect when dealing with clientele? I think it does. Do you?