A girlfriend and I are sitting in an upscale restaurant having a glass of wine and a bowl of classic onion soup.
Shortly after sitting down, the hostess seats a couple at the booth just behind and to the side of us. It is in the direct line of sight of my friend.
As we chat and get caught up, I notice how uncomfortable my friend is looking. “What’s up?” I ask.
She nods her head to the couple in the booth behind us and says, “They’re making out like no one is watching.”
I turn around to look and sure enough, the woman is crawling into his lap and they are deep kissing.
At one point, when our server came by to check on us, I mentioned the couple behind.
She turned her back slightly to face away from them and whispered, “I know. It’s awful. You wouldn’t believe what we see in here sometimes.” And she went on to tell us several stories of people’s bad public behaviour.
“What I find fascinating is how we are sitting here whispering about their behaviour to not embarrass them while they’re doing a perfectly good job of embarrassing themselves!” I said at the end.
We all three shrugged. Gave little laughs (you know that shadow kind of laugh where you don’t know what to say and want to pretend it’s all okay)… And the server walked away.
At the time, I wasn’t sure what to do. The manager had come over a couple of times to check on the couple (mostly to interrupt them when they were getting too hot and steamy) but nothing was said about their behaviour.
Not wanting to ‘make a scene’, I did nothing. Though I did suggest to my girlfriend that I could go over and suggest they ‘get a room’.
“Don’t you dare,” she replied.
I’ve thought about that scene a lot since then. What could I have done differently?
I know there are those who would have confronted that couple and given them a piece of their mind. And there was part of me that wanted to. Just like there was part of me that wanted to avoid the whole situation completely.
Unfortunately, I don’t believe anyone who thinks it’s okay to behave like that in a restaurant is really all that concerned about other people’s thoughts or opinions of their actions.
But I am concerned about mine.
I am concerned about my unwillingness to stand up for what is right for me, in the moment.
Ultimately, we did leave — without me giving them my ‘evil eye’ on the way out! You know that look that says how shameful I find their behaviour and how much better I think I am!
And that’s the crux of it. It’s not about who’s better or worse. Right or wrong.
It’s all about what each of us is willing to do to create better in our world.
I don’t know if saying, or not saying, something would have made much impact in that moment. It would have helped to have said something to the restaurant management, even though they were already aware of the situation. Perhaps knowing their customers weren’t happy with it too might have helped them take more affirmative action.
When I know better, I do better.
The good part of retrospection is it gives me a chance to consider what I can do to take care of me, next time.
Next time I encounter a situation where my right to be at ease in my environment is interrupted by someone who believes their right supersedes mine, I won’t be whispering behind them, trying to avoid a scene. I’ll politely ask to be moved so that I can enjoy my evening without being tempted to turn my head every few moments to see what unbelievable antic someone behind me has got up to now.
And as for the restaurant, I’d suggest they take more affirmative action to ensure all their guests are comfortable, not just those who want to make out in their booths.