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Table manners

Posted on June 5, 2014 by 40 Mile Commentator

By Craig Funston

Word is out the that there will be a cash discount (or some other type of reward) for parents whose kids are well-behaved at a certain restaurant. If anyone is voting on this one, count me in: I like eating with well-behaved kids and I love saving money.

How the powers-that-be implement it, of course, is another question.

Conceptually, it’s great idea. In fact, recently I was at an eatery in Vegreville, with my wife and son, who were both quite well-behaved, I might add. The sign posted at the till said it all (and I paraphrase): “The management of this restaurant will not tolerate any abuse of our staff.”

That was directed towards the adult patrons, not the children. Many years ago, had there been some sort of cash incentive directed at the parents of these now-adult children, that sign wouldn’t be necessary. In fact, when I commended the management for that sign, the hostess was almost in tears as she recounted the abuse that some of her staff had to endure.

But Vegreville could be Medicine Hat or Grassy Lake—or even Bow Island, for that matter. Complaining customers can be found everywhere, not just near the big city, the oil patch, or any other assumed classless setting.

I wouldn’t be caught dead being a waitress, for at least two reasons: One, I’m a guy and I’d have to be a waiter, not a waitress; and two, a more serious one, I couldn’t handle the demanding, snivelling, and whining on the part of the customers.

And I’m talking about the adults, not the children.

So, to be pro-active and start rewarding good behaviour in children is very good. Very, very good, indeed.

I like it because it’s a win-win-win situation: Kids would learn that they are not entitled to a meal out, only to behave any way they want to; adults save money and feel less stress in going out in public with rotten kids; and the restaurant staff will be a safe and happy workplace.

Someone may bring up the fact that there will still be bratty, spoiled kids in the public place—and wonder what to do with them. Let’s head that one off at the pass: Place a surcharge on the meal, a “brat” tax, if you will.

How you implement that is beyond me. I’m just a writer, not a cop.

Well, actually, it’s not as far out in left field as you think. Parents and teachers give kids timeout for bad behaviour, don’t they? Even cops give tickets. Store owners have disclaimers about parents controlling kids, with that sweet little sign that says, “If you break it, you buy it.”

You see, in an era of political correctness run amok, we are afraid to control, discipline, train, and guide kids—and that’s starting with our own. And when said troublesome kids wind up in our businesses (whatever they are), those owners and managers are petrified to deal with them.

There’s always the fear of abuse, I agree, but that can be said for parents, teachers and cops. However, for the limited chance of abuse, that is no excuse for turning the room, system, or institution over to these junior hellions—who one day grow up to be petty adults.

The simple concept here, Maurice, is that the good should be rewarded and the bad punished. One of the few reasons for the purpose of any government is to carry out that mandate. I read it in the Book many times. It’s consistent with how civilized societies have always carried on, fosters hope for the next generation or two, and encourages a pro-active approach to raising good kids.

Saving a little cash in the process is a nice little carrot, I might add.

So, this deal to reward well-behaved kids is a good start. Not sure where the restaurant is, but I think it’s in British Columbia. I laud them for their initiative and I look forward to other public eateries following suit.

Now, if I could just stop demanding, snivelling, and whining when I’m in a restaurant, maybe it could work to my advantage, too.

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