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Absolutely no texting allowed at the dinner table
November 27, 2012 - Anita Hanaburgh
By ANITA HANABURGH
An old college friend called and asked if I could meet her some time when I was in New York City. She wanted me to meet her new boyfriend and get to know him. We settled on going to a small Italian restaurant in lower Manhattan at First and First.
It was a perfect place, easy to get to, quaint for conversation. She looked good, had aged very well. I wished I had worn a better sweater. And “Robert” was downright handsome. I could certainly understand the attraction. I wish I had worn a better sweater.
We hurried through the preliminary steps — introductions, sitdown, hear the specials, order drinks and look over the menu — then settled into conversation. Robert, however, settled into texting. (I had noticed that when he shook my hand, his left hand clutched his phone.) I went ahead with my task of “getting to know” — where are you from, what do you do, how did you meet?”
At each question, Robert looked up briefly with a smile and answered with polite one- or two-word answers. We continued like this for a bit until I gave up and turned to Patty.
We chatted comfortably, then it started. Every minute or so Robert laughed or commented to himself. Looking at his phone, he would text, read, then laugh.
Finally I asked, “Is there something you could share with us?” Not catching my hint, he answered, “Oh no, it’s just some personal stuff.” After that, he did share, but with Patty, by telling her what he was writing or Joey’s funny comments. I sat there, eating and thinking. This gentleman did not want to meet me, get to know me, socialize with me. He did not want to hear about Patty’s college experiences, hear about our friendship, our families.
He did not respect me, but that’s okay, I am no one to him. But he did not respect Patty, either. He did not respect her enough to give polite, social time to her old friend.
Oh, busboy, the killer is that if someone told Robert that he was rude, impolite and disrespectful. He would have said, “What? I was only texting!”
Texting during face-to-face conversation is rude. Period.
Texting at the dinner table, restaurant table, breakfast table or while eating is rude. Period.
Texting should not take priority over face-to-face. The text will wait. It will still be there in a half-hour, four hours, two days. The person next to you that you are talking with face to face will not always be next to you, face to face.
My grandson said, “Grandma, you’re not a texter, you don’t understand.” Oh, but I am a texter. I am actually very good at texting. I do it a lot and I understand you are tuning me out when you answer that text in front of me.
I understand that you are choosing the person on the other side of that text over me. I understand that you don’t value my time and think I have all day to wait for you to finish your “texversation.”
I also understand that a lot of texts are just inane conversation, best said in a single succinct text. Even the most important texts do not require 20 ticks back and forth. If a text is important — from the babysitter, your aging mother, the police, your boss, the president, the Pope — then you should answer it in front of me.
One can politely say, “Excuse me, this is important,” or “it’ll only be a minute,” then apologize again for the interruption. If you are expecting a really important call/text, it is acceptable to alert your face to face companion before the call. And “A” really important call is understandable. Ten really important calls are not. Stay home.
I understand that most texters do not realize their texting is often rude. Well, now they do.
I begged out early on the dinner that evening in lower Manhattan. As I hurried out, I wondered how Patty was going to survive the rest of her dinner (and her life). As I looked back, I wondered how I could have thought that he was so handsome.
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