I have rules about almost everything. None of them are really very important. No tank tops on men, no skinny jeans on anyone, don’t end a sentence with a preposition, and please don’t say “a whole nother” – nother is not a word. Vanity plates = bad. I don’t like being on speakerphone (does anyone?). And if I call you, call back, don’t text back. And in the realm of texting: no emoticons, no LOL or BRB, etc. I am only now able to tolerate the XOXO.
It never takes me too long to embrace gadgets and new forms of communication. I was a little slow with emails at first. I enjoyed the Instant Messaging on the computer, briefly. I've never been down with the webcam, but I Tweet. And while, as mentioned above, I prefer someone to respond to my communiqué in kind, I have really embraced the text message over the past few years.
It has never been, however, the primary or sole venue of communication between myself and anyone else. Until very recently, that is.
I have a friend with whom I have never spoken on the phone. We do speak with our voices when we are face to face – which is rare. We have emailed once or twice to send a larger file of some kind. But 99.9% of the time we text. And through this texting we have shared and discovered an enormous amount about one another, and perhaps ourselves. It’s quite interesting, actually – like a new form of the pen pal.
It is also a fascinating way to learn about someone, which we rarely do these days, how they write – even in such a casual context. I, for one, feel that I text the way I speak (perhaps slightly less verbosely, of course). But everyone has their text voice.
Tone is often something that can get greatly misunderstood in text-land. A lot of my friends use an abundance of exclamation points to ensure they don’t appear terse. There is a lot of "Yay!" and "Of course!" that goes on with my girlfriends. Sarcasm is often lost in text-land (which may be why some people feel the need to insert that pesky “winky” emoticon). Me - I still try to find the right words for my sarcasm, which often doesn’t work, and I get a snippy reply – with a “frowny” emoticon. Oh, well. I said I have rules.
1. In the realm of servers and staff: it’s a fine line, I realize, but know when to be there or when to stay away. I am there to enjoy my food with my friends. I don’t need an army of people wiping a lone crumb off the table or adding a teaspoon of water to my glass at all times, interrupting the conversation and the enjoyment of the food and wine. That being said - please know when my wine glass is almost empty, and please don’t make me wait 38 years before bothering to take my order.
2. On the water tip: Do not lead the diner with, “Bottled, sparkling or just tap?” That is condescending and makes the diner feel like a simpleton for wanting tap water. We all know either is just fine.
3. DO NOT clear a plate from the table unless everyone in the party has finished their course. Rude. Rude. Rude.
4. There are so many wines that are absolutely delicious, complex and inexpensive these days. We know that restaurants make most of their money on the booze, but Good Lord, there is no reason not to have a selection of reasonable wines in the $50 and under category.
5. I don’t care if you are the fanciest chef with the fanciest restaurant. Provide salt and pepper for your diners. Or, at least, don’t give them the stink-eye if they request it. Everyone’s palates are different and there is just no need for the pretense in assuming someone is trashing the food by sprinkling a dash of sea salt or cracked pepper on it. And I always taste the food first.
By the way, I admittedly am guilty of a major diner’s no-no: often, one may see me texting at the dinner table. I know. It’s really horrible. Perhaps even worse than using an emoticon…