It was my friend Wayne’s birthday and his Mum took us out for a teatime treat at our favourite place. We had barely sat down when she whipped out her cell phone and started pressing buttons.
I was still examining the menu so didn’t think about it, but then the waitron appeared and asked if we were ready to order.
Both Wayne and I knew what we wanted, but his Mum had not even looked at the menu yet. She just ignored the dude and carried on reading something on her cell phone.
The waitron stood there patiently for a bit. Then he hopped from foot to foot and sort of cleared his throat, as if to say… well… um… excuse me?
I considered giving her a nudge or saying something but thought that might be rude.
Eventually she looked up, waved her arm offhandedly and said “Just coffee”.
I probably went bug-eyed with surprise. No please. No thank you. Definitely no sorry for keeping you waiting!
I looked at Wayne to see if he had noticed but he was messing with the sugar packets.
His mother went back to her phone and ignored us completely.
Wayne asked his Mum if she’d had a good day, but she didn’t even hear him and so did not reply. He and I chatted quietly for a bit, and then we went and played in the kids section.
“Doesn’t your mum talk to you at the table?” I asked when we were safely out of earshot.
“No,” Wayne replied a little sadly. “She’s always doing stuff on her cell phone, even at home.”
I looked around the place and noticed that quite a few of the parentals were fiddling with their cell phones whilst their kids were sitting at the table, colouring in or trashing the place. There were other people sitting together, looking at their phones too – not talking to each other.
Our food arrived. His mum drank her coffee and hardly took her eyes off her phone. Wayne sucked up the last bits of his milkshake and made a loud slurpy noise.
His mother looked up sharply and said “Wayne! Where are your manners?”
But how could she expect Wayne to have manners if she did not have any herself. My Dad always says you have to earn respect, not demand it.
Let’s all talk to each other more please. Put those phones down.