This morning my husband and I went to breakfast in a lovely mom and pop restaurant in our mid-sized, mid west town. As we were served, a group of five older adults settled into a large table nearby. Before they even had their coats off, they began exchanging obnoxious comments about the community in voices that carried throughout the little diner. While each barb was tossed out couched as humorous antic dotes, it was very clear they had no respect for the local population, landmarks, culture or arts. We finished our meal and left as quickly as was possible, but had my husband not been pulling me along out the door, here is what I wanted to stay and say:

Dear Visitors,

There must be some compelling reason that brings you to our town, when you clearly don't want to be here. Might I suggest you treat the visit more like an adventure than a jail sentence. That local paper you crumpled and tossed aside has a section promoting special events, read it through. Select one or two activities that fit your frightfully busy schedules and try to attend with an open mind. Our community theater did a phenomenal production of the musical Rent just last weekend.

The waitress that you threatened with a lousy tip is part owner of the business. She came back to this area with her special needs kids because this is a place that will nurture and support her family, while she finishes her master's degree in psychology. The meal she will serve you comes, in part, from local vegetable, meat and dairy farmers. And despite your rude comments, she will do her best to fill that pretentious, ala carte order you made; not for a good tip, but because she takes pride in her work.

If you make an honest effort to enjoy your new surroundings, you will be amazed at the wonderful people, places and things you'll find. If you don't even try, well, than dig in, eat up and don't let the screen door hit you in your back-side on the way out. Out of town, that is.

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Comment by Karyn J. Powers on July 18, 2010 at 9:22am
To me, requests for multilpe substitutions, and detailed instructions like "dry toast with butter on the side," and asking for a breakdown of the content and method of prep for every dish in a Mom and Pop diner is pretentious.
Comment by I. J. Parker on July 18, 2010 at 4:29am
What's a pretentious a la carte order? Is it pretentious to order a la carte? Or are some items by definition pretentious? If so, why are they on the diner menu?

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