Published 25 October 2021
by Adam Hyman
Taken from CODE Bulletin Monday 25 October
Let’s set the scene. We are coming to the end of a civilised Saturday lunch on a sunny, autumnal day in Oxford.
The last of the South African Shiraz is being poured and we are finishing the last mouthfuls of a banana tarte tatin. Over on the other side of the restaurant, a young guest (perhaps from one of the city’s famous colleges judging by his preppy attire) is leaving. He decides to swing by the cheese trolley to help himself to a slice of something mature and a cracker or two. We look on in confusion. He mutters something under his breath about still being hungry and saunters out, seemingly oblivious of his unruly actions.
In a bid to understand what happened, we speak to a manager. It is, as we suspect, simply a case of a rude, entitled customer who thinks they can do as they please. The team leave him to it as from previous experiences it leads to aggressive behaviour, which no doubt causes an unpleasant situation for the whole dining room. Nobody likes a scene. In basic terms, taking cheese from a restaurant trolley is an act of theft, no different to shoplifting from your local supermarket. It’s also a complete disregard of common decency and respect. I’ve noticed more and more since lockdown that our shops, supermarkets, hospitals and travel hubs now feature laminated signs telling us that there is (quite rightly) a zero tolerance stance on verbally abusing staff and acting without courtesy. I’m yet to see a sign like this in a restaurant but perhaps we might not be far off?