A Poll On Politeness

Tonight Kish and I went to dinner with friends. We had a nice meal with great company, but the evening also involved an off-putting instance of what I considered to be incredibly rude behavior.

The scenario was as follows. We had reservations for 7 p.m. — the heart of the Midwestern dinner period. When we got to the restaurant, the hostess said the people at our designated table were done with their meal and would be leaving soon. A few minutes later, we were escorted back to the table by a waitress, but the people were still there. The waitress apologized. Rather than head back to the hostess station, we stepped over to the nearby bar area, in plain sight of the table, and waited . . . and waited . . . and waited.

I know the people at the table saw us, because one of their party glanced over at us from time to time. It was obvious we were waiting for them to leave. But they continued chatting gaily over their empty table, and even got a refill of their water glasses as we stood by the bar. Eventually the restaurant found a new table for us, and when we were seated the people were still there, occupying a table and apparently unconcerned that they were inconveniencing others.

It’s a small matter, perhaps — but I never would have lingered at a table under those circumstances, knowing that other people were waiting. Am I wrong in considering the people at the table to be grossly inconsiderate jerks?

Cable Companies Come, Cable Companies Go

News reports state that Comcast plans to buy Time Warner Cable. If the deal goes through, the new, combined company would control about 75 percent of the cable television market in the United States.

IMG_1771I should care about this, I guess, because Time Warner Cable is our cable provider. I had to check to confirm that, because our cable provider was a company called Insight Communications. I know this because our remote control has the Insight name on it. But sometime in 2012, Time Warner bought Insight Communications, and the contract with the Webner household went along with it. I’m pretty sure that we’ve had other cable providers, too, before Insight.

When these corporate acquisitions occur, companies typically run TV commercials that say something like “Slackjaw Communications is now Birdseed One!” The ads have to use an exclamation point, because otherwise viewers might just shrug their shoulders and miss the point that this is tremendously exciting, groundbreaking news. Usually the ads also promise that we’ll be amazed by the change and the news services we’ll receive. Then months pass, nothing changes, and we’ve still got the same old remote control unit we had under the old company.

If the Comcast purchase of Time Warner Cable goes through, we’ll see a new set of those exclamation point ads. For us, though, cable service is almost like a utility. Whether it’s Comcast or Time Warner Cable or Insight Communications or Birdseed One, we just want to have our high-speed internet without interruption and make sure that HBO and basic cable are available on our TV set. I’ll start caring about the name of the company that supplies these basic services if they start screwing up.