It’s amazing how disgusting people are when they eat. If someone ever made a documentary about buffets no one would ever eat in them again.
And yet here I sit, week after week.
The only pleasure it affords me is watching the new guests try to figure out how to get their coffee. They put the mug under the tap. Nothing happens. They press the round glowing button with a coffee cup on it and let go, and get a squirt of coffee like milk from a cow’s udder. They stare at it perplexedly, baffled as to why their cup isn’t full of caffeine. Finally they press and hold the button, and all is right with their sad little pre-packaged world.
This happens every week without fail. Multiple times. And every week it gives me a schadenfreudistic surge of glee.
It’s the little things in life.
And I need them, given the deeply disturbing things I have seen in this restaurant that serves 5,000 people three times a day. The following are eight rules of etiquette for those less civilized amongst us, who frankly shouldn’t be allowed to eat in public places if they can’t follow these basic tenets of decency.
1. No line cutting. Do I really need to say this? Are we in kindergarten? If there are people clearly waiting in what resembles a line, one behind the other, I don’t care if there is only one piece of cantaloupe left and you really want cantaloupe. You don’t get to duck in like your desire for cantaloupe is greater than anyone else’s who is patiently waiting their turn. And there will be more cantaloupe. I promise.
2. Do not let your pre-potty trained child crawl around on the table. Oh wait. Don’t let your post-potty trained child crawl around on the table either. We’re not in your dining room. This is a public eating space, and I don’t want your kid’s E. coli infested feces anywhere near where I might put my plate.
3. Don’t walk around holding a plate filled with food, which you are eating as you meander, rather than at a table like normal people, and stop in front of different food stations and stare at what’s available. This isn’t an art museum. It’s a buffet, and there are hungry people trying to get to the food you are blocking with your observations.
4. If I can see your ass, you aren’t wearing enough clothes to be eating in a public place. And it’s not even (just) about hygiene. I’m trying to eat here, people. I don’t need to see that.
4a. This does not have an inverse statement that means it is okay to ONLY have your ass covered. Sporting speedos and greasy hairy chests and Santa-sized beer bellies is not appropriate either. You’re making me lose my appetite.
5. Don’t put a hot dog in a bun on a plate, then walk around trying to eat the hot dog sans bun like you are bobbing for an apple or a pig eating from a trough. (Okay, it was a seven-year-old that I saw do this, and it was kinda funny. But this kid was alone. Where were his parents? Why have they not taught him any manners? It’s OKAY to eat a hot dog with your hands, and this kid was still not content to behave normally. And with his head in this downward facing hot dog position, his weaving walk made him a traffic hazard.)
6. Do not take a bite of something while standing in front of a food station, decide you don’t like it, and put it back in its pan. (Yes, people have actually done this.)
7. Don’t scoop out food (such as potatoes, rice, or you know, ANYTHING) with your hand. (Again, based on a true story.)
Finally, this isn’t so much a rule of etiquette as a word of advice. You’re in Italy. Napoli is where pizza was invented. Don’t load up your plate with three or four slices of buffet pizza at every meal when you have the opportunity to eat real, homemade, fresh, delicious pizza in its birthplace. I promise you nothing you eat on the ship will compare to what you eat off of it, so take advantage. It’s better than the cantelope too.