Gareth McNamara

Do me a favor, will ye? This week, preferably Friday or Saturday (cos weekend drinking) or Wednesday (cos alliteration drinking), take a walk over to Mom’s at just after three in the morning. They’re officially closed at that stage so you won’t be let in, but you can press your face up against the window to see what I’m on about. See, right after Mom’s closes, the staff who have put up with you cutting the line, stealing other people’s food, trying to start fights with other patrons, drunkenly insisting that you’d like to order something that’s not even on the menu, dropping your rubbish and food waste wherever you see fit and loudly bitching them out because somehow you didn’t realize that the line out the door might make your fries take a little longer to arrive, don’t get to pack up and go home. Once every customer has vacated Lowry, permanent and student staff then get to begin the delightful job of cleaning up after you. Stop by and take a look at the state of the place, at what they have to deal with before they can go home and rest before coming back to do it all over again.

Now, I’m sure some of you have held summer or high school jobs in food service, maybe even the soul-crushing world of fast food service. Those of you who fit into this bracket know exactly what it’s like to have an inconsiderate, messy or intoxicated customer. You know how much more difficult they can make your life. You know how every staff member and every other customer hates them (those people suck). Tolerating them is not fun and you, along with the whole restaurant, can’t wait to see the back of them.

But how often did you have one of those customers give you attitude because you asked them to stop eating off other people’s plates? How often did you have one throw something through a window and then bail out rather than take responsibility? How frequently did you have to deal with a customer screaming in your face about his order not being ready then storming out without even waiting for his food? I have a strong sense that it wasn’t a consistent occurrence, that it didn’t happen multiple times a week. I can say with almost 100 percent certainty that the same customers didn’t come in and do the same stuff every week because in other establishments this is the kind of carry-on that gets you asked to leave or barred.

Better still, how many of you have ever pulled any of that at any other restaurant, bar or fast-food place? How many of you act like you do at Mom’s when you’re in any of those establishments? That’s what I thought. There are a couple good reasons for this. One: as a reasonably intelligent person, you recognize that acting like that is stupid, selfish and not remotely becoming of an 18-22 year old person. Two: you’re probably aware that in any place other than Mom’s all other patrons would rightfully judge you for behaving like a particularly spoiled child. They’d most likely be annoyed by you or embarrassed by you. Check out the comments section on any YouTube video of an adult hulking out in a McDonald’s for a flavor of what other people think of this self-absorbed cack. Even if our own filters won’t always stop us from acting like douchebags in public, social embarrassment will keep us in our place.

My friends at home in Ireland have a party tradition I’ve always found particularly useful. A bucket (usually of the empty KFC variety) is brought to all parties where alcohol is available. If anyone overdoes it to the point that he’s behaving unreasonably and/or physically ill from what he has consumed, he’s handed the bucket of shame and placed on the porch or in a lonely corner of the kitchen (to work it out). Unless they’re dying nobody gives them any sympathy. We have very few repeat offenders. Yet here, we don’t call out or shame people when they’re utterly out of line. We whoop and applaud as they puke their guts out outside the door of Mom’s, forgetting that someone is going to have to clean it up. We get offended when people suggest that liberal arts students are all spoiled or privileged, but our weekend antics are doing very little to challenge the stereotype.

What I find most amazing about all of this is how incredibly forgiving the staff at Mom’s is. How little they complain is astounding given how much they have to deal with, night after night. But the fact that they can put up with it and stay professional isn’t carte blanche to go ahead and keep it up. I’m not asking for much here, lads. I just want you to act the same way in Mom’s that you would if you were out in any other restaurant. For God’s sake, even if you could muster up the cotillion-standard etiquette I’m sure you display at Taco Bell, it’d make for a massive improvement. And, if you’re already doing this, next time you see a friend or acquaintance getting shirty with people who are on their feet from dinner time ‘til four  in the morning, do the right thing and call him out. If need be, point him towards the cold embrace of the bucket of shame.

Gareth McNamara  is a Staff Writer for the Voice and can be reached for comment at