I saw this story the other day about a restaurant in Monroeville, PA that has done something pretty drastic: They will no longer allow children under the age of six into their restaurant.
Since I can't help myself from going off on a tangent, Monroeville might sound familiar. It was the setting of the original Dawn of the Dead. For those that don't know (and shame on you if you don't), Dawn of the Dead is one of the great zombie movies of all time. Scary, political, heavy social commentary, very dark humor. Basically it is a classic, and any movie fan or horror aficionado should rent it or throw it on the Netflix Queue. The remake from Zack Snyder was also pretty solid, but it didn't have the same themes as the original. All I could think of while reading this article was "How far is this restaurant from the mall?" and "Are the doors and windows secure or will the zombies come in through the kitchen?"
But I digress.
I told my wife about the article, and we had very differing opinions about it. This really surprised me.
You may think that I'd be calling this restaurant out now that I'm a father of two beautiful little girls. It may seem like I'd hate it for discriminating against me and my family simply because my kids haven't reached a certain point on the calendar. I think I've discussed before how Erin and I would take the girls in their car seats to the Mexican restaurant near our house as a way to get out of the house every once and awhile. This no doubt would lead you to believe that I hate what this restaurant owner has done. You'd be wrong. I actually love it.
Firstly it isn't my place to tell him how to run his restaurant. If he doesn't want to serve kids because he feels that they're too loud and he doesn't want to deal with them, more power to him. It is his right to run his restaurant however he pleases. That is the joy of being American. We have the right to run a business pretty much however we want (except when it comes to discriminatory hiring). You don't have to agree with it, but it isn't going to change his business model.
My wife doesn't like it. She thinks the guy is discriminating against parents. That he is making a choice to anger every person with kids and cutting himself off from a lot of potential business. That we should have a choice to go to any restaurant that we please whether we want to bring our kids or not. That is true. We SHOULD have the choice.
The problem with her argument is that we wouldn't take our girls to a nice restaurant at this point for many reasons. I think she'd agree that taking them to a nice steakhouse would make little to no sense. That isn't the type of environment that caters to small children, and we recognize that. But oftentimes I feel like there are many more parents that don't. They lack that awareness.
The term ugly American came from this. We oftentimes don't think of or care about how we affect the people around us. There are repercussions to our actions, but we don't feel like we have to deal with them. I didn't like how I had to change the way I acted while Erin and I were abroad, but I didn't have much of a choice. I didn't want to carry on that moniker of being the ugly American. Well really Erin cared much more than I did, but I knew I had to make that sacrifice for her. I had to do what I could to fit into the culture of these other countries. But not everyone is cognizant of this.
People for the most part have grown more and more entitled in this country. We have become a "You can't tell me what to do" culture. So people think that they can do whatever they want. In a certain sense it is true. We as Americans have the freedom to say and do whatever we please. I don't know at what age it becomes a part of our vernacular, but I hate when people say "It's a free country" as if that can end any argument and gives you a pass for anything. Freedom is a great thing to have, but these freedoms have led many to become obnoxious and entitled pricks.
And this relates back to parents. If you're a douche before you have kids, you're probably a giant douche after. It isn't as if there is a magical switch that takes your douchey tendencies and turns them off when a kid pops out. In fact it oftentimes gets worse. There are many people out there that approach life as if they are the only person in the world. They can do whatever they want and continue to do so even with kids. They are the types that don't discipline their kids because "hey it's a free country and I don't want to stifle Jermajesty" (or whatever other stupid name they pulled out of a hat). They're also the type that aren't willing to make a sacrifice like not going out to dinner. This restaurant owner doesn't want to deal with these people, so he's cutting it off for his sake and the sake of the other diner's.
Now you may be thinking: "What's the difference between the owner's freedom that you love and the people's freedom that you hate?" Nothing really. And I accept that I may be contradicting myself. That is the duality of me. But the thing is the people with kids still have the choice not to go to his restaurant even when they have a babysitter. They can deny him their business simply because of how he runs his eatery. That's how things work here.
Either way I applaud the guy for making a tough choice and telling bad parents that they suck.