It’s a Brave New World

Al Lamanda here, with an observation: I see potential plots to murder mysteries everywhere I go and in nearly everything that I come in contact with in everyday life. If you write mystery/thrillers for a living you probably do the same thing as well.

I recently spent some time with my four-year-old grandson and after a day or so I came to realize just how far advanced kids are today over the time when I was his age. This little guy will grow up and never experience many things that helped shape my life. Things such as giant black and white television sets so large they were classified as furniture and that had just three stations and after a few years, when the knob fell off, channels were switched (gasp, you actually had to get off the sofa to do this) with a pair of pliers. He’ll never experience rotating a dial with your finger to make a phone call or speaking to a live operator. That kitchen wall phones can’t be used to take photographs and are mobile only to the end of the cord. His world will take for granted that the internet, cell phones, video games, iPads, laptops and flat screen, giant TV’s that get 500 channels (yeah, I only watch two or three of them, too)always existed for his pleasure and convenience.

With that thought in mind, I would like to share with you a recent dining experience I had at a local restaurant. You’ve probably had the same experience. I won’t name names, but you know the one with unlimited garlic rolls and salad.

So I’m waiting outside for a table. They give you a little disc that lights up when your table is ready. A group of six young women were also outside waiting for a table. Each of them had a cell phone (do you not?) and for some reason couldn’t control the urge to take selfies (code word for self-centered?) and then immediately post them to wherever things go when you post them. Let’s call it Wherever Land. They took maybe a dozen selfies, but couldn’t figure out how to take a group shot consisting of all six of them in one frame. They tried positioning themselves in various positions, but try as they might they just couldn’t seem to get it right. My better half suggested I ask them if I could take the group shot for them, but I figured if they wanted my help they would have noticed me just a few feet away and would have asked (not really what I figured, but hey, let’s keep it clean here.)

Then my little disc lit up and so did theirs. I went inside and they did not. They were still working on the six in the group selfies thing. The usual then happened. I was seated; a waiter gave us menus and said he would be back in a few minutes. Then the six young women arrived at a table next to mine and immediately began to text (do you not?) Six of them with wiggling fingers (special note: much loud giggling is required when taking and posting selfies.) Our waiter brought us bread and left them menus. The girls continued to text until the waiter brought them bread. They immediately started taking photos of the bread and selfies of, well, themselves with the bread and emailing them to Wherever Land.

The waiter took our order and then moved over to the selfies table, but the girls hadn’t touched the menus and immediately wanted to take selfies with the waiter. He obliged and more selfies were taken and sent to Wherever Land, after which the girls finally got around to ordering something.

By this time other tables were trying to catch the eye of the waiter and when he finally was done with selfies he managed to wait on them. Our food arrived and we were halfway done with the meal when the waiter arrived at the selfies table with their food. (Note: more giggling is required when a waiter brings your food) They immediately started taking pictures of their dishes and selfies galore and sending them to Wherever Land.

I ordered coffee and dessert and watched the girls laugh and giggle at their selfies and text and so on and on, until they finally got around to eating their food which, (SURPRISE) by now was stone cold. They called the waiter to the table and complained to him about the cold food. He got the manager and the complaining continued (in the meantime, no one else in the section had their food or could get a waiter) until the manager had the waiter return the food to the kitchen to warm it up and promised each girl a free dessert for THEIR trouble. When the waiter came back with the hot food, the girls insisted that he take a photo of their six smiling faces. And he did. And the photo went to Wherever Land.

I was done with dessert and coffee, but hung around with a second cup long enough for the waiter to bring the girls their six free desserts. Try to guess what happened next. Try to guess who gets killed in my next mystery novel.

I have to wonder, will my grandson in a dozen years of so be seated in a restaurant with his friends be more interested in taking selfies of his food than eating it? Don’t answer that.

It’s a brave new world we live in and sometimes it’s kind of selfies. I mean selfish.

About MCWriTers

Kate Flora is the author or co-author of fifteen books, including her Joe Burgess police procedural series, her Thea Kozak series, two true crimes, a stand-alone suspense and a memoir, as well as many short stories. Her books have been Edgar, Anthony, Agatha, and Derringer finalists. She’s twice won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction and won the 2015 Public Safety Writers Association award for nonfiction. She divides her time between Maine and Massachusetts. Flora is a former international president of Sisters in Crime.
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4 Responses to It’s a Brave New World

  1. Gram says:

    I hope that the diners who were neglected also got free desserts! P.S. I was one of those people you talked with when you picked up that old phone with no dial 🙂

  2. Lea Wait says:

    On one of the visits I make to schools (this one to a middle school in the mid-west) the teacher offered to host a small party for me and some of his better students one evening, at his house. I went. I did eat (pizza and s’mores toasted over his fireplace.) But the teacher’s dream of my talking more with his students fizzled. Most of them spent the evening texting EACH OTHER. Sometimes when both sender and sendee were sitting on the same couch.

    Next time I’ll opt for a quiet restaurant. (And hope I’m not seated near the table you were.)

    It’s a new world.

  3. Al, I love you! I sometimes wonder if we’ve de-evolved. Certainly our manners have, unlike those of chimpanzees, who, given the choice, will walk away from TVs to interact with a real person–even with a human.

    Wherever Land interests me not at all. I’d just get hungry looking at all the pix of food.

  4. Anne Mosey says:

    I read an article recently about a restaurant that was suddenly getting a lot of complaints about slow service, cold food, etc. It just so happened that they had security cameras and tapes from previous years. They compared a recent tape with an older tape and found that the reason for the cold food and poor service was their customers’ preoccupation with their cell phones. I’ve never noticed the preoccupation with “selfies” but have often seen people testing someone within conversational distance.

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