Thursday, July 23, 2015

To Scream or Not to Scream

I must give major kudos to TVTeddy at Twitter ( for opeing this discussion about a deplorable situation that simply didn't need to happen. Thanks for opeing up this level-headed dialogue, regardless of some of the responses I have read, again thank you Teddy  .

I have been asked repeatedly to weigh in on the viral story of Darla Neugebauer, owner of Marcy's Diner on Oak Street, Portland, Maine who was heard screaming at a 21 month old child.

I'm not going to mince words here because I feel trying to 'cave-in' to one side or the other, or both, makes my comments mute. In a nutshell, for those of you who are unaware of this story, we have a couple from New York, Tara Carson, her husband and child, go into Marcy's Diner for breakfast. The food they order is completely and utterly irrelevant to the story and will not be repeated here, although Darla uses it as an excuse for her tyrant of obscenities. Tara's wait time for her food is highly relevant however.

Owner Carla Neugebauer

During the 40-45 minute wait time for their food, their child was becoming increasingly rambunctious and even may have been irritable, as all parents are keenly aware. The child may have even started becoming disruptive, although there has not been one statement from existing customers that this was the case.

Apparently the owner herself felt the need to belittle, demean and scream obscenities at both the parents AND the child AND came over to their table, throwing down take-out containers with a few less than nice comments about Tara and her family leaving the restaurant. This can be seen at

I will put blame on the parents on one point, NONE on the child and the rest on the obvious(from my perspective) issues of Darla.

                                                  Tara Carson. (Photo Credit: KVUE)
If the child was, indeed, to the point of being disruptive, then the parents certainly should have realized such and taken the first step to remove themselves so that others could enjoy their culinary repose.

Now having said that, I am 'biting at the bit' to say something about the owner. I have been in many public venues where newborns, toddlers and children have been disruptive, and the first thing that I remember and tell myself is that a child is just a child. As long as the parents realize that their child is either disruptive or may become so and are acting appropriately with others in mind, then the issue is resolved. If they are not, then it is incumbent upon me to remove MYSELF from the "site of distress".

The owner felt as though, apparently, her other customers would never come back if she didn't control the situation her own way. Really? That is insane!!! I will go out of my way to never visit that diner and can safely assume others feel the same way. Now which option is common sense?

For all of you who agree that the Carla's comments and tantrum were just and appropriate, I am at a complete loss of words. That is only one step below the morality scale on how she actually handled this.


Here is the link to each party's response.

It would have been far more appropriate for Carla to have cooled down a bit, sent another employee over and brought one of the parents aside to explain that their child was causing a disturbance(if the baby actually was)and to please try to rectify it. While the staff could have done more to help the family out by possibly satiating the child(if needed)with some crackers or something or cooking the meal ahead of others but chose not to, they aggravated the situation. And don't tell me that could not have been done. I have done that hundreds of times in my career, as my father and grandfather have since 1918. It is a matter or WANTING to.

Certainly is isn't incumbent upon the staff to help, but it sure would have been a decent thing to do. But as sad as it is nowadays, people would rather allow drama in their lives than to try and prevent it.

Bottom line. We cannot, nor should we even try, to legislate morality. There will always be that one sour apple in the bunch and we need to learn to live with it. Although the owners actions were unforeseeable and inexcusable, it would have been wise to remove yourself from a situation that is easily inflated, especially in todays "me me me" world.

But what supersedes that thought is the entirely demeaning way in which the owner tried to solve the problem. As mentioned, the parents could have been dealt with on the side or in a much more dignified manner to begin with, ONLY if there was a true issue.

It looks as though the owner has either an anger issue or something emotional is off kilter because anyone who swears or screams at a child, any child, knows that a child cannot defend him or herself. So in their mind, they won the fight. They feel so ill of themselves that they take it out on others and try to bring others to their level or attempt to make themselves look better in the eyes of those around them. Hmmm........I am sure psychologists and psychiatrists have a word for that.

Certainly there is nothing illegal about this episode and we should not try to bring anything into this that doesn't belong. It is purely and simply a moral issue and a life lesson. There will always be idiots among us.

Now if I have missed something here, than certainly I will alter my opinion because parents should act as such and not make their child out to be any more special than anyone else. As more comes out, than I will change my opinion but I still think there are other ways of dealing with this than hollering out obscenities at a child, IF she indeed did do that.

To Carla personally.

One of the first lessons we learn as a cook, or even a restaurant owner, is how to deal with patrons, regardless of the issue. Cooks, especially, need to keep their psych on an even keel, not act in a demeanor that is perceived as psychotic. If you had a child that was screamed at in the manner you did, how would you feel? Would you sit back and take it?

Show your employees restraint and compassion. It is a shame we even need to teach this, but because some bosses choose NOT to set a precedent to their staff, we need to. Shameful.


Anonymous said...

You are absolutely spot on chef. Everyone needs to relax, take a breath and stop to smell the roses. I only hope others can understand the meaning behind smelling the roses rather than complain about the thorns.

sickofitall said...

One question. Would you sit your child down beside you and read a book using the 'F' word over and over again, all the while screaming it to him/her in an angry manner? I don't give a rat's behind about what led to all this nor the excuses, observations and irritating nature of either party. I would never allow myself to get so angry as to scream out obscenities at a child, period!!!!!! What's wrong with you people who don't see that as being just plain crazy? Why couldn't the owner just have called authorities, have a calm discussion with the authorities and then have them legally and quietly removed for trespassing?

Anonymous said...

I will get blasted for my response. I actually side with the restaurant owner and not the parents. Parents today are raising brats. They are failing to discipline their children and give into them at every request. Working with the public is very stressful. Having a screaming child in a small area makes everyone on edge. If you cant control your child take them outside or into the bathroom. If the child is crying because she is hungry, why don't you have something for her to snack on? If she is just antsy because of the wait, then make sure you have something that will occupy your child's time. This is the parents responsibility.

The Yankee Chef said...

I truly appreciate your input and you can feel safe here expressing it. I don't allow rude, defamatory or nasty responses. And when you express yourself as well as you did, I cannot thank you enough. I totally agree that parents should take responsibility. I guess what I should have said in short was that no matter what happens, simply don't be rude, obnoxious or lower yourself by swearing in front of any child for any reason. That was NOT the only way to solve this. As a friend of mine mentioned, if an apology was given by either or both, this wouldn't have garnered so much attention. Thanks again for your input, your decent opinion. It is much appreciated.

Barbara Norton said...

You have a very well thought out answer. I agree as a parent I often took things for my kids to do so they wouldn't be bored or raise Cain. That being said, I also have given it (crayons, paper, snacks) to other parents who may have forgot to bring something. If I had been the wait person I would have got the child something from the kitchen, I don't think it would have been that hard. Anyway thanks for the 3rd party observation and the compassion. I love your pink smock too.