At some point, it apparently became protocol for a server to clear a diner's empty plate even if others at the table are still eating. Please stop, writes Roberto Ferdman at the Washington Post. The move makes slower eaters uncomfortable—you're going too slow!—and faster eaters uncomfortable as well—you went too fast! Maybe restaurants are doing it to reduce clutter or, more likely, to free up the table for new customers as soon as possible, but whatever the reason for this breach of longstanding restaurant etiquette, it needs to end, writes Ferdman.
Servers now "hover over diners, fingers twitching, until the very instant someone puts down a fork," he writes. "Like vultures, they then promptly snatch up the silverware—along with everything else in front of the customer. If you're lucky, they might ask permission before stealing your plate." Eating out with friends or loved ones is supposed to be a nice experience, not "a group exercise in guilt." Click for the full column.