One of my biggest pet peeves, as anyone who's read STFU, Parents can attest, is the somewhat recent (?) phenomenon of diaper changing entitlement. Perhaps this is the kind of thing one only notices as she ages, but I could've sworn I never saw anyone change a baby diaper on a restaurant table or a movie theater seat when I was growing up. It seemed like magic -- people with babies would disappear for a short time after the baby shat himself, and then they would suddenly re-appear, cleaned-up baby in tow.
Considering changing tables weren't even commonly installed until the late '80s / early '90s, it's bizarre to think that 2015 has a seemingly much higher rate of parents using public surfaces as changing tables (with or without a changing pad, depending on the obnoxiousness of the parent). Plus, cars have grown a lot, too! Back in the day, changing your baby in your car might have meant squatting in a parking lot, attempting to wrangle your writhing, dirty child in a Gremlin the size of a breadbox. (Remember breadboxes?) Nowadays, people can change their babies in Chevy Tahoes the size of my Brooklyn apartment. I imagine them spreading out in these air conditioned vessels, changing their babies on sheepskin rugs that lay upon supple, caramel-colored leather seats as they watch a live-stream of a tennis tournament on their car headrest monitors and sip a Diet Coke with a straw before placing it back in its special cup cradle. And yet parents STILL insist on changing their babies on public surfaces such as restaurant tables if there are no "official" changing tables (ideally made of eco-friendly materials) in the bathrooms. It's one of the best examples of parental entitlement that exists, and it proves that if you give people an inch, they'll take a mile.
In the case of who can be more annoying in restaurants -- parents, or their children -- the jury's still out. But when it comes to diaper changing, there is only one clear answer: It is never, ever okay to change your baby on a public eatery table where people dine with food they put into their mouths. Even if you put down a pad. Even if you "sanitize" the area, or you expect someone else to sanitize it for you. It's wrong, and as long as STFU, Parents is around, I will make it my mission to shame these foul parents for assuming that the world should cater to their diaper-soiling poop machines.
Don't get me wrong -- babies are babies, and you can't really control when a child is going to have a blowout, or need a simple diaper change at an inopportune time. No one is criticizing babies for crapping themselves or parents for cleaning them up. The issue in question is the WHERE, not the why.
The most entertaining part of this stinky faux pas, if there's any entertainment to be gleaned, is that the types of parents who commit these diaper crimes are so up their own ass, they feel wholly justified in their actions. It's like watching a dog lick his own balls without abandon. "What? You got a problem or something?" Parents who choose to subject other diners, as well as restaurant employees, to their diaper changing display feel convinced that public spaces don't cater to parents like they should. There just aren't enough changing tables. And maybe that's true! Maybe one day, every bar and restaurant bathroom in North America will feature custom Tempur-Pedic changing tables that play popular children's music and offer free, organic baby wipes made by Kiehl's, but for now, that's not the case. And that leaves some (annoying) parents with a bitter pill to swallow.
One woman in Ottawa thinks changing tables (inside privately-owned establishments) should be mandatory. Another filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau after she was asked to leave a restaurant, which is also what Chipotle will do if you attempt to change your baby's diaper in a room full of bean-eating burrito lovers. Maybe it's because if you DO change your baby's diaper on a dining table, there's a decent chance some feces will "land on the floor near the table" and quickly get ingested by a toddler, who will later contract a bacterial infection. Maybe. Meanwhile, across the globe in Russia, a kid takes a dump on a grocery store floor. Isn't the world a funny place?
The one positive thing I will say about this nasty habit some parents have is that much of the ire tends to be directed at family friendly restaurants rather than upscale eateries. I've yet to hear of a case where parents changed their baby's diaper on a white linen tablecloth at a Michelin-starred restaurant, so that's helpful for all you foodies out there laying down half of a mortgage payment on dinner. For everyone else, this column may be the motivation you need to never eat at a prototypical "family" restaurant or fast food joint ever again, if you were looking for that kind of push. If you're the type who likes to dine-in at McDonald's, however, you're shit out of luck. Let's take a look at some parents who really need to learn that restaurant tables do not double as changing tables for their babies.
1. Parents Are Persecuted
Gosh, Amy, life sounds SUPER HARD for a brat like you. I'm sure this years-old restaurant is going to miss your smiling face and cheery attitude, not to mention your respect for other diners and the people who work there! Any minute now I bet you're gonna get a call from the owner apologizing profusely for your inability to change your child's "unfortunate blowout" diaper in any other space than the main dining room. He or she will almost certainly reimburse you for your meal, send you a gift card for another free meal, fire the employee in question, and personally greet you with a diaper cake and a bottle of champagne the next time you stop in to eat -- AFTER installing a changing table in your child's honor, of course! There will likely be an engraved gold plate screwed in on the bathroom wall that reads "This changing table was the result of a powerful message left on our Facebook page and is installed in honor of our favorite customer, Amy." And THEN your kid can have another "unfortunate blowout" and you can christen the changing table after a quick-but-celebratory ribbon-cutting ceremony covered by select media. Way to use your time to the fullest by leaving this Woodland Hills-changing comment. You're serving your community!
2. Emailing Corporate
I love this idea that when parents like Heather "email corporate," they think that "heads are gonna roll." It's a statement that can only be uttered by someone who hasn't actually worked "in corporate," because anyone who has knows that no one in corporate gives a flying fuck about anything except their stock options and holiday bonuses. Avoiding people like Heather is actually what "corporate executives" a Burger King do best. Keep emailing, though, Heather. I'm sure whenever the Executive Vice President of Burger King Customer Service is done playing his next round of golf, he'll get right back to you with a sympathetic ear and a coupon for Rodeo Burger.
3. Mommy Confessions And "Diaper-Ins"
Camille, Amanda, and Svetlana: Y'all are the problem. Kata, Diana, and Janette: You ladies are my heroes. The best thing about a Mommy Confessions board is when a mommy realizes that she's NOT just surrounded by a bunch of "yes women" like she thought she was. No, it turns out some people actually do have standards and don't think the world, and the design of every public restroom, revolves around them! It sucks when you think that the ONE place you can go, the ONE group of people you can turn to, is actually half-comprised of women who can't stand your disgusting entitlement and demented diaper changing philosophies. Also: a "Diaper-In"? Give me a fucking break. Sit-ins exist to create social change for the betterment of all people, not to legitimize asshole parents' stances on changing tables. I do like Svetlana's spunky enthusiasm, though. Just imagine what she could accomplish if she applied that proactive activism to something that matters!
4. Jana FTW
"Just gotta be more creative" is the name of the game, and I'm glad these people can have a reasonable discussion about what sounds like an unreasonable act. And yes, I'm including Jana in that statement, because I think it's pretty reasonable to counter an indefensible action with another, equally disgusting, thoroughly embarrassing action like peeing on the floor in the middle of the dining room. Remember Grandma Hirst? If she could do it, anyone can.
5. Taco Bell's Beef Gordita Supreme-Eating Customers More Interested In Cleanliness Than Danielle Thinks
Daaaaaamn, I need to spend more time on the Taco Bell Facebook page. There's some lively debate happening over there! I was always more a casual observer of Taco Bell culture, never indulging in the famous "fourth meal" but always standing behind the concept, and now I feel as though I might be a convert of Taco Bell's customers at the very least. Rick is so impassioned in his comments, I honestly feel like I might want to share a tray of chalupas with him. And then Angelique and Tiffany both clearly feel so badly for Danielle, whom they treat as though she just doesn't know any better, like she's a foreigner who just traveled to a distant land, or a clueless teen mom who knows more about One Direction than she does about changing pads.
I appreciate the way customers of a bean-y, fart-inducing restaurant still care about upholding some modicum of civilized behavior. They may eat "Volcano Quesaritos" made of hydrogenated slop that's masked as fresh food, but they know when something smells a little too putrid for the public's taste. Changing your baby on a Taco Bell table crosses a line of acceptability too foul for fans of "7-Layer Burritos" to stomach. Posting about it on Facebook only serves to make you look worse.