Richard Moore: Delicacy in dealing with diners

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Call me mad, or call me silly, but I have never once considered doing a runner from a restaurant.

To me it is straight out theft and from businesses that can little afford to lose money, particularly at the moment.

But Munching and Marching or Dining and Dashing has become so endemic that many restaurateurs around the country are demanding pre-payment or that customers leave their credit cards at the counter before they eat.

A Restaurant Association survey found almost 20 per cent of their respondents had been victims of runners.

Of those the majority said they had been ripped off up to five times a month. One restaurant had been caught out 10 times.

With margins being eaten into faster than Gerry Brownlee going through a box of brandy snaps, restaurant owners have had to act and this is not sitting well with diners.

Being asked for your credit card or paying before the meal detracts from a great night out. Wending your way through the menu and wine list and finding something interesting to try is an adventure in anticipation.

It's about picking the right food for the moment and that can very often change between entering the door and closing the menu.

Paying for it up front is so cafeteria or food court-like it ruins the ambience.

Diners also object to being seen - and treated - as a potential thief.

As one of the stupid-enough people who pay their way through life, but not being so terminally stupid as to nick stuff, I really hate the idea of being a suspect.

It isn't a legal thing, just an arrogance thing.

Being a photographer, I have my camera bag with me a lot and, if shopping, will go into stores with it over my shoulder. It isn't there to put contraband in, it's there so it won't be stolen from my car.

In movie theatres I have been asked to hand it over because I could videotape the movie and pirate it! Guys, I don't pay lots of money to go into a movie to film it ... I go to blinking well watch it!

And don't get me started on airport security who treat everyone - including very pink formerly blond Aussies - as if we are jihadist terrorists wanting to blow the plane we're sitting in out of the sky.

Come on fellas ...

Anyway, I don't envy restaurateurs dealing with this, but they do need to do it delicately.

Now there can be a funny side to doing a runner as two guys in their 20s discovered when filming their perfect crime.

They had just finished their coffees and decided they'd get the buzz not only from caffeine but from leaving the cafe without paying.

With video cam in hand they got ready, surveyed the scene for possible opposition, leapt up and sprinted off.

Out the door they flew, through the mall they raced until they came to the exit doors where they congratulated themselves on a sneaky bit of thievery well done.

"Dude, that was excellent."

"Yeah dude so much fun. That was our first runner and we got away with it."

The appearance of a security guard gave them a few moments of worry but then it was back to the adrenaline rush until one of the bright sparks said to the other: "Hey dude, we paid for the coffees at the beginning."

"Oh yeah," realised the other.

THERE are some very silly people who roam out in country areas with guns and possibly none sillier than Steven Egan of Florida, USA.

Egan was out hunting wild boar in northern Florida when he thought he heard a giant piggy around the area.

With testosterone raging, he picked up his rifle, kissed his gal goodbye and set off with roast pork on his mind.

In the meantime his partner left the tent to go and pick some oranges.

You can see where this is going can't you?

You'd be right, old Steve mistook his beloved for the hog - how he will explain that is anyone's guess - fired at her and put a .30 bullet through both of her legs.

She was badly hurt and airlifted to hospital for surgery.

Egan isn't facing charges because police say he was very upset he'd shot his woman.

I'd have thought they'd have taken him into protective custody because once she's out she going to be hopping, er limping, mad.

richard@richardmoore.com

- Bay of Plenty Times

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