Are you tired of hearing people yapping on their cellphones when you’re out for a meal?

Well, restaurants are coming up with ways to make the dining experience cell-free for annoyed customers irritated by fellow diners’ loudmouth phone conversations.

I love the tactic Eva Restaurant in Los Angeles is trying. Diners get a 5 percent discount if they agree to ditch their cellphones at the door, Erin Kim of CNN reports.

The policy has been popular. The restaurant’s chef, Mark Gold, estimates that 40 percent to 50 percent of patrons opt for the discount.

On the other hand, I definitely appreciate the exasperation that must have prompted a Vermont deli to impose a surcharge for customers who talk on their cellphones while ordering their food.

According to a report by the Consumerist, the deli’s handwritten sign says: “$3 will be added to your total if you fail to GET OFF YOUR PHONE while at the counter. It’s rude.”

Don’t you hate it when people hold up the checkout line because they’re distracted on their cellphones? I actually saw a customer hold up her hand to signal a cashier to wait while she finished a conversation.

Get out of the line!

At a deli in Chicago, patrons are being told to hang up their phone or get out. “The use of cellular phones at Perry’s is strictly prohibited,” the deli warns. “If you are that important that you must use your phone, you should be eating in a much more upscale restaurant.”

This week’s Color of Money Question: What do you think of efforts to discourage cellphone use in public places? Send your responses to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Be sure to include your full name, city and state. Put “Drop Your Cell, Get A Discount” in the subject line.

The Bratty Bunch

There’s been much discussion and there have been many surveys maligning Generation Y, or the Millennials -- defined as those born between 1982 and 1999 – for being too spoiled, too reluctant to leave the nest or too self-confident.

This group of young adults will make up 75 percent of the American workforce by 2025. But perhaps some of the demands from these folks will help create better workplaces says Washington Post contributor Emily Matchar.

“Through their sense of entitlement and inflated self-esteem, they’ll make the modern workplace adapt to them,” Matchar writes in a piece for The Post’s Outlook section. “And we should thank them for it. Because the modern workplace frankly stinks, and the changes wrought by Gen Y will be good for everybody.”

Think about this, Matchar writes:

— Americans spend more time at the office than citizens of most other developed nations. Annually, we work 408 hours more than the Dutch, 374 hours more than the Germans and 311 hours more than the French.

— Americans even work 59 hours more than the stereotypically nose-to-the-grindstone Japanese.

— Though women make up half of the American workforce, the United States is the only country in the developed world without guaranteed paid maternity leave.

“All this hard work is done for less and less reward,” she says. “Wages have been stagnant for years, benefits shorn, opportunities for advancement blocked. While the richest Americans get richer, middle-class workers are left to do more with less.”

Matchar points to an MTV survey of about 500 Millennials, called “No Collar Workers,” that found:

— 81 percent said they should be able to set their own hours.

— 70 percent said they need “me time” on the job (compared with 39 percent of baby boomers).

— 90 percent think they deserve their “dream job.”

“So we could continue to roll our eyes at Gen Y, accuse them of being spoiled and entitled and clueless little brats,” Matchar writes. “We could wish that they’d get taken down a peg by the ‘school of hard knocks’ and learn to accept that this is just the way things are. But if we’re smart, we’ll cheer them on. Be selfish, Gen Y! Be entitled! Demand what you want. Because we want it, too.”

What do you think?

Send your comments to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Be sure to include your full name, city and state. Put “The Bratty Bunch” in the subject line.

College Money Concerns

In a recent column, Janet Bodnar, editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, offered some do’s and don’ts for college students:

-- Stay on top of your student loans. “Even if you don’t set up an amortization schedule, at least figure out how much it will cost you to repay the loans based on the starting salary you expect to make,” Bodnar says.

-- No credit cards for you. The International Journal of Business and Social Science found that 90 percent of student cardholders carried a balance from month to month, and fewer than 10 percent knew their card’s interest rate or what they would be charged if they made payments late or went over their limit.

-- Save now. Take your money from your summer job and open a savings account or a Roth IRA.

Shop to Cope

Shopping magazine Lucky has launched an advertising campaign called “Fill the Void” that encourages shoppers to get over life’s problems by … shopping.

Here are some of the advertising slogans:

-- “My boyfriend dumped me via text.”

-- “My longest relationship is with my doorman.”

-- “My intern is the only one following me on Twitter.”

For last week’s Color of Money Question, I asked: “Do you find Lucky’s campaign a funny take on shopping as a coping mechanism?”

“I find the ‘Fill the Void’ campaign to be repugnant; not at all funny,” wrote Lorna Gilkey of Alexandria, Va. “We live in a society that disrespects fat people while encouraging them to overeat, and now we want to promote depression, loneliness and heavier debt by encouraging people to be irresponsible and wallow in misery by spending money they don’t have on things they don’t need. And we call that fun? How about we promote prayer and counseling as coping mechanisms? When we are mentally and emotionally healthier, we make better financial decisions and that is fun! This new campaign won’t fill a void; it will create bigger ones.”

James Schafer of Iowa City said: “I think the campaign is great. It’s funny for those smart enough to get it, and at least it is transparent and honest about the ploy it is using.”

Martha Britton of Washington, D.C., says that anyone who has gone through a period of shopping as a way to cope with the unhappy side of life will certainly not find the campaign funny.

“I worked for a woman who embezzled millions of dollars for a long-term shopping spree,” Britton wrote. “She was a powerful woman in business but was restless and discontent with her personal life. She ultimately spent nine years in prison. I personally fell into the need for quick gratification by shopping and overindulgence that lasted over six years, and I ended up $40,000 in credit card debt. I am happy to say I’m halfway through repayment of the debt, and it certainly was not worth it. Anyone who goes this route will be entrapped, not empowered.”

Tia Lewis contributed to this report.

You are welcome to e-mail comments and questions to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Please include your name and hometown; your comments may be used in a future column or newsletter unless otherwise requested.

 
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