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Solution to get food then take a seat vrs reverse order

  • w

In shops without a posted policy and limited seating whats the best.
What would be the fairest rules to post for a restautant

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  1. Depends. Do you have a jacket or a purse?

    Put either down on the seat and get your food.

    If you have neither, pay your nickel and take your choice.

    14 Replies
    1. re: dolores

      dolores, maybe I'm reading wew wrong, but it seems like they are asking about the propriety of folks coming in, claiming a table and then going to get food. Those that line up for food then end up finding tables with no one eating at them, but that have belongings left there to stake a claim.

      1. re: Servorg

        The marker system works best if people agree with it. At lots of places I go someone will sit at a marked table presenting the marker leaver with a nasty surprise. I have watched this happen when one of a party of two is seated as the marker. Yes, nyc

        1. re: wew

          Yes, exactly, it is fine to leave one's belongings at a table if one is planning to go back to that table to eat.

          Why not? Finders keepers, and all that jazz. People here do it all the time.

          >>someone will sit at a marked table presenting the marker leaver with a nasty surprise

          How rude. Same as holding seats in a movie theater. It's done all the time.

          Heck, I've been in grocery lines where someone is holding a space with no items, waiting for someone to come to the place being held with 13 items in a 10 only line.

          It's a tough world.

          1. re: dolores

            I can't imagine "marking" a table with my jacket then going to get food, whether in a cafeteria dining area or a movie theatre. Chairs are for sitting in, coat racks are for coats.

            People leave 10% tips for great service all the time. Does that make it acceptable?

            I would never have the balls to move someone's "mark," though. I would be too afraid it would be someone with a mobility disability.

            1. re: miss_bennet

              Acceptable, yup. Done all the time here. A person gets there early, marks the chair, gets the food, and eats the food at the marked chair and leaves in a timely manner.

              Only the strong survive in this town.

              Not comparable to a 10% tip.

              1. re: dolores

                Note: "marking" your seat is acceptable in New York. It's rude in BC.

                So I guess it depends where you are.

                1. re: miss_bennet

                  I guess it does. Here, you snooze, you lose.

                  1. re: miss_bennet

                    "Note: "marking" your seat is acceptable in New York. It's rude in BC."

                    I would hazard to guess that it's acceptable in most of the US. Here in Phoenix, you will never get in to see a movie and also be able to buy snacks if you don't mark your seat. We also mark tables at places where you get the food yourself. Very common. Never thought of it as rude; just planning ahead.

                    1. re: Jen76

                      I don't know if it's a commonly held opinion or not but I get really annoyed when one lone person leaves a marker at an optimal table in my favourite coffee shop THEN gets in line WELL BEHIND ME tho order his drink. Movie theaters are another matter. It's normal and acceptable to me to mark your seats then get snacks. If a PERSON is the marker at the coffee shop, I have no qualms. I also live in Vancouver, BC, where the line-up is often religiously respected.

                    2. re: miss_bennet

                      Just attended a workshop where the presenter said, here in California you'd ask people, "how can I help you?" In NYC where I am from, we ask, "What do you want?"

                      Yep different cities or regions, different rules.

                2. re: dolores

                  Fist fight on checkout 4 the day I see that. Tough world indeed. The grocery store thing I mean.

                  1. re: elgordoboy

                    I know. The one or two times I've announced to the line or to the checkout person the exact number the offending person had -- I was ignored.

                    So I don't bother anymore.

              2. re: Servorg

                one of my favorite restaurants, 800 degrees, has a policy of not permitting customers to bogart a table until they have their food.

                it works for me.
                when the customers were allowed to stake out tables before they had their food in hand there was a chronic shortage of tables.

              3. re: dolores

                The *last* thing I'd leave at a table as a marker is a purse. :-/

              4. At a small crepe shop here they have sign posted, do not sit down until you've ordered. On the weekends there's always a line but it actually works out well. The seem to time the crepe making process just right so you're never left standing waiting for a seat after you've ordered. Thankfully when people choose to ignore the sign the owner comes out and informs people of the policy.

                1. I have put a lot of thought into this ... mostly while waiting in line at the
                  popular SF bakery/cafe Tartine.

                  I think this is pretty situational ... I dunno if you can come up with a
                  answer in theory, or even a framework. Sometimes the line at tartine is 5
                  people and there are plenty of seats but it would be nice to get a table
                  instead of a spot at the communal table, or linger by the Coffee Personalization
                  Space [there is a "runner" at elbow high] ... anyway in that case, i think
                  the jacket/backpack reservation policy isnt that unreasonable. sort of a
                  fortune favors the bold eagle eye thing.

                  in the extreme case where 100% of the seats are taken and there is a 20min line,
                  this is obviously absurd and totally indefensible. i suspect not too many people
                  would hold a table by force of luggage or clothing alone, but you actually need to
                  do a division of labor ... one person standing in line and one person
                  hovering to sweep in on a table. i think having one of your group
                  sit at a table to hold it 15min before you get your food is pretty leem
                  but i am not sure what you do about that ... what do you do when you
                  are looking for parking in a difficult to park area and a parking spot has
                  somebody standing there "holding" the parking spot for his friend
                  with a car 1-2min away? ideally the establishment polices this kind
                  of preemptive squatting but that's begging the question.

                  in the middle case where there is a little bit of a wait ... i dunno ...
                  again i think situational factors dominate. certainly many. many times
                  i've been the chump when i waited in line with no landing spot, get my
                  food and stand to one side keeping an eye open, but miss out a newly
                  opening spot to the designated table hunter for a still-waiting-in-line party,
                  since they are unemcumbered with a backpack, newspaper, laptop, lattle
                  and croissant and thus have greater mobility.

                  i think the existence of other options affects how you think about this ...
                  are there comunal tables, standing room at a bar? outside tables?
                  other places to walk sit and eat down the block?].

                  BTW, the one slightly related thing that drives me insane is
                  when people auto-bus their stuff at a very crowded cafe where
                  somebody is clearly going to sit down at your table the second
                  you leave. you dont have to wipe the table of all your crumbs
                  but you could at least throw away your damned used napkins
                  and bus your used cups, saucers and silverware. i elide the
                  rest of my rant on "tartine and the failure of of the communism".

                  ok tnx.

                  1. I find claiming a table before you've ordered to be incredibly selfish; it would be like going to the grocery store and claiming a set of plastic bags in the checkout as "yours" even though there's still people in front of you in line. While you may be satisfied with yourself, it gums up the works for everyone else. If nobody tries to claim a table before they've ordered, then the average table turnover time drops, and people will be able to get a seat shortly after they've ordered instead of having to glare menacingly at the people who swoop in. I've been at places before where I've received my food and had nowhere to sit because there were five tables full of people who haven't even ordered yet. It's just the same as when the line is out the door at a quick-service place and people linger. If you aren't actually *using* the table, get out of the way so that people who need the table right now can use it.

                    Is this really common in New York? I just noticed that the only two people in the thread who condone such a thing are regulars on NYC boards. Remind me not to visit if such rudeness is commonplace.

                    17 Replies
                    1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                      is it any different than 'marking' your table by having someone sit at it? That is typically what I will do if not alone: we find a table, we sit down, one person goes and orders....

                      otherwise, I am having to stand during the ordering and preparation process. If it really takes 15 minutes to make the food, it isn't acceptable for me to stand for that much time. Moreover, if it only takes a minute or two to order, will it really make that much difference if I sit? or are you suggesting that I stand around until the food actually arrives? And what happens if they give me a drink right away and a number to be placed on my table for the food to be brought to? Is it THEN rude to sit at a table? So, how long should ordering take, anyway? Does it matter if I am disabled? (and the problem there, of course, is that you can't always tell by looking at me whether or not I am disabled: should I need to wear a sign saying, "I am not trying to be rude, but I really need to sit down and not stand"?)

                      I think that claiming a table before you order can make just as much sense as the alernative. If everyone claimed a table before ordering there wouldn't be the stress of wondering if a table will become available before the food.

                      1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                        Rude? It's just life. This is NY and that's the way it is.

                        1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                          I "mark" my seat all the time...and I am NOT from New York...If I'm with a group, I'll do what Susan describes .assign someone to grab a table. In fact, that's my usual m.o. at Vik's in Berkeley.....where tables are always at a premium. But there you order your food, and they call your name when ready..so it makes sense to sit down in the meantime..ESPECIALLY since not all the food comes out at once, as it is prepared fresh. In fact, that's a VERY GOOD argument for marking your seat...what if your food isn't all ready at once...you might as well be seated and enjoy what you can when you can....

                          1. re: janetofreno

                            I find it strange how so many people are worried that a table will never open up again when they go to a busy quick-service place. As I'd said before, if people *stopped* marking tables, then the average table turnover time goes down and as a result, tables would be open up sooner than if people create a bottleneck by sitting and waiting at a table before the order has been placed.

                            1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                              I agree with the logic that the turnover time will be shorter if people *don't* mark tables....but when others are already doing it, you're doing yourself a disfavor if you don't follow along. I think human markers are much more "acceptable" though. The place I see this done in my experience is at ski resort lunch places on the mountain, which are often extremely crowded at lunch. The first year we didn't "mark" and ended up eating our lunch sitting on the floor in our ski boots. Never again. Now we use a human marker (me) and everyone else gets the food. I admit I'd feel kind of guilty using hats and gloves to mark instead of a human. I think at the ski places some people even mark the table with their lunch cooler *in the morning*. Now that takes nerve!

                            2. re: janetofreno

                              Funny, I have no problem getting in to see the movie... I get there earlier, casually wait in the queue for refreshments, and then stroll into the nearly empty theatre and relax. Where are you going where they overbook the theatre so you can't get into the movie if you wait in line to get refreshments?

                              It may be strategic, but it is quite selfish. Let someone who needs the table sooner than you do have it first. It's good karma.

                            3. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                              Hah I'm from NYC and I would never leave anything I valued unattended!

                              1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

                                That's one of the reasons I'm so surprised how many people seem to do this!

                                1. re: miss_bennet

                                  I want to clarify my earlier post. I have never marked a seat at a theater or at a restaurant with only my belongings. I would not leave my things unattended. But often, someone (often myself) will sit at the table or hold the seats at the theater while others get the food/drinks/etc. I don't particularly have an opinion about whether marking is rude or not. I guess I don't eat at that many restaurants like that and when I do, I go at off times.

                                  And to JK Grence, we only go to see the movies that we deem worth spending $10.50 per on tickets - usually the special FX blockbusters which we go see with groups of friends. Otherwise, we wait for the DVD and watch at home on the big screen sans seat kickers. Honestly, I can't remember the last time I saw an empty theater. Many times, they are sold out or down to front row seats only. I have sat in those and it's not fun.

                                  1. re: Jen76

                                    We also only go to big FX movies in theatre, but always wait until after opening weekend. That way we aren't dealing with overcrowded theatres.

                                2. re: SomeRandomIdiot

                                  Me too. And I really don't see too many people marking their tables with inanimate objects. They only do it with people.

                                  1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

                                    SomeRandomIdiot, it's done in Westchester all the time. It makes perfect sense.

                                    1. re: dolores

                                      I guess I'm used to everything and anything being stolen everywhere.

                                      1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

                                        SomeRandomIdiot, even a jacket on the back of a chair? That's the recognizable symbol in pizza places and such that a seat is being held.

                                        1. re: dolores

                                          Back in college, at the library, people used to hang their jacket on the back of the chair, take one of those long metal cable locks and run it through the sleeves, looping it around the seatback and chair legs. The inventive ones got their backpacks thoroughly secured in those loops too.

                                          I don't think people see it as a marker, it's just something you've made easy for them to steal.

                                          1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

                                            Realllly? Wow. I've never seen that happen here, and have never had it happen to me.

                                            Granted, I wouldn't leave my purse as a marker, but I have no trepidation in leaving my jacket.

                                        2. re: SomeRandomIdiot

                                          i would never steal someones stuff but i have been tempted to "accidentally" spill something on an unattended coat/bag. ive never done it, but ive been tempted,....

                                  2. jfood thinks you need to separate the movie theatre and resto discussions, since they are totally different.

                                    Easy one first - marking a seat at the movies does not effect the starting time or finish time for others since the movie will start at 7 and end at 9 and everyone leaves at nine irrespective of their seat, whether they went to the popcorn stand first or whether someone marked 4 seats first. So noone suffers if the first comer takes "possession" of a group of seats and then gets popcorn. Hey they were there first, their call.

                                    Resto - Yes, just like the Visa commercial, the flow will be better if the people go in line, buy their food and then go to the table. And from a queuing theory point of view not marking a table allows the people with the food to sit and eat while the "in line people" are still ordering and creates a better flow. But another theory, supply and demand, comes into play as well in this setting. There are just so many seats and so many eaters. When the eaters outnumber the seats, then there is the issue of markers being viewed as unfair, since there is a table with someone sitting holding a couple of coats with no food, while the person with the food is standing and staring.

                                    For jfood, there are so many other failures in the queuing theory approach that he believes the supply and demand takes precedent. In jfood's experience the marking of tables is almost SOP for everywhere he has eaten and it honestly took him the reading of several posts on this thread for him to understand that this take and wait was not in all 50 states.

                                    1. This is one of my biggest pet peeves. I feel this behaviour is rude and unacceptable. I don't care where it happens, I feel it is impolite to occupy a table with mere belongings (coats, bags) when you have not placed an order. The fact that other people are marking tables this way does not justify anyone else doing it. Perpetuating a vicious circle is still vicious.

                                      I think that from now on, if I see a bag and/or coat on a chair or table I want to eat at, I am going to grab the items, and take them to the nearest employee. "I think someone left this behind. Do you have a lost and found?" Because to me, the only valid reason coats etc are at a table with nothing else is because they were forgotten.

                                      23 Replies
                                      1. re: miss_bennet

                                        >I think that from now on, if I see a bag and/or coat on a chair or table
                                        >I weant to eat at ...
                                        i hope you do this and let us know how it goes. Seriously.

                                        In general I wish more people paid costs for freeriding and other
                                        antisocial and barbaric behaviors [e.g. see threads on lame RSVPers],
                                        but somehow having standards for stuff like this has become conflated
                                        with intolerance, being judgemental etc ... hypocrisy or arbitrariness
                                        isn't good, but being judgmental isnt ipso facto bad.

                                        So let us know how it goes, please.

                                          1. re: psb

                                            I'm sorry. I have no idea what you mean.

                                          2. re: miss_bennet

                                            Granted you may feel this behavior is unacceptable but the restaurant may not feel likewise. Instead of unilaterally deciding that your way is the correct way (and it appears it may be the subject of some disagreement) why not approach the management and see if they object, since it is their restaurant. They may see the marking as perfectly acceptable. Then if not, it's the management that can remove the items.

                                            Jfood is not into vigilantism, which this solution basically entails. Since jfood does not drink liquor how would you feel if a cocktail is delivered to your table and jfood sitting next to you grabs it and throws it on the floor and proclaims drinking is not acceptable. Absolutely childish on jfood's part but is sorta in the same realm.

                                            1. re: jfood

                                              Maybe some cafe owners can reply to this. That said, do you seriously think that many owners/managers would have the guts to remove the items? Given the number of people who find this abhorrent-to-me behaviour acceptable, we would without a doubt hear cries of "The manager at such and such a place wouldn't let me save a table with my bag (thus preventing anyone else from using it)!"

                                              I did not unilaterally say that my way was the correct way. I said the other way, whether correct or not, is rude to me. I just want everyone to know that there are some people who find "marking" tables with personal belongings rude so they may think twice next time. Because maybe there's someone waiting in line on crutches, with a walker, or who's eight months pregnant. And then wouldn't you be embarrassed if your jacket was at the lone empty table.

                                              1. re: miss_bennet

                                                to be fair, you posted that you would "steal" the garments under the premise of "lost and found"? Boy is Jfood glad that you have now seen the error of your ways, thank you.

                                                The more likely scenario is that the jfoods would give up their space in line, go help the deserving people with their food, bring them to the table and then go back in line. It has happened a number of times and not once have the young wippersnappers in line who witnessed this act of generosity have ever told the jfoods to go back to their original spots.

                                                Live and learn.

                                                1. re: jfood

                                                  I did not say steal. I said I would take the garment to the nearest employee, as a jacket left alone at a table must be left behind. There is no error to my way for me to see.

                                                  1. re: miss_bennet

                                                    Please. You do not like something someone has done even though there is a difference of opinion, you take their possessions?

                                                    When you grab someone else's possessions and the person in line says, "Excuse me, those are my bags and coat. Please put them down." what do you do or say? "excuse me" or do you get in a confrontation.

                                                    Now while you are taking the garbs you are also causing others in line to wait for the delta of bringing the garbs to an employee.

                                                    Jfood does not believe that customers should be the police, they are the customers. If they do not like something another customer is doing, bring it to the attention of the owners. Righteous indignation sometimes leads to embarassing confrontations.

                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                      I'm more than willing to pay that "time delta" for the
                                                      entertainment value of this. I am 100% serious.

                                                      The a problem with a number of these scenarios is
                                                      one cannot easily know whether the perp is engaging
                                                      in "coping"/"non-chump" behavior or "beyond the pale"
                                                      behavior. Saving a seat in a movie theather for your associate
                                                      getting popcorn or in the bathroom is ok, but saving 6 seats
                                                      in prime location opening night when you arent sure if 4 or
                                                      6 friends are going to show is kinda lame.

                                                      A friend of mine went to a bar/resto in SF with maybe 10-12
                                                      seats at the bar. A woman claimed she was "saving" ~6 of
                                                      those for friends. My friend [party of 2?] avoided confrontation ...
                                                      dont remember if she wanted for a table in the bar area or left.
                                                      Anyway, I would have probably asked if they were within a block
                                                      of here or not and if not, just sat down ... sure, I suppose you could
                                                      go whine to the hostness, but I dont know if I would have done

                                                      Again, as i said in my first comment on this thread, I assure you
                                                      these cases are incredibly situational and the pratical outcomes
                                                      turn on variables that dont affect the moral claims ... is the
                                                      overclaimer wearing a Hells Angels jacket? Or is the space
                                                      verbally claimed or physically marked? It might be trickier to
                                                      have just sat down at the bar or the movie if it involved moving
                                                      a coat somebody put across three seats rather than just verbally
                                                      protested [fortune favors the prepared overclaimer]. And there
                                                      clearly is no hard and fast rule about how many seats somebody
                                                      is allowed to hold ... although i think you implicitly start assuming
                                                      you are not in the "friend in the bathroom" category and are rather
                                                      in the "overclaiming" category as N seats goe from 1 to infinity.
                                                      Lockean Proviso again etc.

                                                      I do agree a restuarant space usually is more "managed" by an
                                                      authority than some other circumstances ... but it's also true
                                                      than sometimes the employees are not in a good position to
                                                      piss off a customer.

                                                      But there are also incidents in "non-managed" spaces ...
                                                      in SF i've seen people "holding" parking spots by people
                                                      standing in them.

                                                      At some concerts it is perfectly acceptable to stand in your seating
                                                      area ... to dance, see better, jump up and downetc. At other shows,
                                                      it is not done ... there dont seem to be hard and fast rules about this.
                                                      If 90% of the crowd is standing, I dont think you can do anything about
                                                      this ... but if nobody else is standing except the block of people in front
                                                      of you [this happened to me], you can ask them to sit down ... I wont
                                                      tell you what i did when the person refused. But appealing to management
                                                      isnt an option.

                                                      There is also the line cutting problem at a crowded gas station ...
                                                      although there i think it's somewhat unclear what the norms are,
                                                      whether flowing from queing theory or not. nevertheless, you do
                                                      witness behavior here that's clearly over the line.

                                                      Would you say something if the person in front of you in the
                                                      express line with a 12item limit has 13? or 20? again, as the
                                                      excess increases this goes from acceptable/trivial error to
                                                      assholish. Would you hope the checker boots the person out?

                                                      1. re: psb


                                                        always enjoy the posts.

                                                        Para 1 - agree fully, jfood would lean back in his seat and say "cool." Oh boy a side show with lunch.
                                                        Para 2 - agree. jfood has this discussion with mrs jfood about people who tell them to hold a couple of seats at the movies. At some point (again discretionary) as the percentage of occupied seats approach 100% the likelihood of jfood maintaining the hold decreases exponentially.
                                                        Para 3 - Depending on the day at the office, the location and jfood's general demeanor at the time, he would probably ignore it. But there may be an instance when those factors formed the perfect storm and he would say screw it and just sit down and let the chips fall (hey, jfood's trying to be honest)
                                                        Para 4 - Agree, and the slope of the line increases at 2x to the third power
                                                        Para 5 - more likely is the "manager" will try to help the griping patron a seat elswhere
                                                        Para 6 - jfood would rather stand behind a 20 item person in an express lane who has already slid the credit card through the swiper versus the person with 8 items that watches each price, then opens the pocketbook, then searches for the checkbook, then asks for a pen, then writes the name of the store, then asks if it is OK to write for $10 more, then asks how much and squints at the register, then performs basic math on the check ($22.39 + 10.00 = 32.39), then goes to the check register (flipping to find the end of the sequence), then writes the 32.39 and start the subtraction, THEN goes back and rips out the check to hand to the registrar, then gets the receipt, then looks at the receipt to make sure there are no mistakes, then questions the All-Bran price, then agrees and places the receipt in the checkbook, then places the checkbook back in the pocketbook, then closes the pocketbook, then places the pocketbook into the child seat part of the cart, and then vacates. Meantime four patrons with 20+ items at the non-Express lanes are back in their cars.

                                                        1. re: psb

                                                          >>I do agree a restuarant space usually is more "managed" by an authority than some other circumstances ... but it's also true than sometimes the employees are not in a good position to piss off a customer.

                                                          Good point. Since seat holding in a pizza joint or similar quickie food place is BAU here, I will continue to do it. Let others confront the evil deed doers.

                                                          Your other points, also good.

                                                          Holding seats in movie theaters -- more subject to possible violence, so I won't do it. And I won't confront those doing it.

                                                          Parking spots -- same as above.

                                                          Standing to dance in a theater -- again, quite agree. I liken it to the old days as shown in cartoons when a woman wore a giant hat in a theater. But I do love getting jiggy in a theater or concert venue.

                                                          Cutting at a gas station -- see above violence comment. Don't even think about challenging them here.

                                                          On the express line miscreant? Yes, I tried it when faced with one of these clods. Got vacant stares. Never bothered again.

                                                          Good post.

                                                        2. re: jfood

                                                          >>Please. You do not like something someone has done even though there is a difference of opinion, you take their possessions?

                                                          jfood is quite correct. This would not fly in this area.

                                                          1. re: dolores

                                                            i find it hard to believe these norms exist at the area code or state
                                                            level and not by venue. i dont think there is a norm across
                                                            san francisco. the "seat saving" equillibrium at say Ritual Roaster's
                                                            cafe in SF is different from Tartine when it is crowded ... and we're
                                                            talking about places 6blocks apart.

                                                            In fact I'd even say the expectations about what is reasonable
                                                            is different at different times at the same venue.

                                                            I havent lived somewhere where a lot of people carry guns ...
                                                            I'm mostly talking about affulent urban areas, gunless suburbia
                                                            etc. so no Arma Virumque Cano for me.

                                                            1. re: psb

                                                              >>i find it hard to believe these norms exist at the area code or state level and not by venue.

                                                              psb, I wasn't saying they do. I was only sharing what happens here and what I will continue to do.

                                                              Your post on venue was spot on.

                                                              >>gunless suburbia

                                                              One never knows, do one?

                                                          2. re: jfood

                                                            "Please. You do not like something someone has done even though there is a difference of opinion, you take their possessions?"
                                                            I cannot understand this sentence. Is it missing a conjunction?

                                                            "When you grab someone else's possessions and the person in line says, "Excuse me, those are my bags and coat. Please put them down." what do you do or say?"
                                                            If that occured, I would bring them their belongings, merely say "Oh! Here you are!" and return to the table, with my food, and enjoy.

                                                            "Jfood does not believe that customers should be the police, they are the customers. If they do not like something another customer is doing, bring it to the attention of the owners."
                                                            Having worked in a couple of places with this set-up, I can assure you that in no way will a customer's "mark" be removed from a table unless the place of business has expressly made their policy against "marking" clear. All the poor employee can really do is shrug and apologize for the "marker's" inconsiderate behaviour.
                                                            The worst case was in a movie theatre, when it was quite full, and someone's jacket was on the seat next to the wheelchair spot. When teh man returned to the theatre, and found his jacket moved by the companion of someone in a wheelchair, he was livid and came out yelling and screaming. He was asked to leave. He wrote a letter, and we got our hands slapped. "There is no reserved seating in the auditorium."

                                                            So no. You may not feel the need to "police" bad customer behaviour, but after being the helpless employee for years, if I see it as a customer, I WILL put a stop to it.

                                                            wew, in closing, please get your food/place your order THEN get your seat. The seat isn't yours until you've paid.

                                                            1. re: miss_bennet

                                                              Yes, so you've said. Let us know how it goes when you implement this procedure.

                                                              1. re: miss_bennet

                                                                "Please. You do not like something someone has done even though there is a difference of opinion, you take their possessions?".

                                                                You're right, pretty bad sentence structure, so let's try again.

                                                                You feel justified in removing someone else's belongings from a chair because you disagree with the concept of marking, even though it is not necessarily the opinion of 100% of the population.

                                                                Hope that helps.

                                                                Now onto the topic. It appears that you and jfood will agree to disagree but as the thread progressed more nuances appeared in your responses that actually bring us closer.

                                                                "I can assure you that in no way will a customer's "mark" be removed from a table unless the place of business has expressly made their policy against "marking" clear." That is exactly jfood's point. If the resto has a policy against it then it should not occur. But absent such policy, it could be SOP and jfood would mark unless management tells him otherwise.

                                                                The handicap spot. Anyone who sits in a handicapped seat or the one next to it should immediately be evicted and if they put up a fuss, they should also be asked not to return in the future. People you are no longer welcome. Question though, who is "we" inthe last sentence?

                                                                And if you would like to "police" in your off-hours, be jfood's guest, but understand that old lady might be more dangerous than the Hell's Angel biker mentioned above.

                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                  Your "old lady" comment at the end [which i dont think i agree
                                                                  with] reminded me of one of the greatest failures of queuing
                                                                  theory and "civilized norms" ... Lineless DEEM SUM counter
                                                                  protocol. There are some togo DEEM SUM places where you
                                                                  must take a step into rudeness otherwise you will never(*) get
                                                                  served ... the staff has no interest in first come first served etc ...
                                                                  you pretty much have to assert yourself [physically push people]
                                                                  even if they are old ladies ... Inplaces like this I dont push my
                                                                  way to the front of thr mob right away, but you do needs to be
                                                                  somewhat aggressively defensive, e.g. keep certain persons
                                                                  from running under your elbows in front of you, move in front
                                                                  of them if they start shouting their orders from behind you etc.

                                                                  (*) I'm ok with ServiceTime_psb being 1.5 ServiceTime_rude,
                                                                  but ServiceTime_chump/angel might be 3-4x the mean time.

                                                                  1. re: psb

                                                                    That's sort of the "rule" for those places though, and part of the fun. If you want service in a reasonable amount of time you have to speak up and box out the people that belong behind you. I don't that its a failure of queueing since there's no interest by those places in setting up a queue.

                                                    2. re: miss_bennet

                                                      "I think that from now on, if I see a bag and/or coat on a chair or table I want to eat at, I am going to grab the items, and take them to the nearest employee. "I think someone left this behind. Do you have a lost and found?" Because to me, the only valid reason coats etc are at a table with nothing else is because they were forgotten."

                                                      Before you do, better look around and make sure there is no one in line with crutches or a walker, or no one in 8 months pregnant, or you will be quite embarrassed (at least, i hope you would be). Also keep in mind there may be people who aren't obviously ill, but may be. Someone may have had chemotherapy recently but not yet lost their hair, or someone could have a bad back.

                                                      I totally understand your frustration, and I would agree that most people have no reason to occupy a table in this manner. But you never know, so just be cautious.

                                                      1. re: moh

                                                        "Before you do, better look around and make sure there is no one in line with crutches or a walker, or no one in 8 months pregnant,"
                                                        Naturally, you are right, but I think that in most cases, people in these conditions will have someone to help them, and they will already be at the table.

                                                        1. re: miss_bennet

                                                          "but I think that in most cases, people in these conditions will have someone to help them"

                                                          Miss Bennet, I wish you were right. But I see an awful lot of patients who don't seem to have anyone at a very difficult time of their life. And even people who have a lot of support have times when they are alone. As someone put it, "everyone is fighting their own personal battle" but sometimes we can't see it. A little bit of understanding and kindness goes a long way for all involved. (for example, I've been trying not to get upset with other drivers when driving. I don't know why they cut me off, but maybe they are really late to pick up a kid from daycare, or maybe they are taking care of a crisis. Heck, even if they are just aggressive drivers, by not getting upset with their actions, I find I am a happier person for it. Road rage sucks).

                                                          I thought you made an excellent point about the possibility that by marking a table, one might make it more difficult for someone waiting in line with crutches etc. who then has to wait for a table. And I certainly understand why you find the practice rude. I tend to agree that it doesn't seem practical to take up a seat when you are waiting in line and someone else is ready to eat.

                                                          Anyways, it's a good discussion! It's nice to be able to work out difficult situations before you encounter them again.

                                                      2. re: miss_bennet

                                                        that's what i do (either turn it in to the staff or pile it by the door). i've had a few people get pretty irate over me moving their stuff, but when i've offered to step outside with them and explain to them how their behaviour is rude & inconsiderate, it's suddenly become a nonissue. i'll add that i'm a good-sized guy with a really good mean face; might not work so well for others.

                                                      3. seems to me that I would look around and see what the custom is at that particular place. I know of places where it is perfectly acceptable (by long standing custom) to 'mark' your seats. I know of other places where it would be considered rude to do so. Personally I would have a hard time marking a seat if there were people standing there with a tray or plate in hand looking for someplace to sit, it does seem rude.

                                                        1. fun thread. is this the right place to talk about the emo kid at the wi-fi coffee shop who spreads out laptop, backpack, coat, ipod and notebook over the entire surface of a six-person booth to ensure that s/he is the only one who has access to the electrical outlet, leaves the table to order a coffee, then leaves everything, goes outside to smoke half a pack of cigarettes and make cellphone calls, returning occasionally to start a new download, rest&repeat for the next three hours. i.e. "i'm studying, bro."-- or is that a different thread? :)

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                                            Oh please.... start a new thread! This topic deserves its own thread!!!

                                                            I hear your pain! How do those coffee shops survive?

                                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                                              One of my friends uses Starbucks as his office. I always kid around with him that he's just using that place to pick up young college girls (he's 40+) as the Starbucks is near a college. Guess it's cheaper than renting a cubicle.

                                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                                Come on, that's an easy case. First, the establishment is much
                                                                more affected by this than you are, so they have a much more
                                                                significant incentive to deal with this.

                                                                Second, I think there is probably some amount of "laptop
                                                                user solidarity" so I think quite often if you ask about using the
                                                                outlet, they'll let you use it for a while.

                                                                If a single person really is taking up a table for six
                                                                and the place is full, i think it's relatively simple to ask
                                                                if you can share the table ... although you are right,
                                                                if the person has spread around there stuff, you are
                                                                more likely to go to another table where the singleton
                                                                has "compressed" his space use singnalling people
                                                                are welcome to share.

                                                                Since I say "this is an easy case" I'll give you a real world
                                                                example of what is a "hard case" ... when i sit solo at a cafe
                                                                table for four, i do compress my real estate coverage singalling
                                                                "you are welcome to steal one of the chair or share the table".
                                                                The problem is when two people land at the table and proceed
                                                                to have an animated conversation when you are trying to read ...
                                                                you cant very well say "you are welcome to share the table to
                                                                work, but if you are going to be yapping, i have work to do,
                                                                so you are not welcome without strings".

                                                                The most egregious thing i had happen to me in this realm was
                                                                when i "backpack-marked" my spot at a large ~8person communal
                                                                table in a cafe, went to get my coffee ... when i got back a party of 4
                                                                had taken up half the table including my space ... and the were waiting
                                                                for their RSVP at a resto up the street ... and didnt order anything at the
                                                                cafe! of course they were talking loudly and made it difficult for the
                                                                threee workers at the table.

                                                                [note for SF people: this was at the large Ritual table and the
                                                                party of four was waiting for their table at Dosa].

                                                                1. re: psb

                                                                  Not a lot of laptop "solidarity" at the starbucks my DH frequents.. more like, yelling and name-calling over who gets to sit by the outlet.

                                                                  I see how it's obnoxious to save a seat, but, OTOH why would I buy food and not be assured of a place to sit? If the only reason I am paying $10 for juice and cheese & crackers (recent trip to Starbucks) is so that my tired toddler and I have somewhere to sit down and eat, I generally will make sure I have a table before I pay up. I do keep a general eye out that nobody ahead of me in line is totally getting screwed (especially slow-moving parties, be they families, old people, etc).

                                                              2. The caveat: I'm a Texan and I've been in Connecticut only six years, or 10% of my life. I'm not in Texas anymore (and for the most-part, I love it).

                                                                I've been to NYC quite a few times. I think the closer you get to NYC the more people are initially less outgoing ( till you get to know them), and then they are about the same as anywhere else. So, if you just bump into a stranger in public, around here, assuming you will never to see them again, you might get your head taken off. OK, that may be too strong.... but some things that I hear make me wonder.

                                                                I am distressed that this topic is discussed. What happened to manners? Is we heading for anarchy? I am more distressed to hear people say, "tough sh**, survival of the fittest", and all that rah-rah-me first jazz.
                                                                Yea, it's a tough world; and guess what: you are just making it tougher, with your attitude. Because it's done doesn't make it right. I can't even believe I'm saying that. :(
                                                                I think what self-annointed, overly important people need is policemen poking them in the gut with their nightstick! What I mean is, they need to have rules in restaurants and someone enforcing them to save sweet old ladies from not getting a seat. There's nothing to be gained, except for the person who is essentially cutting in line, by marking a seat. It's not going to change the flow of customers or speed anything up. It makes things worse.
                                                                I like the idea of assigning a spot and the staff bringing you your food. There were deli's in the Dallas area where you just found a spot and they brought you your food. In the meantime you could be sipping on your tea or getting your self-serve salad.
                                                                If management had a posted policy then it could be used to settle hissy-fits if they occured.
                                                                I think that the theatre issue is not the same.
                                                                I just really dislike hearing that "it happens all the time" and "that's the way it is" to justify unsociable behavior.

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: Scargod

                                                                  I just really dislike hearing that "it happens all the time" and "that's the way it is" to justify unsociable behavior.
                                                                  Absolutely. The entitlement factor comes into play here; "I want what I want the way I want it when I want it and everyone else be damned."

                                                                  Just. Does. Not. Make. Sense. But then again, those that are self-entitled don't have any common sense, it seems, because they don't think of anyone but themselves.

                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                    Absolutely. So very true.

                                                                    And the restaurants that don't have available seating are absolutely populated by people who gallantly take a seat only after they've gotten their food. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

                                                                    1. re: dolores

                                                                      I didn't say that. I'm just saying it's rude and smacks of self-entitlement and the attitude of "I don't care about anyone else but myself" to do so.

                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                        I understood that. But it's still going to happen.

                                                                        And the practice is not going to be discontinued by the majority of residing citizens anytime soon.

                                                                2. Although I've experienced being on both sides of the issue, I will never forget the most outrageous incident... I was traveling with my family, and we headed to the hotel's restaurant for breakfast. Since it was fairly early, only a few tables were taken and the waitstaff told us to "sit anywhere you like". This was a buffet style establishment, so we placed our belongings (jacket, guidebook, etc) on the table/chairs and proceeded to get some food.

                                                                  Along comes a tour group, and out of all the empty tables in the place, they decide they want OUR table. So their leader unceremoniously yanks my brother's jacket off his chair to move it to another table -- and my brother immediately confronts him in a civil manner asking why they are touching our stuff. Because the tourists don't speak
                                                                  English, nor any other language my family members can communicate in, we had a very difficult and tense moment with the group refusing to choose another table.

                                                                  Finally the waitstaff noticed the situation and attempt to clear things up.... unfortunately they had diffuculty communicating as well. The tourists insisted "Reserved! Reserved!" And the staff insisted "there's no reserved tables here... not our policy to reserve..." I know that if we hadn't been on vacation and it wasn't a dining establishment, I would have been right by my bro's side if he decided to "take it outside".

                                                                  Fortunately these obstinate and rude people backed down and chose another table.