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What is the eHell-approved method of dealing with this situation?

Ask politely to share the 4-person table, and hope that they get the hint and move to an available smaller table
46 (18%)
Ask politely if they would mind moving from the 4-person table to a smaller available table
13 (5.1%)
Find 2 smaller available tables and push them together, even though this may mean dragging tables across the seating area
111 (43.5%)
Let your dining companions sit down at a smaller table, and watch like a hawk for a bigger table to open up
48 (18.8%)
Other (explain)
37 (14.5%)

Total Members Voted: 255

Author Topic: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table  (Read 20286 times)

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Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« on: June 08, 2014, 09:11:09 PM »
The situation:

I was at the food court at the local shopping mall with my 2 DD's.  The food court was very busy; and when we got our food on trays we wandered around to realize that while there were several small 2-person tables available, there were no free 4-person tables.  However, I did see at least 3 larger 4-person tables occupied by a single person.  So, I was wondering if any of the options I listed would be eHell-approved.

I did not list "just wait for a table" as an option, because it's notoriously difficult to deal with 2 hungry children and trays of hot food which will soon become cold. 

So vote away!


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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2014, 09:18:55 PM »
I would politely ask to share but would not ever expect the person who was there before me to move.  If they offer, great, but the is no "getting the hint" that they need to move away from a spot where they were eating before you got there. 

The expectation that a single person would gladly interrupt their meal and move for your comfort is really, really, presumptuous.  I have been in both the position of the single person and the group and sometimes you just have to deal with being inconvenienced.


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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2014, 09:21:34 PM »
I picked "other," as I was envisioning a cross between the last two options. Basically I would share a 2-person table with my dining companions. In this specific case it shouldn't be too bad, as the other two people are children and thus smaller. I would have to drag a third chair over, but that's all. If it was a group of adults who definitely wouldn't fit at a 2-person table, I would drag over another table.

The only place I've seen people ask to share a table with a stranger is someplace like a college student union food court at noon. Literally every table could be full, and people will walk up to you and ask if they can share your table. But that's usually a single person approaching another single person at a table, and everyone's a college student, and they're all pressed for time because they need to eat before getting to class--everyone's kind of in the same boat and I think the rules are a bit different.

I personally don't really find 1 person sitting at a 4-person table to be that rude. I can see how it might be frustrating to others, certainly.


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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2014, 09:21:42 PM »
If 2 smaller tables were close enough together I'd drag one over and join them up (I've been in groups where we've done this many times).

Failing that, I'd just squish up at a smaller table and keep my eye out in case a bigger table opened up.

I wouldn't ask to sit with a stranger, and wouldn't appreciate it if someone did it to me. For all anyone knows, the person sitting is waiting for other members of their party to bring food over to them.

I certainly wouldn't ask someone to completely vacate the table, especially if they are already in the middle of eating.


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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2014, 09:28:14 PM »
I would ask to share the table but I would not see this as a 'hint' that the original occupier should move.  In fact I don't see why they should move and any little nudges to give them a hint would be very rude.

I look at the seating in a shopping mall food court as being in one person blocks, you get the seat and, on a 'four person' table, the quarter of the table that is directly in front of you.  Everybody just wants to eat and move along, so who else is at the table is not an issue.

Ask to share the table.  If they refuse, not because they are waiting for others but just because they want all that space for themselves, they are taking more than their share of resources and are being rude.  If they say yes be careful not to spread into their space and everyone can eat and move along.


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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2014, 09:36:09 PM »
I selected other only because it's presumptuous to expect others to vacate just because you asked to share the table.  The person at the large table may be there for various reasons. 

asking to share a table that has enough room is fine.  expecting people to get up and leave because you have arrived is a bit much.


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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2014, 09:40:28 PM »
I chose push two tables together. I wouldn't ever ask someone who is already seated to move, regardless of the circumstances. The place may have been nearly empty when he or she sat there or, as someone said upthread, he or she may have companions who don't have their food yet. I also think asking a solo donor to share the table with one adult and two children could be interpreted as a tactic to get the solo diner to leave quickly. I am sure the OP wouldn't mean it that way but it could be interpreted that way.

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2014, 10:23:44 PM »
 I said other ....

I would push 2 small tables together if they were already near each other or I'd borrow a chair from one of the 4 tops.

With the exception of cafeterias  at work or school/college and events with nothing but  8 , 10 ,12+ person tables , I would not ask to share.   Cafeterias are captive audiences ......... I have to pay for my son to have meals at uni , he has limited times to eat those meals , he can't come back in a hour or choice to eat somewhere else just like everyone else so all available seating must be used.

I think of it this way if it was a hostess seated restaurant... Sure they may seat singles at the 2 tops first but once all the 2 tops are full they would be seated at the 4 tops if you arrive at a restaurant and all the tables are full you either wait or go somewhere else, we don't get to share or move people around.   I don't think a food court/seat yourself restaurant is any different. 


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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2014, 10:40:49 PM »
I selected other.

If you don't want to put two 2-tops together, then pull a third chair up to one of the 2-tops.

The option of asking to share a 4-top hoping the lone person sitting there will take the hint and move sounds PA.  Asking the person flat out to interrupt whatever he/she is doing and move to convenience you sounds equally as bad.

I could see myself using a 4-top, instead of a 2-top, because the 2-tops are frequently pretty small for what I need to do and feel very cramped.  If there are plenty of 2-tops available, I could see taking a 4-top to use (I don't eat in mall food courts so this wouldn't be happening anyway). because I'd need sufficient room to both set up my meal and set up my laptop/book.  I used a bookstand to prop up my book (when I would eat out by myself) and 2-tops were often too small to do this and have what I need for my meal close by.  Again, though, I don't eat at mall food courts so I haven't run into the OP's situation.

I agree, also, that you don't know if the solo diner is waiting for others.  I was once at a table with four chairs at the fair (and available tables were at a premium).  Some guy came up to my table and started to take a couple of the chairs without asking or acknowledging me.  I stopped him immediately.  Why?  Because I'd been sitting there holding the table while my friend went to get our lunch.  The other chairs were for him.  I thought it quite rude the guy didn't even bother asking me before trying to take them.  You might think two chairs for each of us is special, but I'm really short.  Frequently, chairs are too high off the ground for me to sit comfortably because my feet don't rest flat on the ground and the seats are too deep for me rest my back against them and still be able to reach the table comfortably.  I think I used the lower rung of the chair to rest my feet against, which gave me the support I needed to sit upright.


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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2014, 11:22:42 PM »
This used to happen a lot to my family and I before Starbucks moved to their bigger location.  What we would do is just pull over another couple of chairs to a two top or, if there was another free table, pull another two person table over.  We would never ever ask the person using the four top to leave.  First off, it's rude, and second off, it's first come first serve with tables, even if it's a single using a four top.  Same thing, in my mind, goes for the food court.


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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2014, 11:37:54 PM »
I would be willing to share a table in a food court even if it crowded me or hurried me. I might move because I don't want to help you wrangle your kids-somehow that happens to me..grandma type.


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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2014, 11:53:39 PM »
I'd prefer you drag two tables together, but I'm not averse to sharing a table with you as long as your kids understand the concepts of table manners and inside voices, and are past the age of covering everything in a 12' radius with partially chewed goop. I would not appreciate being asked, or even worse passive aggressively hinted at, to move.
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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2014, 01:38:02 AM »
I'd drag a third chair to a two top.  You don't know that person is dining alone and food courts first first come, first serve.


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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2014, 01:56:19 AM »
Other.  I'd grab a chair and pull it up to one of the smaller tables. 
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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #14 on: June 09, 2014, 02:04:42 AM »
I agree with the posters who suggest snagging a two-top and bringing over an extra chair if two two-tops aren't close together.

I don't think it would be too awful to ask if you could share a table if it was just you (and, of course, you would accept a "no" gracefully), but making a stranger the odd one out at the table that they have selected? Not okay. There is no way of knowing whether it was the only seat available when they got their meal, or whether they have others coming, or anything else. 

While I do think it would be inconsiderate for a party of one to take a table designed for 6+ if there were more options, a 4-top doesn't seem as unreasonable. I've been seated at tables and booths that could seat 4 while dining alone at restaurants. The 4-top seems to be the default size for dining.
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