Poll

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
45 (17.8%)
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
110 (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 (19%)
Other (explain)
37 (14.6%)

Total Members Voted: 253

Author Topic: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table  (Read 8522 times)

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Psychopoesie

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #75 on: June 10, 2014, 05:27:15 AM »
As an aside, about where to place your handbag (or purse in USspeak) if you're worried about placing it on the floor - rest it on your feet. Sort of like a penguin and their egg.



Or if it's like my backpack handbag, I put the straps over my knees so the handbag rests against my shins.

It's harder for thieves to get at (or so my stepmum reckons - she's the one who suggested it when we were travelling in some areas which had a lot of pickpockets, etc).

menley

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #76 on: June 10, 2014, 06:55:31 AM »
Yes, I always either keep my handbag on my body while eating (if it's a cross-body bag and there is enough length to do so comfortably) or rest the bag on my feet, with the strap wrapped around my knee.

I also have a friend who uses purse hooks to avoid all of these problems - they hook onto any table (damage-free) and your purse can hang from the table, without touching the floor or taking up space.

NyaChan

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #77 on: June 10, 2014, 09:53:46 AM »
This happened to me just yesterday.  One young man sitting at a 4 person table in the patio of the ice cream shop.  The only other tables were full.  He wasn't eating ice cream, but had a dog with him.  My friend and I had ice cream and a stroller and asked if he'd mind us using two of the chairs.  We angled away from the table, didn't use the table top actually since the ice cream was very good :D and made sure to be sweet to the dog when she crawled over to our side of the table. 

Eventually, a young woman came out with ice cream and the two of them headed on their way.  I think it worked well for the both of us.  We sat down after getting permission, I was accepting of the fact that he might end up using the table (he didn't), and he had somewhere to sit while he waited, but was still considerate of people who needed a place to sit.

guihong

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #78 on: June 10, 2014, 10:38:42 AM »
I was recently at an outdoor food/music festival.  I'd bought a plate of food and noticed that all the tables were taken and sitting on the ground wouldn't work.  I asked one couple with a small kid if I could share, and it was fine.  Our chairs were turned to watch the music, anyway. 

I think this might be a cultural difference, too.  I don't know about large US cities where sharing might be common, but I've never been asked to share a table at a food court.  I confess I've taken a four-top myself, because I want to read or spread my newspaper.  I try to make a point of not doing that during rush time, though.



TootsNYC

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #79 on: June 10, 2014, 11:30:57 AM »
This happened to me just yesterday.  One young man sitting at a 4 person table in the patio of the ice cream shop.  The only other tables were full.  He wasn't eating ice cream, but had a dog with him.  My friend and I had ice cream and a stroller and asked if he'd mind us using two of the chairs.  We angled away from the table, didn't use the table top actually since the ice cream was very good :D and made sure to be sweet to the dog when she crawled over to our side of the table. 

Eventually, a young woman came out with ice cream and the two of them headed on their way.  I think it worked well for the both of us.  We sat down after getting permission, I was accepting of the fact that he might end up using the table (he didn't), and he had somewhere to sit while he waited, but was still considerate of people who needed a place to sit.

Plus you petted the dog! A win for all 3 parties (you, him, and the dog).

Tea Drinker

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #80 on: June 10, 2014, 01:06:23 PM »
This is tangential, but if I was worried about putting a handbag on the floor because of dirt, I'd carry a clean plastic bag (maybe one of those thin bags the supermarket gives me for produce), and then take that bag out and put it on the floor to protect the bag I cared about. (Mostly I travel with a black daypack of the sort that won't show a little dirt, so I'm just watching out for puddles and chewing gum.) Then it could be between my feet rather than on them, which is more comfortable.

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Redsoil

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #81 on: June 10, 2014, 08:42:14 PM »
I wonder how many daily interactions might be pleasantly simplified if we approached the situation with an open mind, rather than a pre-emptive adversarial stance?  Maybe strangers aren't as awful as some might think.  Maybe they're just other humans like us, who may react kindly, rather than as we might expect in our minds.  Often, I see situations here where the immediate thinking is about how inconvenienced we may be by others, or how our presence may inconvenience them.  A little understanding and pleasant dialogue may go a long way towards world peace!

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Tea Drinker

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #82 on: June 10, 2014, 10:35:03 PM »
I don't think it's "pre-emptively adversarial" to consider that the stranger sitting in the food court might have a headache, or be dealing with something stressful, and not want to interact with me. Someone who wants company is of course free to look up at the hovering person-with-food and say "this seat is free, if you need one."

Nor is it adversarial to consider my own needs if I am the person sitting there with a cup of tea, a plate of food, and a headache, and hoping that the first two might help with the third.

The trick is to make the request in a way that makes it easy to say no if you need or want to: "Excuse me, do you mind if we join you?" and don't put your tray down unless the stranger says to go ahead.
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kherbert05

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #83 on: June 10, 2014, 11:04:50 PM »
I realized why all the single people should sit a a 2 top instead of a 4 top talk bothered me so much. I as at the mall this morning and went through the food court to get to the restrooms. At my mall the outer rectangle of tables are 4 tops. Inside that in neat rows are 2 tops set up as 4 tops. The only places were a two top wasn't part of a 4 top is right in front of the trash cans. People generally use that table to hold their stuff as they empty their tray.

When I went back by there, the 2 tops inside the 4 tops were all rearranged into tables of 4 - 10. So I would not have a problem asking to use a 2 top that was part of a bigger table, it the people sitting there weren't using all of it. The set up allows for very flexible seating. I do feel sorry for the maintenance crew that apparently has to reset all those tables each evening.
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Psychopoesie

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #84 on: June 10, 2014, 11:22:27 PM »
I don't think it's "pre-emptively adversarial" to consider that the stranger sitting in the food court might have a headache, or be dealing with something stressful, and not want to interact with me. Someone who wants company is of course free to look up at the hovering person-with-food and say "this seat is free, if you need one."

Nor is it adversarial to consider my own needs if I am the person sitting there with a cup of tea, a plate of food, and a headache, and hoping that the first two might help with the third.

The trick is to make the request in a way that makes it easy to say no if you need or want to: "Excuse me, do you mind if we join you?" and don't put your tray down unless the stranger says to go ahead.

POD.

drzim

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #85 on: June 10, 2014, 11:29:29 PM »
OP here....great responses...thanks!

In reality, my response was option 4, until I got super frustrated (because I was hungry and my food was definitely getting cold) and went with 3.
The problem with 3 was that there were no empty tables close by, so I had to drag one across the crowded room (a fair distance).  So I was torn between the other options and the disruption I caused dragging the table.

To explain the situation a bit better,  the food court has lots of small 2-tops and fewer 4-tops.  However, they are arranged  in rows so that you can put them together to make bigger tables, or slide them apart a few inches to make separate tables.   Because of the way they are arranged in rows, it is impossible to put a third chair at a 2-top.  Even if the 2-top was at the end of the row, you couldn't pull a third chair up without blocking the aisle.
Plus, the tables are relatively small...a 2-top only fits 2 trays.  Even the 4-tops barely fit 4 people.

I think the tables are designed to encourage eating quickly; not lingering.  This is part of the reason why sharing a table with a stranger could be awkward. 

The problem I encountered originally was that none of the free 2-tops were close enough to each other, however there were at least 6-7 free tables.
The 4-top closest to us was occupied by a woman on her smartphone with a bag on the chair.  I considered approaching her but didn't know if it would be rude.  So my kids sat while I hovered with my tray.  Eventually, someone left that was not too far away and I was able to drag their table over.

Promise

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #86 on: June 10, 2014, 11:39:30 PM »
Costco has this problem because all of the tables are for 4 people. I just walk up to a table and say, "Can I join you?" I've never been told, "No."

perpetua

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #87 on: June 11, 2014, 03:31:40 AM »
I don't think it's "pre-emptively adversarial" to consider that the stranger sitting in the food court might have a headache, or be dealing with something stressful, and not want to interact with me. Someone who wants company is of course free to look up at the hovering person-with-food and say "this seat is free, if you need one."

Nor is it adversarial to consider my own needs if I am the person sitting there with a cup of tea, a plate of food, and a headache, and hoping that the first two might help with the third.

The trick is to make the request in a way that makes it easy to say no if you need or want to: "Excuse me, do you mind if we join you?" and don't put your tray down unless the stranger says to go ahead.

I don't either. But what I'm not understanding is why people think they need to 'interact' with a stranger they're sharing a food court table with. It isn't a social occasion, it's a  necessity, like a bus seat. You're also not 'joining' them, so why would you even ask that? Joining implies 'sitting down to eat *with* them'.  "Wanting company" or not doesn't come into it.

Every single interaction I've ever had of this nature involved "Do you mind if I sit here?" "Sure, go ahead" (or more likely, "Is anyone sitting here?" "No, go ahead") "Thanks!" and then that's it. Usually the person sitting down at the table will angle their body away from the person who's already there even, so, sit sideways on the chair facing out. There's no conversation after that and why would there be?

I'm very confused by this. You're not 'joining them for dinner'. Why would there even need to be any interaction beyond establishing whether the seat is taken?

Redsoil

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #88 on: June 11, 2014, 04:43:29 AM »
Never mind - I figured it may not be understood what I was getting at.

Look at many responses to many situations here, and the immediate line is often defensive or adversarial - "me vs. them".  I was addressing the mindset we often have when interacting with others, and how, if we change our expectations, we may be pleasantly surprised at how much more easily we get on with others, and how much more positive our own thoughts/lives may be.

Change your thinking to change your outcomes, basically.
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camlan

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #89 on: June 11, 2014, 06:24:55 AM »
About the interaction.

For me, there's a difference between one or two people asking to share a four-top with me and three people asking to share.

With one or two people, they will have half the table and I will have the other half. They can sit there and it's easy for me to ignore them. I can sort of create a dividing line in my head.

With three people and me, I'm surrounded. There's someone sitting across from me, and the person sitting next to me is talking to them and interacting with them. Even though I'm not forced to interact with them, they are interacting with my personal space more than if they were just sitting next to me. I would feel like an interloper.

I know I'm not explaining this well. But there's a difference, for me, between sharing half the table and sharing three-quarters of the table. Half doesn't bother me, three-quarters would make me feel crowded out of the table.
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