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Re:Sitting on spare seats at an occupied table in a cafe

(333 Posts)
Bahhhhhumbug Sat 03-May-14 20:12:09

Just asking your thoughts really. DD and I were in a small licensed cafe in a local town during the day recently. It is a bit of a 'lovey' type place with lots of showbiz people etc. without outing where I live. The café is quite cramped with lots of little tables seating no more than four people each and that's at a push really.
It is very popular and DD and I got the last available table (the least popular right in front of the door , so draughty) We then observed several couples standing in the doorway yeah thanks for that looking around to establish there were no empty tables and one older couple on being told by the waiter very apologetically that there were no tables and he didn't know how long and would they like to sit at a table outside (fairly decent day) and have a coffee or something till one became available.
But no they decided to stand there in the doorway and gawp round the room assessing how far on everyone was with their meal/drink, including pointing when someone made any sort of move to go to the toilet or whatever. They seemed to be discussing a lady sat in a corner at a table alone reading a paper whilst having her drink /food and the fact she was sat on her own with 'three empty seats' but then decided against it and left.
They came back again five minutes or so later and did the same causing a draught routine again and were again politely told there were still no tables but insisted on waiting again in the doorway. After a few minutes they went over to the lady in the corner and I heard the man say 'Can we sit here , or are you one of these people funny about sharing a table?' They said this as they were pulling the chairs out obviously going for it whatever her response. I think she was too gobsmacked to say anything tbh but didn't seem happy and left soon after.
My DD and I were both a bit hmm and said we would never intrude on someones quiet time in this way unless it was a long table meant for more than one group and even then would sit at far end. Obviously the water/proprietor didn't want them too as he repeatedly told them 'sorry no tables'. So what do you all think ? We felt it was quiet intrusive and that many people go into a café to have a quiet chill on their own or a private conversation with a friend/family member , not to socialise with strangers (they had proceeded to make small talk with her btw , resulting in her closing her book.)

susiedaisy Sat 03-May-14 20:16:12

The couple were in the wrong.

Bahhhhhumbug Sat 03-May-14 20:16:13

the waiter/proprietor didn't want them 'to' share a table , that should've said.

Catsize Sat 03-May-14 20:20:28

Totally depends on the setting and size of tables, but sounds a bit odd in this case.

YellowTulips Sat 03-May-14 20:20:45

Tbh I don't see any harm in asking politely if someone will share a table when it's busy, but in this case their attitude was awful and very presumptive. Just the way the question was phrased an sitting down before getting an answer.

So no I don't think YABU.

Sparklingbrook Sat 03-May-14 20:22:44

Couple were in the wrong and quite rude with it. sad

Sirzy Sat 03-May-14 20:23:33

If somewhere is busy and that is the only available seats I would happily share. If I am alone I only need one seat and a small amount of table

Pipbin Sat 03-May-14 20:25:01

No problem in asking but the phrasing was dreadful. I normally say yes in such situations but of the asked if 'I was one of those people' I would say no.

Tabby1963 Sat 03-May-14 20:27:14

I regularly visit a lovely tea shop for tea and toast (and the free wifi grin). It is really, really popular and I would be very happy to share a table with other people as there is usually just one of me sitting at a table for four.

LRDtheFeministDragon Sat 03-May-14 20:27:45

Given the waiter's attitude it doesn't sound as if it's the sort of cafe where you share tables, so I think they were rude.

I'd share tables somewhere where there aren't waiters and it's fairly casual, but IMO if there's a waiter and you have to be formally seated by them, it's not the sort of place to assume you can share.

CorusKate Sat 03-May-14 20:28:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Rainbunny Sat 03-May-14 20:28:39

That is rude! I bet the couple knew that the woman would be chased off by them as well so they would get the table to themselves.
I'll try not to go into my rant about good manners disappearing - in our overcrowded society I really believe that once good manners go it'll be the end!

sebsmummy1 Sat 03-May-14 20:31:44

I've had this happen in the past to me by an elderly lady and we went on to have a lovely chat for about 20 minutes and I really enjoyed her company.

I think sometimes it can be quite nice but I'm sure often it's not and because of that the couple were rude.

Sparklingbrook Sat 03-May-14 20:32:52

It's very rude to stand in the doorway for longer than about 5 seconds gawping at everyone. It's all about manners isn't it?

susiedaisy Sat 03-May-14 20:33:07

If a table is occupied it's occupied regardless of how many are sitting on it. It's rude to barge in and sit down before someone can even answer IMO. Would people do that in a restaurant if a couple were sat at a family sized table for say 5, having a meal ??

Bahhhhhumbug Sat 03-May-14 20:33:22

Yes the way he asked was quite loaded and rude , we thought that. It is a small place with about a dozen small tables , there are four chairs round each but tables only about the size of a table for two in a restaurant so four people would in reality struggle especially if eating , not just having a drink.

EvansOvalPiesYumYum Sat 03-May-14 20:33:48

That couple were most certainly in the wrong and should have gone elsewhere - you don't muscle in on someone's table if it's a "wait to be seated" establishment. Very rude!

scottishmummy Sat 03-May-14 20:34:21

If you want a chill or private conversation don't go to a public cafe,its not your private domain

OverAndAbove Sat 03-May-14 20:34:33

Why were they so desperate to be in that cafe? It seems really odd that they went away and came back; surely you would just go somewhere else rather than stalk other people innocently enjoying a bit of down time?

The only places I think this would be ok would be eg a station or airport or busy park cafe with benches - ie you have to be there, and you really want to sit down.

shouldnthavesaid Sat 03-May-14 20:37:29

I do this at uni all the time - mainly because, if you don't ask/wonder around/tut at people who are finished and just sitting doing nothing, you won't get a seat for hours on end - but only at uni, never anywhere else!

kungfupannda Sat 03-May-14 20:38:08

I think it depends on the type of place.

There are some places where it's obvious that it's not appropriate to muscle in on someone else's space - and it sounds as though this was that type of place, given that there was a waiter heading them off.

But somewhere like a packed Starbucks, or similar, I would probably say 'is this seat free?' as long as the person didn't have papers/laptop spread out on the table.

But this couple were just rude anyway. If they'd said that to me, I'd have said 'Yes. Yes I am. Bye.'

I had someone try to join me at a tiny table, which only had room for my small laptop and my drink and cake, just because it was in the window and she didn't seem to like any of the other 15 empty tables. I just smiled vaguely and said 'no, not really' when she asked me if I could move my things, and she huffed and went away.

When I was in my early 20s I was also once with my very elderly grandmother when she insisted on joining two ladies at a table in an otherwise empty M&S cafe because it was her favourite table. I should obviously have dug my heels in, but things were a little tricky with her in the last couple of years of her life, and it would have led to an almighty row and a huge amount of misery for everyone.

She then asked them to move because she couldn't hear what I was saying because of their conversation. blush They looked at us like this hmm and said 'No. We're quite alright here, thank you.' I waited till she went to the loo and fell over myself apologising. They were very nice about it, but it still makes me cringe, thinking about it.

scottishmummy Sat 03-May-14 20:40:43

I cant see what the couple did wrong,they hovered for seat.its necessary in busy cafes
I dont think anyone in a public cafe can honestly hope for privacy,or no social contact with stranger

SpicyPear Sat 03-May-14 20:40:43

In the circumstances that you describe, I find their behaviour rude and pushy.

Bahhhhhumbug Sat 03-May-14 20:47:58

Coruskate they stood with the door open which wasn't meant to be kept open (nice day but quite drafty indoors out the sun) Also the waiter had asked them politely if they would like to sit ouside (in the sun) and have a drink till a table became available but they just stood there in the open doorway for about five minutes practically stood over us and causing a draught for everyone else. The waiter was diplomatically trying to get them to either leave and come back or at least move out of the doorway so the door could be shut. It is a very small place so it did feel quite intrusive to have someone stood over us and watching everyone's every move and pointing etc. .

Sparklingbrook Sat 03-May-14 20:48:43

I would never do it, it's really rude. If the cafe is full, accept that and go elsewhere, no need to make people that have paid and are drinking/eating feel uncomfortable.

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