I’ve written before about some of the advantages of staying at home (which I, for one, am happy to do) during the pandemic, and it recently occurred to me there is another reason to be optimistic about potential changes in personal habits: hopefully the global public health crisis of covid-19 will cure certain people from doing a specific practice that has been a big pet peeve of mine for many years.
The people and the practice I am referring to is restaurant hosts/wait staff and the way they arrange patrons in the establishment. Let’s say, for example, my son (or a date, or friends of mine) and I go into an eatery and there are, like, four other people in the place, maybe two couples. Which means there are probably several open tables and/or booths, am I right? Anyway, there have been numerous times I’ve been in the situation, where the host/wait person will put my people and me right next to the two or four other people in the restaurant!! Seriously??? The logic for why they do this is beyond my comprehension. Is it to save their steps? As I was a waitress 100 years ago when I was young, I can sympathize with sore feet. But still ….
Even with all those other seats open, apparently restaurant workers assume that all their customers WANT to be in near proximity to the other customers. I guess they believe— sometimes very incorrectly — that we all want to flock together. I’m here to tell you this is wrong:
“We don’t all want to flock together. Some of us would prefer to stand out and not go with the crowd. I am one of those people.”
Mind you I am by no means anti-social, at least most of the time. I just maybe want to be far enough away from others so I can comfortably hear my guest with whom I’m dining. Then there’s the fact that some people can’t keep their conversations in their own spaces. They apparently think we ALL need to hear what they are saying. This goes for those inconsiderate people who feel the need to talk on the phone while in a restaurant. Ugh. Good old fashioned manners frowns upon that but I know that nowadays said “manners” are pretty much mostly a quaint memory some of us cherish.
Surely I can’t be the ONLY person who feels this way. But time and time again it has happened where restaurant staff seems to think we all need to be close to each other. Not.
On a side note, I’ve also noticed this tendency of people to “flock” in parking lots and it strikes me as humorous. Back in the day when I could still walk comfortably without a certain degree of pain, I used to park my car in the “back 40” of a parking lot for (insert name of big-box retail store here). Often I was like the only one in that area because most people prefer to drive around until they find a spot nearest the door as possible (I am NOT kidding! I dated a guy once who did that; he’d drive around and around and I’d be screaming in my head, “Pick a spot already!! Geez!!!”) Then, when I’d come out of the store with my purchases it frequently happened that there would be a whole bunch of cars around mine, where before I went into the store there were none, or very few other cars. The human tendency to want to be in packs, I guess.
Anyway, as stated earlier, what with the pandemic causing us to practice “social distancing” I — like probably most other people in the world — look forward to the day when the “worst” has past and we can go dine in restaurants (instead of doing curbside pickup). Then I hope that the staff at these eateries will have a new practice taught to them, that of social distancing the customers. That would be so nice (as would — here’s another advice/change you restaurant people might consider — turning down the background music).
If not, well I guess I will just continue doing what I’ve done for a number of years now (in my “middle age”), that being telling the host/wait staff where I want to sit: in a booth, by a window, preferably away from small children (unless they are happy small children who know how to stay in their place). Yes, I know maybe that sounds bossy and/or cranky but the truth is: I’m a paying customer who comes out to enjoy a dining experience, and wish to have a pleasant one at that. Thus I would prefer my space. Please, give me my space. Cheers!!