ANOTHER MANNERS QUESTION
First, thanks to those of you who responded to my question yesterday about line-butting, There were a lot of excellent thoughts in there, as well as some useful tips on the laundering of hats.
It went so well that I want to ask another manners question today. But before I do, let me say that: (1) Yes, I'll probably write a column on this, and (2) No, you will not be paid, though you will have my eternal gratitude, defined as "gratitude that could last for several days."
Anyway, today's question involves saving seats (or tables). When is this OK? My off-the-cuff feeling is that if the persons you're saving the seats for are actually somewhere on the premises, it's OK. The classic example is, you're at the movies, and one part of your party goes to find seats, while the other part buys popcorn.
But my feeling is that if the people you're saving seats for are NOT in the building yet, you really can't deny open seats to people who are actually there. Is that a valid distinction?
And what about tables? Often, at, say, a crowded shopping-mall food court, there will be many tables occupied by people who aren't actually eating, but simply camping out while others in their party get food. Now, under my on-the-premises guideline, this would be OK; the problem is that table-camping increases the average time of use for each table, which makes the crowding worse than if people waited until they actually had their food before sitting down.
Anyway, comment away. Or not! I realize you may have something more important to do. Although I frankly cannot imagine what.