Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Seat Stalker Etiquette

Java Green (19th and K Sts NW) is one of my favorite lunch spots. The food is unbelievable and naturally, for such a natural place, they have some naturally perfect outside seating. This restaurant is generally line-out-the-door busy from noon until after 2 or so. Great little place; everything's vegetarian, try it out some day. This is about a lunch experience I had there recently, but the seat stalking phenomenon doesn't just occur at Java Green.

Many times groups come in. They will send most of the group inside to look over the menu and order and leave one person to hold down a table until the others get back. That's fine. I understand its hard to wait until your turn like everyone else, and its hard to find seating for 3 or 4 people together in such a busy place. I get that. But this may have been a little over the top.

I was eating at an outside table, alone. It was a table with 4 seats. I certainly wouldn't have minded some strangers wanting to eat at the table while I was there, no problem. A group of 3 people walked up to the front door and were looking around the patio for a seat. Two went inside and a nice lady lingered around my table, but I didn't look up. After a few seconds she asked "if I was almost done." Don't get me wrong, it wasn't in a nasty tone and she apologized for bothering me. I was still a little surprised. Was I done? I don't know? I mean, my bowl was almost empty, but what about my delicious lemonade? I still hadn't touched that copy of the Post, and I didn't like to be rushed anyway. It's sort of rude, yea? Am I in the wrong here?

Anyway, I said "yea, I'm almost done," then proceeded to eat the rest of my rice bowl, but now under pressure. The woman was just standing next to the table waiting for me to finish. Awwwwwkward. Was I eating to fast, too slow? There were no answers. What about that table of four next to me? They've been here for-ever. Ask them please! Also she was now having a conversation on the cell phone, unrelated. I guess I could have suggested that they sit down at my table, with me; but not. I didn't do that. What she was really asking was for me to leave so they could have the table. Not an unreasonable request, just didn't seem to be good seat stalking etiquette. Personally I would have just hovered around without saying a word. Maybe stood right over my shoulder, picked up my Post and started reading it. You know, subtle clues, small moves. But everyone has their own way. I finished reading the Post on the way back to work.