This entry is a rant. I'm not sure how much ranting to do in this blog. I'll try this one out and see how I feel about it.
I am constantly amazed at a growing problem I call "table jumping." Table jumping is when someone stakes claim to a chair/table before they have actually purchased anything to eat/drink. It is the first-come-first-served "right" gone bad.
The "claim" is made by placing a personal belonging down on the table/chair prior to actually settling in. I live in a large college town, and students regularly walk through the front door of a cafe, drop their book-bag on a table top, then proceed to the queue to order their their drink/food.
Cafes in my town are always overflowing with patrons, so empty seats/tables are hard to find. If a joint is relatively empty, then "jumping a table" is fine, but this is rarely the case. So, paid patrons (me) are often looking for a place to sit after buying their drink, only to find a handful of tables "claimed" by others only now standing in the long queue that the paid patron just went through.
If I'm alone, as to not embarrass anyone I'm with, I'll remove the "claiming" item, set it aside (or on the floor), and take the seat. Obviously I wouldn't do this unless I knew for certain that someone just waltzed in and staked the claim. Responses I've gotten in response to doing this have ranged from apologetic, to hostile.
Table jumping wasn't a big deal pre-children, but now that I have kids, it's uncool to essentially cut in-line, when a family could really need the table a jumper just claimed.