Thursday, January 19, 2006


It has become a habit in Singapore to book tables with almost anything. A pack of tissuepaper, a bag, a book and the list goes on and on. There was a period of time when there are many things left unattended on the tables and got stolen. The most famous item is of course the handphone.

After that, there seems to be a heavy campaign to tell people not to leave things on the table. Therefore, they actually created a signboard mounted on the table saying that you should not leave your items unattended or to book the table.

Now here is the story. In my faculty canteen, there are 2 seater and 4 seater tables. Majority are 4 seaters. Many students in the past put bags, books and water bottles to book tables while they line up to buy food in the canteen stores especially during peak hours like lunch time and dinner time. This is to make sure that there are seats available to sit when they come back with their food.

Even with this signage mounted at the center of every table, they still do that. Today, I went eating with a China Phd. friend. We went around to find seats and managed to find a 4 seater table with a bag there. I told him let's find other tables to sit but he insisted we sit there because if they really want to sit there, there should be only one person.

Soon afterwards, the person arrived with his food and tell us that there are 4 friends so can we move away to some other tables around. My China friend didn't want to move and wanted to fight for his right. He said it is wrong to use a bag to book a table. Then, I added in saying that the signage is also mounted on every table to clearly tell us about such habits.

He said everybody is doing it and convinced us that we are doing it too. My China friend replied that he never do such bookings of tables with his items. The guy replied that we are wrong for doing it. My China friend replied that it is him who is wrong. The guy said he already requested us to leave politely and it is bad courtesy of ours to hold on his place. Then, I tried to clear the matter and told my friend to just leave. No need to argue with the stubborn guy.

Then, my China friend only wanted to leave and said he is wasting our time. The guy said we are wasting his time. Off we leave the place.

Now, who is wrong here? If you are us, what will you do?

For me, we are definitely correct because there is no law on earth to book a table with items. My point is also strongly reinforced with the clear signage mounted on every table in the canteen. I can surely believe we can get the table to ourselves if we blow the matter to big proportions but what the heck, we are just having our lunch.

Finally, no, I never book any tables with my items. I do put my bags or items on tables if there are many of them lying around and the reason I do that is because I am carrying too many things until I cannot carry the plate, fork and spoon / chopsticks. I don't do it during peak hours.


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