I ate lunch at Chipotle with three total strangers last Friday. I didn’t walk in with the thought, “Oh, today I’ll eat with people I don’t know.” In fact, I had turned down going to lunch with a couple of guys from work because I didn’t know them very well and it would have been nothing but awkward.
So, I arrived at Chipotle and found it the busiest I’ve ever seen it. I waited almost 15 minutes in line, and I was lucky to find a table when I had filled my drink. (Unfortunately, it was not outdoors.) The next few people had someone saving seats for them, until a group of three guys came through the line. They stood by the drink fountain for a few minutes, searching to see where there might be a seat. Being that I was at a 4-person table by myself, they were a little less than subtly looking toward mine.
Finally, when one of them caught my eye for the fifth time, I said that they were welcome to sit at my table. As a result, I had a very enlightening conversation concerning turkey hunting and factory work. (They work for a company whose factory used to employ me.)
As a result of this adventure, I began to wonder what is etiquette when eating at a busy fast-food restaurant. Most of what I found was in relation to the servers and how not to order your meal with an attitude. While those are great points, I’d like to add a couple of rules that I came up with in observations from that day:
- If you’ve finished eating, and you see someone waiting for a table, it’s time to leave. I watched as a group of six looked directly at these three men, looked back to their pile of trash, disposed of the trash and returned to their table to continue talking for another 15 minutes.
- If you happen to have a table to yourself, you should offer to share. You might make a new friend or at least learn something. At the very least, you don’t look so depressing by eating alone.
- Consider not saving seats. I understand your group of six may have the same difficulty these three guys did, but think of the people eating before you even receive your order. Perhaps they’re without seats because you didn’t want to wait as someone else finished eating while you were paying for your burrito.
Do you agree with these rules? What else am I missing?