The other day my friend and I were enjoying lunch at a crowded restaurant. To be fair, the restaurant was very cramped and did not have a designated area where people could stand to wait for a table. As a result, we were surrounded by people gawking at us as we dined. It was very uncomfortable and we felt totally rushed! It was like having someone read the paper over your shoulder. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.
But not everyone was rude and crowded our space. One couple lingered by us for a moment, but apologized profusely. They then notified the hostess that they would wait outside rather than hover over us. I appreciated their sympathy and civility. If only everyone had been as kind!
Being civil means having a fair amount of self-awareness and being attune to how your actions may affect others. It’s not about thinking about what suits you best all of the time. That couple may have been warmer waiting inside, but they realized that doing so would be awkward and rude to other diners. Nobody likes to wait for a table, but it dampens the experience when you finally score that table and can’t fully enjoy yourself.
By the same token, my friend and I sought to be civil by understanding that there were several hungry people waiting to be seated. As a result we refrained from hogging the table for ages, and asked for the check as soon as we had finished the meal. We did not linger. Sure, it would have been lovely to camp out and chit-chat for ages, but it seemed selfish to do so when so many people were waiting.
I hope you’ll think about this the next time you are dining—or waiting for a table—in a crowded restaurant. A little civility will make the whole experience more enjoyable for all!