Wednesday, June 25, 2008

TableSharing: A New Trend at the CoffeeHouse

Unclear how we ever lived without The High Point, our indie coffee house. Great pastry, coffee, and ambiance. Part of the coziness is that it's a tiny space. Since it's booming, this can become frustrating, but enlarging isn't an option and moving could kill the whole thing, since it's near our food co-op, independent bookstore, environmental home store, and yoga studio - all the necessities of a proper progressive lifestyle.
I just noticed little signs they place on a few of the larger tables, designating them "Shared Tables". As in, at these tables you can't keep empty seats out of circulation while others are waiting. This is an interesting form of social engineering. Clearly there is no requirement that people at shared tables interact - they can plug in their Ipods, read their NYTimes, or power up their laptop and zone out. But I imagine folks do occasionally connect, and it seems like a great departure from our privatized American life. I also find it interesting, from a social psychology standpoint, that people actually abide by the policy an establishment makes up, though I imagine enforcing the policy for non-compliers gets a little dicey. Now I wish they would ban plastics from The High Point, simply refusing to provide disposable cups, or at least charge a whopping surcharge for them. Maybe by next year.
What policies would you like to see instituted? Last week I wrote about Costco providing preferential parking for HE cars. Whole Foods IS phasing out plastic bags. Smoking is banned in most public places now. How else can we improve quality of life in the commons, now that so many of us are techno-nomads?

2 comments:

Sue F. said...

You wrote:

> I also find it interesting, from a social psychology standpoint, that people actually abide by the policy an establishment makes up, though I imagine enforcing the policy for non-compliers gets a little dicey.

I'd guess the way it probably works is that the second (third, etc.) sitter feels empowered to come sit down, and at that point it becomes nearly impossible for the person sitting at a table saying "Shared Table" to say no. You sit at the table, you take your chances. Cooperation is passive, but non-cooperation is active; you'd have to actually say no to someone sitting next to a "Shared Table" sign.

Suggestion for High Table and other places--phase out disposables, sell take-along permanent cups at reasonable prices (with a handy, attractive place to put your name--maybe even have a label-maker on hand), and make the first drink in the permanent cup free.

Simcha Daniel Burstyn said...

Funny how this could never work in America: The famous Jerusalem hummous restaurant "Pinati" has a long line at lunch time, and the maitre d' sits you down at any one of the 10 tables, according to the size of your group. No matter if there are other people there. And as soon as a seat empties, the place is wiped and a new customer sits down. Once, before I had lived long in Israel, I opened a newspaper after finishing my hummous - the owner fairly flew at me, telling me that if I was finished, I could leave!