Subject: Re: Shared tables?
Hi Ziners,

When we lived in Europe in the 1980's we were frequently asked by the wait staff if we minded sharing a table. This was usually when we were only one or two diners and mostly in the more casual restaurants.

We loved it. It gave us a chance to practice our language skills and it was often someone who knew the restaurant and we got lots of dining tips from them. Sometimes it would be tourists from out of the country and this was fun too.

Now whenever I'm dining alone I mention to the person seating me that I don't mind sharing a table if the place gets busy. I just think it's nice to do because one person at a table is often a problem at a restaurant. It seems to me that I get a better table and better service because I make the offer. I'm not often taken up on it, but it's been fun when I have been. So here are a few of my experiences:

In Boston on the night before the 1988 marathon, I ended up sharing a table with five coaches (men and women) who were taking a break from chaperoning a group of high school kids who were running the next day. Interesting to hear what is involved in that.

Another time (in a Connecticut hotel) I ended up having breakfast with three contractors who were on a job to search for underground hazzards in preparing a site for a shopping center. It was fascinating to hear about the equipment and techniques used to detect buried wires, sewerlines, etc. Another time, at the same hotel, I had lunch with a man and his wife who were getting into Web site design. At that time I was working for a Web site and they picked my brain to such an extent that they called it a "working lunch" and paid for mine.

And last year, during the Big East Women's Basketball Tourney in Hartford, CT, I shared a table with some Rutgers fans. They made the offer when they saw me come in by myself. Nice folks to do that since I was wearing a rival UCONN sweatshirt.

One bummer in all my years of doing this was in San Francisco back in the 1960's. In this case the waiter knew we were going to the theater after dinner and shortly after we were seated he asked if we'd share with another couple who were also going to a play. We agreed. They were dreadful. He complained about everything from the temperature of the wine to the consistancy of the whipped cream on his date's dessert. At the end of the meal he had gall to complain that the waiter rushed us. Since the curtain time required speedy service this was especially annoying. You won't be surprised to hear that he left a skimpy tip. (Later I saw his date in the restroom at the theater and she told me it was their "third and last" date.)

But that's the only time I've ever had a problem with sharing and since I've done it more times than I can count, I think it's definatly worth it to make the offer.

Martha in Connecticut