'Chope' culture

Encourage table sharing, not confrontation

Ms Inderjit Kaur's suggestion that foodcourt patrons ignore the objects placed by others to "chope" seats is not only impractical, but could also be interpreted as a provocative act that could lead to volatile situations between diners (Don't put up with 'choping'; Aug 26).

Visit a foodcourt during peak lunch and dinner hours, and one can be wandering around with a tray of hot food and not find a seat, which explains why people use items to reserve seats.

I wonder if Ms Kaur's tactic actually works.

The solution is not to encourage confrontation but to cultivate civic-mindedness and table sharing.

Hong Kong is much more densely populated than Singapore, but people there have learnt that sharing a table is mandatory and a single diner occupying one table alone is unacceptable.

It may not be comfortable having to eat at the same table with several strangers, but it's a matter of getting used to such a practice. I think nothing of it when visiting Hong Kong.

Ignoring or removing items placed by others to reserve their seats does not foster the kind of gracious society we try so hard to build.

However, if such a measure is deemed necessary to compel table sharing, at least at the start, then perhaps the foodcourt staff should do that, not the customers themselves.

It may not be comfortable having to eat at the same table with several strangers, but it's a matter of getting used to such a practice.

Foodcourt operators should also encourage diners to eat and go, instead of hogging a table for longer than necessary.

Those who wish to linger and chat can be politely persuaded by foodcourt staff to patronise other establishments designed for customers to do so.

Michael Loh Toon Seng (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 28, 2017, with the headline 'Encourage table sharing, not confrontation'. Print Edition | Subscribe