Table manners aren’t just for stuffy family functions. There is a proper etiquette to Brown dining, and the dining en masse nature of campus eateries doesn’t exempt you from basic table manners. Here are the three cardinal rules of on-campus dining:
DO NOT (excuse the caps) LEAVE THE TABLE MESSY WHEN YOU LEAVE.
The most common instance of this egregious behavior is at Jo’s. It’s understandable why people would leave the tables messy at Jo’s right around closing time on weekends. You’re blackout, and when the lights start flickering at 1:55 a.m., they trigger a zombie-like response within you: “mustt leavee jooos
eattt brainnnss.” In fact, you don’t even know whether someone is switching the light on and off or if you’re just about to lose consciousness. This confusion may lead to you abandon your table and thus throw your table manners out the window. As the wise sage R. Kelly once said, “[you’re] like ‘so what [you’re] drunk.'”
However, there’s really no excuse to leave a Jo’s table messy at any other time. Leaving the remnants of a breakfast burrito behind on a Tuesday for the staff to clean up is one of the ultimate table-related sins. Why exactly are you leaving a mess in the first place? Cleaning up a bit after you’re done eating is a simple courtesy to both the staff and students that want to enjoy their mozzarella sticks in the vicinity. C’mon, guys.
Don’t think that putting down your stuff at a table that has already been claimed gives you right to said table.
Common law in Rhode Island (probably) states that putting your coat down on a chair reserves the table attached to said chair. If it’s rush hour at the Ratty and all of the tables are occupied, it’s totally reasonable to ask a stranger if you can sit down with them for a quiet lunch. If the stranger is polite, the answer will probably be yes. What is totally unreasonable is to put your stuff down to lay claim to a table that already has someone else’s stuff on it.
This is not only rude, but it also shows weakness—you can’t summon the courage to ask to sit down with a fellow student, so you try a backhanded and sneaky method. Do you think that the person whose table you impolitely infringed on is not going to remember that you weren’t there when they put their coat down? Just ask next time.
Do not push together tables in the Ratty dining room.
Come on, y’all, this isn’t the Blue Room. We get it, you have a lot of friends. Trust us, you will survive an hour without all 25 of them.