A Petition To Be Seated Before My Party Is Complete

Have a seat.

Hi, I have a reservation for 7pm. No, my party is not complete, she’s in a Lyft and will be here in exactly nine minutes. I however, am on time and can see that you have my table (and 13 other tables in this establishment) prepared and ready to serve its purpose in life which is to be a table. While I understand it is this restaurant’s policy not to seat incomplete parties, please allow me a moment to express my thoughts on said policy, which are that it is bullshit.

Sit. Me. Down. I ask you, is there some trickery you think I’ve got afoot? Have I made a reservation for two when I’m actually just one? Do you need my witness to arrive here from Upper West Side traffic to confirm that I’m not a table grifter? Whew, ok, there’s someone else here, she wasn’t trying to sit at a table for two alone even though a table for two alone is just literally a table for one anyway because we don’t have tables smaller than tables for two other than the bar and if she was actually alone not legitimately in need of a table for two people she’d just sit at the goddamn bar but it’s okay, she’s proven she’s worthy of a table, her party is now complete.

I don’t appreciate being called a liar before I’ve had a dish of warm olives. That inherent skepticism brushes my body from bangs to boots as a host sizes up the truth in my “explanation” for why I’m standing in front of her by myself. “She’s in a cab,” instead of meaning that she’s a real human being who is literally on her way here right this second is interpreted by restaurant staff as “I have a criminal record and I’m going to pee on your floor.”

Complete parties who walk in the door together (usually because they fucking live together as a couple, you discriminatory fopdoodles) are greeted with warmth, positivity, and trust. I, a single woman who has to converge at meeting places with people if she wants to interact with others and who must trust that they’ll be there on time which they literally never are, am met with the veil of distrust upon entry. I just want to sit down at a goddamn table, I’m not trying to crack your vault.

You know what, Jennifer, it’s a pain in the ass to just get a drink at the bar. I don’t appreciate having to compress myself and my belongings into the one solitary stool remaining in between four gossipy coworkers and a Bumble date only to weasel myself out of that very situation a moment later. My dining companion will walk through the door before the bartender has finished pouring, which is clearly not yet enough time for me to have closed out an additional tab at this location, so guess what both me and my complete fucking party have to do again before we can sit down: wait—for the bartender to close out my tab for one dumbass glass of Chablis. Don’t worry, Jennifer, I tipped him.

What, honestly what, is the fear of seating me before my party has arrived? Are you concerned I will take up precious restaurant real estate capable of bringing in revenue for the nine (literally goddamn nine) minutes I would be sitting there alone? Bitch, you sell appetizers! You offer beverages! I would be spending money at that table even while staring at an empty chair. You know what’s not making you any money? A ghost table collecting dust and getting its forks stolen by the clumsy table across the aisle. Honestly sometimes I want to throw the Chablis right in your face, but it was $14.

Perhaps I’m throwing off your schedule. Maybe if I sit down before you’ve started the timer on my reservation’s acceptable time window, I’m shaking the snow globe of your perfectly balanced agenda. Let’s of course pretend that one human being sitting at a whole table alone doesn’t count as an actual restaurant patron. But since neither you or I have been imbued with the power to predict the future, you didn’t know what time I’d wrap up my evening anyway—so that argument is horse shit. Also there is a strong possibility I’m going to take 30 minutes longer than necessary to finish my last glass of wine and chat with my COMPLETE PARTY simply because I hate you.

In conclusion, I have selected your restaurant for my evening. I didn’t walk in out of desperation because everything else in the East Village has a sticky floor, my reservation suggests that the decision was premeditated. I think it’s safe to say that my intentions are to eat, not to do you harm. In the future, I would appreciate it if you could acknowledge that I have value to add to your establishment regardless of whether or not my dining companion for the evening is stuck on 7th Avenue. Acknowledge that your restaurant’s policy is both illogical and asinine. And that there is another way to refer to an incomplete party: a human being.

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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