Biting nails is a terrible habit that I let go of, with a lot of difficulty, when I grew up. And yet, I caught myself resorting to it only too naturally in the frustration of having to wait for a table at a restaurant, this weekend. Now, the people who are jabbing away at their phones happily, during the waiting and all through dinner, might not relate to this frustration; but many others will. The peak of exasperation is when you’re driving around trying to find out which restaurant will require you to wait the least amount of time for a table; and then your snarling hunger pangs make you realize that in the time you spent driving around, you could have got a table at that first restaurant. And if you have kids, God help you!
Then again, there are ways to ease this vexation. These are the few that I have figured out –
Make reservations beforehand: Most people who end up waiting to get a table haven’t mastered the habit of doing this before. It’s always better to book a table in advance at the restaurants that do take reservations. It’s advisable to call almost a day in advance if it’s a restaurant that is popular. If you like it then you should’ve called the dibs on it.
Look for interesting places around it: While you’re on the way to the restaurant or before you leave, look for bars, bookstores or shops around the restaurant. Upon reaching, you can leave your name and number written with the host and ask them to notify you once your table is ready. Until then, you can enrich your soul via any of the options given above.
Carry along a book: Well, if it’s just you, the book idea helps. But if it’s you with the kids, then the book idea saves you. Nothing like a good story to make the time fly. You and your partner could do voices and gather an audience, some of who are so impressed that they let you go ahead. It’s a risky move when it’s just you and your partner but why not try? You’ve got the time and it’s not like there’s a reservation you’ve got to rush to make it in time for.
Games: The sheer number of times I roll my eyes and make excuses whenever my niece looks at me expectantly and says “Let’s play a game?” is cruel! But she’s my hero when we’re waiting to get a table at a restaurant. Antakshari, dumb charades, word association, memory games, clapping games and even tic tac toe with straws and sugar and spice sachets – they all provide unlimited entertainment. So getting too embarrassed to try them out is not advised. If you’re just the right amount of social embarrassment, the universe might just conspire to get you a table, have you eating and getting out of the restaurant as soon as possible.
Decide what to eat: Ask to see the menu and narrow down on all that you’re planning to order so that your hunger pangs don’t tear open your stomach in the time it takes for everyone to decide what they want, once you finally get a table. However, if this ends up making you hungrier and the wait gets more difficult, settle for talking to the people around you. If they have been here before, ask them what would be good to order here. Ask the host for chef’s recommendations too. This way the food will be officially worth the wait.