Monday, May 08, 2006

Rules Of The Game

Any resemblance to persons living or otherwise is purely coincidental.

This comic is my stab at the weirdness of the so-called 'unwritten rule'.

I'm definitely not the first to blog about how some women in Singapore (not sure about women in other countries though) use packets of tissue to 'reserve' a table at foodcourts and fastfood joints.

On some days, it's really difficult to get a seat in the foodcourt and you see these empty tables with packets of tissue on them, indicating the tables are 'reserved'. Hell. Strangely, everyone seem to acknowledge this 'rule'. Me? I have no wish to get myself embroiled in a squabble and ruin my mood to eat. But I sure hope to see someone with nothing to lose challenge these women one of these days.


Damien Wang said...

Let's not forget those who use handphones to 'chop' seats in public places. Surprisingly, some of them feel indignant when they discover that their handphones get stolen!

the tooth fairy said...

Yes! I had never quite understood the "tissue paper chop-ing" phenomenon. Lived abroad in the states for a number of years, and now living in another Asian country, and I've yet to come across people in these places doing likewise.

Think it's a weird and silly "unwritten rule". Technically, why should you be allowed to "chope" seats in a public foodcourt? Shldn't it be first-come, first-served i.e. the person who first comes with a steaming bowl of soup gets to sit in the first available seat? You end up seeing poor souls carrying trays of food, searching desperately for seats while there are so many "empty" tables ard.

If you really have to "chope" seats, coz you and your 10 colleagues simply HAVE to eat at the same table together, then at least ask someone to sit at the table to politely inform others that the table is taken. Don't leave a packet of tissue behind and EXPECT pple to know.

Jee said...

lol funny.. this is news for me.

I bet if I haven't read this and go to Singapore, I would have take the pack of tissue, sit down and thank lord.. and then some cats fight perhaps with the ladies.

s0nix said...

i thot this is a long-lost phenomenon. :)

till i saw a guy smiling at me when i approach an empty table wif a packet of tissue on it.

Singapore has many interesting people. :)

Wuching said...

i'll take this up, i've never heard of such rule so i'll just take the seat. first come first served, a fricking pack of tissue doesn't count ur first!

Esdee said...

I always thought this "chopping" of seats with tissue was just a big joke. Then I went to Raffles Place to meet my two guy friends for lunch.

At the Yoshinoya there .. we found seats. Then they proceeded to take out two tissue packets to chop the seats!!! Wah liew ... I really blur there leh!!! They say it's like a culture there. Gosh!

sharlet said...

Nice one! :)

In order to avoid this "phenomenon", I usually lunch 1-2 hours after the usual office hour lunchtime. :D No queues, no crowd, and the stall holders are friendlier (and might give you more! Haha!) cos they're not so busy. :)

Anonymous said...

although it is a regrettable practice, i don't like the sexist generalization being made here.

Pinkposh said...

Hahaha I noticed this, I follow the rule. I told myself I'm gonna try this one day but never got round to doing that cuz dun have habit of bringing tissues.

Using handphone is a bit silly isn't it?

sieteocho said...

I use a packet of condoms.
Nobody takes it because it is extra small sized.

Tym said...

I think the "chope"-ing technique is more of a downtown Raffles Place-type practice. Also, it prevails in the more crowded hawker centres/coffeeshops.

I've definitely seen guys do it. Girls just get saddled unfairly with the stereotype because they tend to carry their tissue packets visible, not hidden in pants pockets like guys!

I have yet to see a showdown between tissue-pack person and someone who usurps their seat though!

sibehjialat said...

How typical of Singaporeans :)

(and no, this is not going the usual way...)

Instead of feeling special about something unique in Singapore, we complain instead.

What's so good about this tissue thing?

1. Singaporeans are "cultured" enough to respect this "rule"

2. Ladies like to "huddle together" even when buying food, so this allows them to do that no?

3. If it's one packet tissue, one seat, why not? Assume scenario of two. If they come first, it's either

A go buy B chope seats, then B go buy while A waits for B (food getting cold), then eat together.


A and B put tissue to chope seats, go buy together, eat together.

Guess which scenario frees up the seats faster? And the seats will STILL be choped regardless, either by human or tissue.

4. Added reason for guys to bring tissue along, good for hygiene (you don't want to know) and for backup tissue.

5. If you are REALLY in need of tissue in a hurry...

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Why are u bashing women? Guys do it too.

Jay said...

thank goodness it doesn't happen in my poly. reason? the cleaners would just pick it up and throw. what the students do instead is use their bags, laptop and whatnots to reserve the tables.

DK said...

But the person who placed the tissue there reach the table 1st. So what is wrong with that? You can't expect the person to buy the food then hunt for table with a tray on hand right?

Or would you prefer someone in the grp to stay back to look after the seat? Make not much diff to me actually. In fact, tat would mean the person who stay back will finish the food later.... thus, u guys need to wait longer.

fortycalibernap said...

in these parts they save parking spaces on the street with chairs. no mistaking the intent with hardware like that.

i suppose if i wanted to i could go on a cultural jag over the difference between a tissue and a chaise lounge.

Anonymous said...

A colleague used to relax to me this incident about a foreginer taking over a seat chopped with tissue pack. The lady was angry about when she returned to her reserved table. The foreginer told her that how he expect to know such a rule and even offer her to sit on his lap if she wants to!

BTW I even came across man doing the chopping with tissues.

I really wonder who taught them this rules?

I myself not going to pass this stupid rules to my son

lawrence said...

Hey, nice blog and entries you have! Keep up the good work! =) I've linked you in my blog too.. Interesting blog you have. =)I love your comics illustrations. =D

Anonymous said...

Well, if anything, this rule can make all those guys remember to bring their own tissue paper.
Anyway, I wonder if any of u are really working in Raffles Places whatever. Basically, it is really difficult to get a seat in those places, especially if u are alone and not in group. So if u are going to be so dumb as to buy a bowl of soup noodles, then walk around like an idiot to find ur seat. Then it's because u are too much of an idiot.
Btw, if they place the tissue there, it jolly well means very much that the person is there before u, so it is very much first come first serve.

Ah 9 said...

i believe this habit started in primary schools...when seats and tables are free for all the students to choose, putting a bag or water bottle shows the particular is taken.

Think all these 'seat-choping' habit has been ingrained then. Normally i avoid lunching during office hours, the crowd is simply rabid.

Never tried using a pack of tissues to reserve seats before, but i had tried using my bag. (only when im alone and seats are scarce).

I think bags are more effective than tissue papers...coz the next person have a fear of being accused of stealing something...then again whoever brings a bag to lunch during work...quite cumbersome. Hahahaha

Most likely to see such cases in town or commercial areas. Only yesterday i saw someone chope a table in McDonalds using an umbrella. Haaaa

Mr Sanguine said...

I think you've just given me my next idea for my next local photodocumentary subject... silly Singaporean habits.

Venitha said...

I've never noticed people in other countries doing this - most places I think you would leave one person at the table to reserve it.

the spear carrier said...

You yourself have submitted to this "unwritten rule" when you dare not take over the seat in order to avoid getting embroiled in a squabble and ruin your mood to eat.

If everyone start to ignore these tissue packs as indication of reservation of seats, those uncivilised ladies will accept that it doesn't work. Then again, our dear atas Singaporean ladies may start using their sanitary pad packages to ward off people who intend to ignore their "unwritten rule".

I always ignore such tissue packet seat reservation tactics and proceed to take over the seat, especially if I am alone. I love to see them throwin disgusted looks and killer stares at me when they return to find their tissue packets failing to perform their duty...

A.O. said...

To the spear carrier: I admire your spirit. Next time when you decide to challenge these ladies again during a meal, drop me a mail. I'll see if I can join you as a civilian observer.

Anonymous said...

Funny how you brandished something completely fair as rude and uncivilised ?

Rule. chop the seat first before you let your uncontrollable grubby hands buy food.

A.O. said...

To 'anonymous' directly above this comment:

Just a note that I didn't mention the words 'rude' and 'uncivilised' in my entry. You defined that behaviour, not me.

rationalneurotic said...

one.... it's not only women! that has got to change!

two.... there was once I was waiting for my friends to buy food back. Suddenly someone just sat at a chair at my table. I told her nicely, "Auntie, that is taken." Then she said, "Cannot chope like that one!" I was like... what?

third.... there was another time where 4 of us were at a table and 1 of them left to buy ice-kachang... and one man just sat down immediately. We told him that our friend had just left to buy ice-kachang when he said, "You never chope." =_='''

then I started to just tabao. Haha

Stormtrooper's Lackey said...

I agree that this unwritten rule only exist in the CBD area. The reason why only tissues are used is perhaps due to its insignificant monetary value, unless some goondus decide to leave their handphones behind.

PS: Hi ao, hope you can do a parody of the irritating weight loss advertisement where this lady stopped in front of some treadmill running folks and mutter the phrase: "Wo zhen zai shou sheng". :)

Miffy said...

It will never works in HK.

Anonymous said...

Wait till you meet those who routinely 'chomp' seat with their car keys. Anyone wants a freecar ride..hop down to maxwell market.

BTW, I am a female and thankfully I never brought myself to that level of rudeness yet. I don't understand the mentality of 'chomping. If you lunch in a group, ask your friends to buy for you while you glued your butt to the seat and tell those office gals/boys who unceremoniously dropped that offensive tissue pack even when you are sitting there that the seats are all taken.

insert evil laugh. ya, make them squirm

Anonymous said...

HECK YEAH. If I ever pop down to Singapore and see a packet of tissues on an empty table, I'm taking the table if I need it. And then use the tissues too as suggested by today's comic strip. I have nothing to lose.

1) There are no signboars proclaiming this rule.

2) I can stare down any corporate drone or tai-tai. If they make noise, they are the ones who would look stupid. They can scream, and shout, all you have to do is - look at them back and not respond. People will see how lunatic they are, when you yourself are calm.

In fact, they would probably just keep quiet and look for another table.

3) It's fun to see how they would respond.

Zim said...

Basically, if you're looking for seats and the place is crowded, you'll feel uncharitable to all kinds of "chope-ing" behaviour. But I tend to subscribe to the view that the tissue pack guys and girls were actually there first. If everyone bought first and then looked for their seats, those people there before you would still be eating when you start looking for you seat, no? Then instead of standing around looking for a seat, you're standing around holding a bowl of laksa which is rapidly cooling down...
And from the POV of someone who habitually asks other people to go buy their food while I hold the table, the efficiency argument also holds true: we do spend longer just to finish eating...

On a tangent, don't you just hate those guys who like to hold long conversations after dinner at crowded places like chomp-chomp? There's the place to observe the unwritten rules of table reservation.

boon said...

I just saw this entry..

I think this is a GREAT rule.

1. You can buy your food with peace of mind, knowing that you already have a seat secured. No need to walk around with a tray, frantically searching for a seat.

2. No colleague needs to be sacrificed and wait behind for the others to come back.

3. As some pointed out, it is first come first served.

I think the people who object to this practice are those who eat alone. Poor things..

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