Monday, September 18, 2006

Tissues & Tables: Changing Bad Dining Habits

A fellow corporate counsel today shared with me about how objectionable he finds the way people "chope" seats by placing packets of tissues on the table in a food court or hawker centre.

The Coxford Singlish Dictionary defines "chope" as "to reserve or hold something for somebody" and it is "sometimes used in games to denote having attained a 'safe' position".

TalkingCock.Com has described this as one of the "60 signs you're a true Singaporean".

Others have labelled this practice "weird" or "bizarre". I too find this practice objectionable and selfish.

Clearly, it is something the Singapore Tourism Board appears to have concerns about too: "For safety’s sake, don't leave your belongings unattended. It’s easiest if someone stays behind to reserve – or as we say, 'chope' – the table."

Despite these reactions, I find it revolting how so many people just accept this bad habit and let it be.

I guess it's in our psyche to not rock the boat and let things be. This can only serve to worsen the situation.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world."

And I think we all agree we want a more positive world.


The major hawker centres and food courts can prohibit people from reserving tables with packets of tissues. They can also empower their cleaners to get rid of the packets of tissues.

It makes good business sense. It will increase sales of packets of tissues.


If you know of persons who book tables with packets of tissues, tell them to stop doing it.

When you next eat at a hawker centre or food court, sit at the table where a person has placed the packet of tissues.

If the person approaches you and says the table has been reserved, smile and reply you did not know. As a compromise, offer to share the table.

If the person persists to be rude, threatens or intimidates you - which has, very rarely, happened to some of of my friends - call the police or the security at the food court.

Dharmendra Yadav


Khirman said...

When I was in University, many students did the same thing to reserve seats in the library. I would just ignore the tissue packets. :)

Anonymous said...

Actually I am very in doubt who exactly is the one being rude here.
when people so-called "chow" seats in the hawker centres, it is only so that they can go and queue up for the food they wanted to eat. It is not as if they are chowing for tomorrow's lunch date. Therefore, I dun see anything wrong behind it.

Just because you and your co-workers come in groups or pairs and are later than the people who "chow" the seat, you think you deserved better privileges to that seat coz instead of a packet of tissue, you have a breathing human being. So people who dine or lunch alone are resigned to packeting their food and find a remote and isolated place to eat so that they will not be accussed of being rude.

As for people who can shout out that they ignore the tissues and think so proudly of themselves because of what they did, get a life.

Ng Yihao said...

Well, if I respect other people's tissue packets, and others respect mine too, it would be well for all, wouldn't it? It'll make life easy for the random lone soul dining in a crowded food court.

Then again, I don't do it, but I find the practice perfectly fine.