We stopped for a cup of tea in Waitrose’s cafe in Bury St. Edmunds this morning. It’s a decent-sized cafe with quite a few tables and chairs. However, tables for four placed around the edges of the room were already taken by one person sitting at each table. Nobody sat at tables in the middle of the room. We stood at the back of the queue and waited to order our drinks. When anybody left their seat at a table around the edge, it was immediately taken by the next person waiting in the queue.

Sam and I sat in the middle of the room and came up with some theories as to why nobody wanted to sit in the middle:

  1. Feeling too exposed as though everyone else is looking at them?
  2. Their backs are against the wall and so they don’t have to worry about being attacked from behind?
  3. So that they can stare at the ones in the middle whilst they sit with smug expressions around the edges?

Would I have chosen a table around the edge if one had been available? Yes, I would have. It’s strange… I know I’m not going to be attacked sitting in a cafe in Bury St. Edmunds, but you do feel more exposed if you sit in the middle. A psychologist would have an explanation for all this, I’m sure. Vlad the Impaler has long gone, and I don’t have to look over my shoulder in case he’s coming, but I would automatically have nabbed a table around the edge, preferably in one corner.

I’ve noticed this phenomenon in other places too. We went into another cafe last week where our granddaughter works at weekends, and it was just the same – every table around the edge had been taken.

Do you go for a table around the edge of a room in a cafe/restaurant, or are you happy to sit in the middle?