While we were watching the St. George’s Day scout parade in Chandler’s Ford last week, we killed time between the parades by going to the posh-person’s supermarket to do a bit of shopping and have a coffee.
The shopping part of the expedition was successful. We soon found the few items that we needed. Not so the coffee part, however. The queue was long and not moving very quickly. And a quick glance at the seating area suggested that we would be lucky to find a table.
The problem? Table hogging – by people who had no food or drink. Something that, as I slowly approach the age of a grumpy old man, I find increasingly annoying.
You know the scenario: the shop is busy and there’s a bit of a queue. Someone says “I’ll go and grab a table.” NO NO NO. Tables should be taken in the same order as people queue at the counter. Anything else is queue-jumping. And if the café has worked out its queue theory correct, there is no need.
Queue Theory is a branch of statistics that I remember touching on at A-level (but can’t remember much about it other than my maths teacher telling us that the Café at the National Theatre has it just right as you can always find a table no matter how busy it appears to be).
You work out the likely number of customer and how long they are likely to stay and this tells you how many tables you need. If it is calculated correctly, no one needs to “grab a table” – in fact, grabbing a table makes it worse as it messes the calculations up.
Of course, it could also be that the St George’s Day parade has messed the calculations up – Waitrose hadn’t expected so many people to come in at the same time.
In the end we gave up and went to the King Rufus, where there were lots of tables and the coffee came with a small complimentary biscuit.