For me, the issue of hashing, or reserving space, is pretty straightforward (Rethinking the Practice of “Hashing” in Common Spaces, August 15; and Rules About Hashing Not Applicable in All Situations, August 18) . When I see an umbrella spread out on a table or a packet of tissues on the table, they tell me that someone was there before me – so they are ahead of me in the queue for the table, and also in the queue waiting for food.
If I had gone in line to eat and wandered around looking for a table, it’s not the fault of the person who prioritized things the other way.
We just need to learn to deal with the perceived evils of hashing.
The biggest issues contributing to overcrowding are inconsiderate patrons who hang around and chat long after their meal is finished while others fuss over seats, as well as rude patrons who place extra packets of tissues around them to prevent other customers from sitting near them.
In the 1950s, when movie theaters had empty seats, my mother chose seats for her friends by tying handkerchiefs around the armrests between the seats.
In the 1960s, patients who arrived before the government clinics opened lined up leaving empty bottles outside the clinics (at the time, patients had to provide bottles to the government in exchange for the drugs they would receive later). They then sat in the shade nearby to wait.
Today, long queues can form at polyclinics each morning before they open. Perhaps the sick and the elderly who have trouble keeping their place in the queue should be allowed to choose their place while waiting.
Chow Hon Meng