34. Tables & Chairs

Anthropometry is the concept of all things being designed to suit the size of man.  For example, mobile phones are built to the size that they are and not the size of barn doors so that they can fit inside pockets and actually be mobile.  Pens are the size of pens so they can be used by the individual; they are not the size of a Rhinoceros.

I have been to many countries in my life.  I’ve been to the USA, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Belgium, Spain, Oman…and more…and the one thing all these places have in common is that when I sit down for dinner in a restaurant, the chair matches the ratio of the table.  But here in the UAE I constantly find myself snookered.

I don’t understand this little niggling issue with the UAE, I seldom find myself sitting down to dinner in a restaurant or café and find that I am able to fit comfortably.  I like to go to some weird, semi-kitsch themed café place with my girlfriend once or twice a week for some lunch or coffee.  The first challenge is to find a table big enough for 2 plates.  This is a lot harder than it sounds but sometimes we are just about successful.  If we both want a drink with our food however, then a second table is needed.

Insufficient table size is one thing, but the killer point is that the table is often too low for the chair…or the chair is too high for the table, whatever.  So there you are with the table resting on your knees…it’s a stance that can only last for so long.  I’m 6ft tall so I suffer more so when I move back to allow the blood flow to return to my legs.  But then I find that I’m miles away from the table and have to borrow a shovel so I can reach over with it and ferry my food from the plate to my mouth.

It’s not just there.  My local bars in Al Ain also suffer from this phenomenon.  The chairs in one place are sturdy wooden beasts with arms…but these arms act as buffers so you can’t move your chair in closer to the table so most of your steak and potatoes ends up on your lap.

Another place I frequent has several high tables with bar stools around them.  The stools are actually ok, for the taller person.  But the tables – and I’m not making this up – are so high I can just about rest my chin on them.  My poor girlfriend – who is just over 5ft tall – says

Excuse me…hello. Hi. Yeah have you got a beer mat I can use? This chair wobbles slightly…

she feels like she is walking through a forest.  This makes both eating and drinking very difficult indeed.

This is something I have only experienced in the UAE.  I’d love to meet with the people who made the decisions in these circumstances.  Who thought that having bar stools around a table that measures 45ft high was a good idea?  Who decided that having the arms act as buffers was going to make things more comfortable?  It’s not comfortable when you sit down and have to rely on UPS to ship your food from the table to your face…what are we going to do?

We need to – together – start flagging this issue up with the ground staff; the waiters and waitresses.  If we nag, moan and complain often enough then the matter will eventually be taken to the decision makers.  We must also use our vote: the customer service feedback questionnaire.  Get it down in ink that you are writing on the waiters back right now because the table is too far away…and you’re dotting the “I’s” as gently as you can.  You can’t ignore the cries of the masses forever, just ask Colonel Gaddaffi…

Right then, moan over.  I’m off out for lunch…with a hydraulic jack and a hacksaw…

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