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20-40-60 etiquette: Is it rude to save seats?

Is it rude to save seats? 20-40-60 etiquette answers, with Devonne Carter as guest.
by Helen Ford Wallace and Lillie-Beth Brinkman and Callie Gordon Published: September 30, 2013

QUESTION: Is it rude to save seats? I went to my child's band concert last night and there were rows and rows of parents saving seats for friends and family members. I noticed that some of the people came 30 minutes later or did not show up at all. Would it have been impolite of me to move over coats and purses and just sit down? I have noticed this at coffee shops too. People are saving seats for their friends who arrive 30 minutes later and no one else can find a seat? It makes me mad!

CALLIE'S ANSWER: Seems like you need to go early and save seats! I save seats at concerts, church and lunch. I will say it is impolite to save seats for someone who doesn't show. But it happens and things come up.

LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: Every time I go to a school event like this, people are saving seats. Sometimes I'm one of them, although I'm usually not early enough for the first row and I'm generally not saving that many — just for immediate family members. It is rude to save seats for people who never show up to an event, and, instead of moving their items over yourself, I think it's fine to ask if the seat is still taken if it doesn't appear that they are coming. A co-worker said that his personal philosophy is that you need a certain percentage of people present per number of seats saved — if you are saving nine seats, at least three people need to be there to save them. We came up with an algebraic formula to express this philosophy, but I don't think you need it to get the idea.

It depends on the situation, really. I think it's probably rude to save entire rows for people who may or may not come, but it's not a good idea to move people's personal items out of the way. “Two rudes don't make a polite,” as another co-worker, Heather Warlick, said in discussing this question. Keep in mind that other people are there for the same reason you are, and do the best you can to accommodate your late family members while not preventing other people from seeing the show.

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by Helen Ford Wallace
Society Editor
Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for...
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by Lillie-Beth Brinkman
Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman
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by Callie Gordon
Freelance Writer
Callie Gordon, a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, is working at Chesapeake Energy in the Environment, Health, and Safety Department. She was previously an event coordinator for Chesapeake Energy.
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