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Think Tactical When Picking Your Seat

by George Wehby   |  June 13th, 2011 36

We all dine out. It could be a five star restaurant or a fast food joint. Sometimes we get to pick our seating area, other times we cannot. Whenever given the opportunity to choose where to sit in a restaurant, I suggest you use the following two tips when taking your decision.

1. Being that if some sort of crime is going to be committed, it is probably going to be somewhere near the entrance and will probably center around where they keep the money. It is my suggestion to sit in such a way as to have a good view of the front entrance and away from where most monetary transactions take place.

2. Another point to consider is a secondary exit from the building, such as a back door or side door. If things break bad, you have an avenue of getting away from the danger. If there are no alternate exits available, look for a large window to smash out. I know that sounds extreme, but it’s better to have a plan and not need one, than to need a plan and not have one.

There are numerous other options to consider, but these will be fun to play with for now. Stay safe.

  • Scott Mayer

    When George and I go to the local sushi place for lunch, he sits in the corner near the back exit and I sit to his side between him and the front door. You know what that means? I'm his cover! LOL!

    • http://Cox Butch

      As a Vietnam vet, I went to PTSD groups for several years. After group, we went for coffee and the instructor, one day, pointed out that we always sat in the corner, and there was a rush for the ABSOLUTE corner seat. It was then that we realized how paranoia (justified or not) controlled many of our actions. I still, after over a quarter century, still naturally seek the corner seat.

  • BPsniper

    And that he can have a conversation with you and watch the front door at the same time. Multi-tasking.

  • robert38-55

    Nice tip fellas especially in todays scene!! One never knows now a days, unlike the days of old.

    • http://jkay George

      Days of old? Like when people had gunfights in the town square?

  • Jayhawker

    Good advice! "Getting the lay of the land" and considering "what if?" wherever you are is an important aspect of situational awareness and common sense preparation…

  • Martin-A

    Been doing this for 50 years. Ever since I left SF. Good advice & doesn't hurt to be aware of surroundings.

  • bobbyrlf3

    This is a basic tenet of personal safety, and a part of my standard procedure. But, I can't get my wife to take it seriously. Go figure.

    • Robert M

      No surprise. I've urged women to seek some personal defense classes and take steps to be aware of their environment in light of a prowling rapist in our community.

      I thought it was actually comical when several of them accused me of blaming the victim. In their eyes there was nothing that can be done to stop a rapist, and even saying there was meant, to them, that I thought it was their fault for getting brutalized.

      And honestly, as I replied, yeah, sometimes it IS your fault, regardless of gender, if your actions convey an open invitation to be victimized. Most SANE women I know would look at the facts and say, "hmm, If I watch my back, stay aware of my surroundings, learn to defend myself effectively, and mainly REFUSE TO BE A VICTIM, it seriously lowers my changes of being victimized, and in the chance that I am, I'll be prepared to the best of my ability to respond by defending myself"

      I would hope that any thinking woman would read the above sentence to themselves and say, duh, why WOULDN'T I do those things.

      As I was castigated for even mentioning, the truth is YOUR PERSONAL SAFETY IS ALWAYS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY.


    Here's a plan for step two. You've seated yourself correctly, but your options end there. The bad guy is going from table to table collecting watches, wallets, etc. When he gets to your table, have whoever is with you fake a heart attack. This is a diversion that the bad guy will not expect, and he'll have to think for a moment about how to react to it. If you've carried out enough drills at home, this should be all the time you need to bring Roscoe into the picture.

    This assumes a situation where there is no other option, like the famous Luby's restaurant case, where the dirtbags were going from table to table shooting people, and they're headed your way.

    • Gerry B.

      I am hoping to have roscoe in hand before he get to the table.

  • TBPollock

    Am I cognizant of situational awareness? You betcha! Do I choose my position in a location? You betcha! Do I carry a gun? You betcha!

    How do I feel about all that? It brings tears to my eyes. I grew up in a better world in America. I'm 71. I hitch hiked across America in the 50's without a care in the world, nor did I need to have one.

    It's all gone. Where did it go?

    So now we hunker down in "situational awareness" locations in restaurants, where we used to be able to go without a care in the world.

    All the kings horses and all the kings men and all the CCW's will never be able to put America back together again.

  • Paul Miller

    It's always good to be able to watch both front, and back exits. Just in case an accomplice is covering or entering through the back.

  • Mark, PR

    You are so right TBPollock, I'm 61 and after a sting in Nam, I never gave a thought about being arm. That is until a Hurricane came and I saw the looting. Things are bad all over; that's why these tips are very important. Please George Wehby keep them coming.

  • Roger

    That's how Wild Bill Hitchcock got it in the back.

  • Hugh

    Its especially important if you are going to "carry concealed".

    Ive made it a point never to put my back towards the front door and being left handed I consider that too, if I ever had to draw my weapon.

  • ken

    Good luck in smashing your way through a large display window ! Many times bullets (hit harder than I can ever hope to imaghine !) barely penetrate then leaving only small holes not shattering any people-sized escape hole ! Oh well when that runaway automobile comes xcrashing into your table you will have ample space to exit if yo0u survive.

    • gwehby

      Well when I was a Cop, I saw many a TA (Trading As, aka Local Business) windows knocked out. Maybe yours are tougher than ours, who knows.

  • Hugh

    I might like to add one thing, never let the waitress take your menu after you order. If the asshole comes around collecting wallets you could hide your piece behind the menu and just shoot him in the balls as he walks up to your table.

  • John Leap

    Hey therw

  • Doug, Virginia

    My wife loves the fact that this is how we pick our seats in a resteraunt. She knows that it is something to think of when she is out with our children and I'm not there.

  • Bikersteve

    No matter where I go, I have one main rule: NEVER have your back to the door.Some nut comes in with a weapon & you'll be the last to know! Being able to see what is coming can give you a few precious seconds to make a move.Some of my friends think I'm a bit paranoid, but that's ok. Better safe than sorry. "Always be aware of your surroundings". Bikers live by this mantra.

  • http://Odes Allen

    Good advice from all. As a 20 yr. restaurant owner and CCW person let me add a little insight from the food service world. My place has always been an independant/upscale casual/fine dineing/award winning place so this advice won't apply to Fast Food. (FF) Smashing out a window probably won't be an option as the windows are ususlly covered with blinds, louvers, etc. Look for a back exit to a patio, or just a back exit with the fire alarm bar across the door. Setting it off as you exfil might be enough to scare off a bad guy. In a nice place the wait staff will have a "wait station" (the place where they get your drinks, coffee, etc) and it will be near a door to the kitchen; a swinging door or maybe twin swinging doors. There is always a back door in the kitchen, where the staff comes in a deliveries are made. If you have to burst into the kitchen to get out beware that the floor will be slick. (even in a 5* place) so you might fall. Let the kitchen staff know what is up and also be aware that they don't take kindly to customers on their turf; they also have 12" knives, heavy pots, and hot saute pans all around as weapons. If you help them they will help you. In a bad case the staff/owner can be your best friends and assets if you just communicate in a professional manner. Oh…and stay out of fast food places anyway, the food is crap and if you HAVE to get it for expediance sake, use the drive through.

    • Scotty

      Best additional advice from a man in the aforementioned type of business! As a vendor I go into a large number of restaurants and other establishments and am always aware of any other way out in case of emergency. Unfortunately, company rules (and common sense, too) make CC impossible while on the job. Helping others avoid danger and/or death should always be part of this drill, even if its only reward is a "thank you."

    • Landon Meyer

      From a worker bee in one of those resturaunts, everything stated is absolutely true!!! Feel free to let us know a crazy is blasting the place and we will do what we can to help. It is very well we might not know, kitchens are extremely loud and many people are concentrating or in robo-mode making food and going about their jobs and whatnot.

  • John Larson

    160 people were recently killed by tornado's who live in a known area of high likelihood of having your legs and arms ripped off with zero notice. I find your exit plan stupid because if you are in the path of death it won't matter. It brings back sitting in the back of a plane or to live or not to live along a fault line. Just like final destination, death will find you. "Breaking a window and jumping to safety from a gun wielding thug"?

    No my little scarred cockroach, you calmly pull out your beloved sidearm and pump the problem with a satisfying thump thump thump until you hear their final thump and watch the dead stinking carcass hit the carpet bounce twice and and go splat. One more disease erased from the human race. You should maybe try writing about ruffled pansies in inclement weather and leave exit strategies to the end of my 454.

    • gwehby

      First of all you are trolling. Second, you will not always have the opportunity to carry, so at least thinking of other options to exit a structure cannot hurt. Try not miss the fittest for the trees. Third, if you grisly believe in this inevitable fate, why take medicine, brush your teeth or carry a firearm at all?

  • gwehby

    PS Auto correct is a pain.

  • G-rant

    Good advice in general, but the window idea is at best risky and at worst dangerously flawed.

    1.smashing a glass window will cost you money, but more importantly you could cut yourself badly on shards of glass as you try to escape- this is assuming you can get the glass to break properly.

    2. This is not Hollywood. In the 21st century many windows are made of plexiglass or feature coatings that make them very difficult to break. If you attempt to escape by breaking one of these more modern windows, you will only die tired. In a real-world situation you will often not have the time to figure out whether nearby windows are shatter-proof.

    Given the two points above, you should just stick with doors as your avenue of escape from a restaurant. In place of the window idea, I would add hiding in the restrooms as an alternative, since most criminals will avoid restrooms in an effort to hasten their escape following a robbery.

    • Robert M

      "If you attempt to escape by breaking one of these more modern windows, you will only die tired"

      Contrasted against the alternative, passively waiting to die at the hand of another, I'd probably take my chances. Better to die tired than die wishing you'd expended the effort to become tired.

      Come on, refuse to be a victim.

  • Mike K.

    Well said advice… learn it, live it… I always do… subconsciously I've been doing this for years… after all of the crap that got relocated to Houston, after Hurricane Katrina,… sorry, you have be to be responsible for yourself.

    When seconds count, police are only moments away !

  • Reginald

    I never sit with my back to the door. I got that bit of advice from Malcolm X's book while in college.

  • RG

    This is simple tactical SITREP. We went over this extensively in MARSOC when I was in Force Recon. Its common sense tactical awareness of your surroundings & potential & possible threats & random occurences that CAN & DO happen. It's always a great idea to think of angles of cover & fire, escape.

  • David Worley

    One of the best phrases I have ever held onto in most situations, being it a fire, police action, or even going out to eat is "survey the scene." Always look things over and have a reaction plan. Keep this phrase in your mind and use it every time you're out or even at home.

  • Tanstaafl2

    I find it amusing that my kids are all well aware that I always get the seat facing the door when eating out. Since they all want to sit next to mommy, as soon as they figure out where my seat is, they know where she'll be sitting and there's a mad scramble to get the seats next to her before anyone else can get them.

  • Landon Meyer

    Whenever im out to dinner, and usually its with the woman, i go against what the hostess says and always take the seat facing the entrance to the establishment after i have glanced over the place i am about to turn my back to. My woman knows i do it, and she found it funny at first and gradually understood that im not paranoid, just looking out for us. Now she takes the seat facing away from the entrance as the norm, and trusts me to look out for her. Dont get paranoid, but there is no reason to not be safe.

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