It was either terrible pub etiquette, or a low stakes con.
Two men get up, put on their coats, and slip out of the door. They leave two pint glasses on the table, each with less than an inch of beer.
After five minutes, a party turns up and spots the table. They hover for a minute before deciding to go for it.
They take the (not quite) empty glasses to the bar and get comfortable, ordering drinks, ordering food.
Then the two men return, after almost fifteen minutes. Astonished, aggrieved, they say: “Excuse me, but we were actually sitting there. We had beer left to drink.”
The new party at the table is mortified, even if it is plain that they know they’re being treated like mugs.
Reluctantly, they surrender the table and, through gritted teeth, say: “Let us buy you a drink…”
The bar staff, perhaps aware something odd is going on, step in and offer to replace the drinks on the house.
If it’s a scam, it’s a small one. What did they get? Most of a pint each. But when a pint costs more than a fiver, perhaps it’s worth it.
Maybe they do this every time they visit a pub, getting four or five free drinks over the course of an evening.
And if it’s not a scam… what on earth were they thinking?
We all know the rules.
You leave your coat. You leave a book on the table. You put a beer mat over the glass. You say to the people on the next table (us): “Can you keep an eye on our table?”
A nearly empty glass on a table only holds it for five minutes. Even a full glass probably only gets you twenty.
Pub people – was this a scam, or just bad manners? We’re intrigued to know about any low-level fiddles you’ve encountered.