I’ll never forget my first American restaurant experience. I completely disregarded the inconspicuous sign near the entrance “Please wait to be Seated”, walked to an unoccupied table and sat down, and waited … and waited … and waited. Getting more nervous by the minute, I unsuccessfully tried to raise the attention of a waiter. People from neighboring tables started looking at me, probably thinking I just arrived from 5,000 years ago via time travel or so. Finally I decided to leave the place … and noticed the sign by the entrance. I felt too embarrassed to try again.
Had I grown up in the former German Democratic Republic, the “Please wait to be Seated” sign would surely not have overlooked by me, because it was standard procedure there, although using the much less polite phrase: “Hier warten, Sie werden platziert” (Wait here, you will be seated).