One thing that seems to transcend the cultural and linguistic boundaries and therefore must either be a universal practice – at least one at the university age level – is the response to a dropped tray. I’m talking about a tray of food most often in a crowded cafeteria setting. We have all witnessed it, but hopefully it never happens to us. However, in at least three different universities which I have had the pleasure to eat in the cafeteria, when someone does have the misfortune to drop a tray – or the contents of it, signaled by the loud clatter of glass, ceramic and metal on the floor, the majority of the room will erupt into spontaneous applause.
Without fail. Sometimes all you need to do is drop a utensil and you will receive a light smattering of applause. It is just society’s way of telling you that it has noticed what you’ve done and if you feel bad about it, well, don’t drop your tray again. :)