Why do people get somewhere early, park themselves at the end of the row and then glare when someone asks to get by? Has this not happened to you? In a concert or church or anywhere with open seating. I realize they want the prized “end seat” so they can be first out and perhaps get out of the parking lot ahead of the other thousands of people, but surely they understand that when they sit at the end of the row, other people are going to need to get past them. So why do they get so upset when you ask to get by?
It happened again this morning in church. A woman had parked herself at the end of an empty row and simply sat there as I stood mutely for a few seconds, waiting for her to make eye contact. She didn’t, so I finally said, “excuse me, could I get by?” You’d have thought I’d asked her to donate a kidney. She somewhat huffed, and then grudgingly shifted her knees a couple of inches, so I could squeeze by. I wanted to glare at her, but since this was church, I smiled instead. But I was glaring on the inside! Selfish cow. I should be ashamed to say (but am not) that Fifi bumped her as we passed. Fifi, if you don’t know, is my little oxygen carrier. About the size of a wine bottle — perhaps a magnum — and weighs about the same. Fifi has a mind of her own. Fifi does not like rude people. You go Fifi!
Now when I say the row was empty, that wasn’t exactly true. There was another woman stationed at the opposite end of the pew, effectively blocking the entire row. Was it a conspiracy? Happenstance? A plot of some kind? Who knows.
Have you ever been someplace where the MC has asked people to move closer together — move to the middle of the row. “People are still coming in. Would you please all move toward the center?” My word, you would think they’d been asked to toss their wallet into the collection basket. They manage to shift a few inches with a put-upon air as though they are making an enormous concession. They’re only moving a few inches from the end of the row and you would think it was the end of their world.
I remember my first job as receptionist at the Hollywood Bowl. The offices also handled all the LA. Philharmonic tickets and I remember the frenzy over the season tickets. It was there I first learned about the prized end seats. And yes, it was so that the people could pop up the minute the concert was over and head to their car. Heaven forbid some of those other 1,200 people should get ahead of them. Oh, and then there were the patrons who insisted on tickets on the left side of the auditorium. The reason? So they could see the keyboard when there was a pianist. Mr. Lieberman, who was the Artistic Director, simply snorted, “they just want something to watch to keep from falling asleep.”
As for people who somehow think it’s their God-given right to monopolize an entire empty row, they probably will never change so I should learn not to fret about it. I suppose Fifi has the right idea, but I won’t always have Fifi with me. I might have to resort to something else — perhaps a little stumble which threatens to land me in their lap, or a light tread on a foot that hasn’t been tucked back quite far enough.
Well, I’ll think of something. I have until next Sunday.