I love people watching. Last weekend, the people watching happened at a coffee shop.
I went in at 11:00 AM on a Sunday ready to get some work done. Evidently, half of the city had the same idea. The place was packed and I had a half-dead laptop in my backpack. The line was 12 deep, but I figured there may be a shift in seating by the time I was ready, and there was.
I sat, laptop on my legs, and watched the ebb and flow of people in and out of the shop. Some had strategy to their placement. They staked their claim to a seat and then upgraded as opportunities presented themselves.
I was happy in the corner, just watching.
The most interesting to me was a woman in a black dress with high heel boots. She was on the phone talking about the church service she had just attended. “It was like a Baptist, or Bible, on non-denominational-Catholic-type service.”
She was a mover. She watched people as they started packing up their backpacks and she would pick up her coat and hover on over. No laptop. No coffee. Just her, a tight dress, and a cell phone conversation loud enough to make the other guests dig for their earbuds.
As she hovered, another gentleman walked up with a laptop. He said, “excuse me, I notice you don’t have a computer, do you mind if I take this place? There is a plug there. You can have my chair over there. I just need a plug.”
“No,” she said, “I’ve been waiting for this spot. It is a more comfortable chair.”
He smiled and said, “here, let me help.”
He then proceeded to move the comfortable chair across the crowded coffee shop and he moved the less comfortable seat next to the plug.
“Does that work?” he asked with a smile.
“There is too much sun over there,” she said. “I really prefer to sit here.”
At this point the shop had a bit of a collective giggle at the audacity of this lady. The man just needed to plug in his laptop…at a coffee shop… that advertises free wifi for its customers. He had bought a drink and food. She had just wandered in to talk on her cell phone away from the wind.
Another couple was sitting at a table enjoying their food. They offered their place to the man who needed a plug. He happily took it, relocated the seats, and gave the lady the chair AND location she insisted on.
Content, she sat and continued on her cell phone about “that man” who had tried to “steal” her seat.
My eyes grew wide with anticipation. I waited. I watched. I wondered if anyone would say anything. No one did.
Eye contact shooting across the room between total strangers told the story. We were all frustrated, but no one would address the issue.
It amazes me how many people like this live among us believing, somehow, that the world owes them the best seat in the house just because they are there. On that day, in that coffee shop, none of us had the relationship or buy-in with this woman that would have allowed us to make a difference in her life, but we all knew the type.
As a person who is trying to take control of my own life, and my own time, and my own family, it is definitely an interesting story for me to reflect on. I want to remain the person willing to help where I can and offer an alternate solution to a problem, but I just need to know where to draw the line, close up my laptop, and head to another coffee shop. Some fights are not worth the effort. I never want to be the demander because I really have no more right to the seat or the plug than anyone else, but I also don’t want to be a pushover. I have to pick my battles, and balance is something I am working on every day.