Some years ago, my mother, grandmother, and I took my two younger brothers to see a movie at a large Omnitheater near my grandmother’s home. It was the film’s opening day, so the theater was not only huge, but packed with people. Now, both my siblings are autistic and one has cerebral palsy as well and wears a heavy leg brace as a result, and my grandmother is in her late seventies and has very painful arthritis. As such, an insane number of stairs is not a sight we greet with much pleasure. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what we got: dozens of stairs extending the whole length of this enormous theater. What fun.
Still, there didn’t seem to be much point in complaining, so we just looked around for what few seats were open. Strangely, in the middle of this crowded theater, there was an entire row (I’m guessing around twenty to thirty seats) towards the top that was almost completely empty, save three ten year old girls and a meticulously dressed middle-aged lady (you know, the kind who’d never admit to being middle-aged). People seemed to be steering clear of this section, which should have been a warning sign, but, silly little naive teenager that I am, I led my family up. As soon as we get there, the lady bolts out her chair, runs over to us, and literally spreads out her arms Gandalf-style to keep us from sitting down. She puts on this simpering “be-nice-to-the-peons” smile and says this:
LADY: I’m sorry, but these seats are reserved.
ME: *checks for “RESERVED” sign like an idiot, finds none* Really? Did you get them reserved?
LADY: No, but we’re saving them.
MOM and GRANDMA: All of them?
MOM: *muttering* Christ, you’ve gotta be kidding me.
BROTHER 1: Mom, let’s sit down.
LADY: You can’t, these are saved.
BROTHER 1: But…*starts first stages of full scale panic attack, which he’s very prone to, and it’s not pretty* But there’s nowhere else to sit…w-we’ll miss the movie…*hyperventilates*
ME: *thinking, “Crap, panic time, DEFCON ONE!”* You can’t seriously need all these chairs.
LADY: Yes, I do. My daughter’s friends are coming, and they’ll need plenty of room.
ME: *thinking, “Who’s she friends with? China?”* Look, it’s just there’s nowhere else to sit, and my brother has a leg problem *cue brother scraping heavy metal brace across floor* and he has trouble with stairs, so I don’t want him to have to-
LADY: Yes, yes, I understand, but these seats are ours. You’re just going to have to live with that.
With that, she goes back to her seat, rolling her eyes. For a minute, I start to sit down anyway, thinking, “up your nose with a rubber hose,” but she spots me and tenses in her chair, her nails literally digging into her armrest. Deciding that this isn’t something I’m willing to die over (and judging from her expression, that’s exactly what would have happened in five seconds), I get up and we manage to find spots in the farthest back row of the theater. Oh, and the girl’s friends? There were ten of them. Maybe. They just used most of the chairs as freaking coat racks. I mean, really, lady? You deny seats to an old lady, a panicked child, and a cripple so your coat won’t get wrinkled? Classy. 0322-11
The lesson I would have walked away with was that I need to get to the theater much earlier than any seat hogs and stake out my seat claim first. Seat Hogs will always exist but I’d rather they be someone else’s problem to deal with. Shoot, if you time it right, you could sit watching the Seat Hog drama while munching on some buttery popcorn.