Over the weekend, I attended a play at our local high school. It was a fundraiser for a theater in a neighboring city. It’s a very nice event, but in order to maximize seating, they hold it in an auditorium, rather than the normal theater. This was the first time it was held it my town. I have season tickets to the theater and was very excited that they were doing something in our town.
Having been to the fundraisers before I knew to line up early as all seating is general admission. We had five people in our party, and there were about 20 -30 people in front of us. As the doors open, all of the people went down the more visible, but longer, hallway to the right. Knowing there was a second door on the left, I went that direction, thus starting the split flow of people into the auditorium. This is important because it meant that my party was one of the first into the auditorium.
The auditorium is arranged with five rows in front, a large aisle way, with the majority portion of the seating behind that. Knowing the auditorium, I went to the first row of that second section, as it’s just about eye level with actors on the stage. Perfect viewing in my opinion. There was no one in this row yet, but someone had saved the first four seats (by placing jackets on them) so I moved past those to the center. (Saving seats this way is common at the high school, as the performers often save them for teachers, parents, and crew of the play)
Suddenly, this woman comes barreling in from the other stairway- literally running in the row. She throws up her hands and says ” these are ours”. She quickly turns to her party and asks if they have enough seat then turns back to me and announces that they don’t have enough. I checked with the last person in our party, and there were a couple seats between her and the saved seat, so we moved back. Freeing up two seats for the woman’s group. We sat down and she says ” We still don’t have enough. There are nine of us, you’ll need to move”. My only reply is ” I’m sorry. There is still plenty of seating in the other rows.” After grumbling, she sends her two teenagers in her group to sit somewhere else.
Now, being this is a family friendly play, I expect a certain amount of whining, crying, and other issues that comes with having small children in a three hour play. But I was not prepared for what happened next. The woman placed her 6 year old next to me. The child could not sit still. Up, down, up , down, up, down. It was really wearing on my nerves. Worse was the fact that she would turn in her seat and put her feet on me, getting my pants dirty. The mother did nothing. When they returned from the lobby at intermission and the process started to repeat, I asked the child if she could please try not to put her feet on me. The mother freaked and demanded to know why I was speaking to her child. I repeated my request. “She’s doing nothing wrong!”. I disagreed and told her that I understood that it was a long performance and some fidgeting was expected, I would appreciate it if my pants weren’t subject to her childs shoes. “Well, I never…!” she started to reply. In for a penny, in for a pound- I interrupted and told her that I though the woman behind her daughter would probably appreciate her remaining in her seat, rather than standing and obstructing her view. Much to my surprise a voice said ” I really would, it’s quite distracting”. I hadn’t realized she had been watching the exchange.
To her credit, the woman did try and keep the child somewhat settled for the second half. But midway through, the child needed to use the restroom, and they couldn’t get out of the row. So she started screaming. ” I need to go!”
After the play, the woman behind us thanked me for speaking up.
All in all, it was a wonderful play, but definitely tested my patience and my etiquette skills. 0112-14
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