Bench Squatters And Their Precious Bags

by admin on October 23, 2017

I’m submitting the following to see if anyone at E-hell can help me find a polite spine and help me to resolve a problem that myself and a number of others seem to run into. Each summer my husband and I attend a gaming convention (think Dungeons and Dragons, etc). This convention is held in a great city that has a large convention space capable of fitting every possible aspect of this convention. Parts of it even spread into neighboring hotels and even the restaurants get into it. It’s truly a great event. The one issue I have run into in the convention center itself is that there’s rarely anywhere to sit. Why? Because every bench is ALWAYS taken up by one person who seems to think that their bags are more important than another human being.

It’s estimated that a person who attends this convention will walk an average of 8 miles a day, whether it’s hoofing it around the hall, or to and from your hotel to the hall to restaurants etc, so proper sit breaks are a MUST now and then. What are we supposed to do or say when we encounter someone who has taken up a whole bench between themselves and the bags of things that they have purchased? I’ve tried a polite “Hi there, I was just wondering, is anyone sitting on that half of the bench?” and the most frequent response I get is someone barely glancing up at me, snorting as if to say “Are you serious?” then sticking their nose back in whatever they were looking at. It got so bad the most recent time I attended that I started seeking out the bathrooms that had chairs for nursing mothers and sitting on those (And before anyone even asks, if anyone came in obviously in need of that chair, I gave it up).

It should also be noted that there is NO reasonable excuse for these people to be putting their bags on these benches. There is space on either side of the benches for people to put their things so that they are out of the way of any possible foot traffic. So what do we do to actually reclaim some of this seat space from people who think their bags are more important? 1114-13

The question to be asked of bench squatters is not, “Is anyone sitting there?”, but rather, “Excuse me, could you please move your bags to the floor? I need to sit on the bench.”   And then stand there looking at the person expectantly and don’t stop staring until you get a civil response of some kind.

{ 70 comments… read them below or add one }

caverat October 23, 2017 at 4:25 am

While it would be nice for these people to shift over, it sounds like you’ve tried and most can’t be bothered (what a fun group of people!). Honestly I’d probably just bring along a lightweight folding chair of my own and be done with it.

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Marozia October 23, 2017 at 4:57 am

That’s a good idea.
Make sure no one pinches it

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NoviceGardener October 23, 2017 at 9:11 pm

@Marozia Haha, the whiny war cry of any convention boor! “Can I borrow that? I didn’t plan ahead and I’m really selfish! You should let me use your (insert item here), because…because…I want it!”

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athersgeo October 23, 2017 at 6:21 am

The problem with bringing your own chair is that you have to carry it when you’re not using it which is not terribly practical in a crowded convention and, depending on how strict the con authorities are, you may not even be allowed to take it onto the convention floor anyway.

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Lady Phoenix October 23, 2017 at 10:06 am

The problem with that is that this anconvention. If you are cosplay, you might be carrying around heavy props. If you are not, you might just be barrying a heavy shopping bag full of con swag. there is also having to pack the thing in a suitcase or in the car.

I honeatly would just ask them to move their stuff already and move it for them if they don’t comply. If this is a panel, you can ask a staffer to intervene, since they are trying to fill the room with people.

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Aleko October 23, 2017 at 11:41 am

I disagree: I think OP’s approach is misjudged, in that “Is anyone sitting on that half of the bench?” is the wrong question to ask. Literally speaking, of course obviously nobody is; so the question comes across to selfish or self-absorbed people as silly or even passive-aggressive, and they feel free to ignore it. I think she would do better to ask “Are those bags on the bench yours?”, which plainly does demand an answer. If they have really only put their bags there to save the bench for a friend they will certainly say so at that point. But if they only say “Yes “, she can follow this up with “Please can you take some of them off so I can sit down?”. In my experience, while selfish people who are hogging seats are often very good at ignoring others who might need to sit down, very few are brazen enough to refuse outright when specifically asked.

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Marketeer October 24, 2017 at 12:34 pm

I take “Is anyone sitting here?” as “Are you saving this seat for anyone?” I’ll put my bag on the seat to hold it for my husband while he goes to the restroom, for example.

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Marozia October 23, 2017 at 4:57 am

I must admit, I am guilty of that too, but I’ve always apologised profusely and moved the bags.. If someone says “Are you serious?”, just say “Yes, I am, I would appreciate it if you could move them so I can sit”.

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Mustard October 23, 2017 at 6:35 am

I think you have to be more positive in your request; please move your bags so I can sit down is to the point and not rude.

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Lerah99 October 23, 2017 at 6:39 am

Limited convention center seating is always an issue.
I attend a couple different comic con style events every year.
And the hallways are often lined with people sitting against the walls because there are no seats available.

There are a few areas with food vendors and tables for people with food.
Security has to sweep through multiple times an hour asking people who are done eating to move along so people with food can sit down. And even then you’ll hear people yell and argue about why they should be allowed to camp at a table even though everyone at the table has finished eating.

Panels will be at capacity with a bunch of people standing against the wall in the back, and people gathered around the door to hear a popular panelist speak. The panelist themselves may even make an announcement like “Hey guys! Thank you all for coming. If everyone could move together, please. There are lots of other people who want to get it.” And STILL you will have those people taking up 2 seats, one for themselves and one for their bag. These people aren’t saving that seat for a child or significant other, because no one ever appears to fill that seat.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a really fat woman who also has anxiety about social situations.
I know how uncomfortable it can feel to sit between two strangers. Having a buffer chair between me and them would be awesome! But at crowded events where there are more people than chairs, the right thing to do is suck it up and make the space available for someone else to use it.

You don’t get to just camp at a table or on a bench all day by your lonesome because you find it awkward to have a stranger sitting next to you. And, yes, your bag may have a precious item of preciousness that you don’t want accidentally tripped over or squashed. But people come before stuff. If you have an item in your bag that is expensive and fragile, it’s time to make a trip to your hotel room to store it away safely.

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Cleosia October 23, 2017 at 7:22 am

If that is the response you get, your next response should be, “I tried to be nice but either you remove those bags from the bench or I will. Either way, I’m sitting down.”

Or is that too nasty?

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GeeDubs October 25, 2017 at 2:37 pm

That makes me think of one day on the bus. A man was taking up two seats: one for him, one for his laptop bag. I asked, “Could you please move your bag so I can sit?” He gave me a nasty look & said “What are ya gonna do, sit on it if I don’t?” Cheerfully I said, “Yep!” and started to do just that. He moved his bag quickly.
Most people will move their stuff without complaint. That guy (and the woman who called me a “white trash b*tch who has a fat *ss from sitting all day”) was an exception.

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NostalgicGal October 23, 2017 at 7:38 am

I have had to go to a wheeled walker with basket cart, because even “Excuse me, but I really need to sit down, would you move your bags please?’ has gotten the similar response of ignore. I’m not cosplaying, my hair really does look like this (I have an unusual greying pattern) and I’ve been playing for almost forty years. I have also put into the management/admin that runs this event about adding it to the rules list; on relinquishing the bench space, it’s that bad. Contact the admin on BUSINESS LETTERHEAD if you’re a professional and politely state the case and ask to have it added to the policy rules. I’m pretty sure I know which one you’re talking about and the issue is BAD. I’ve also helped organize and run some of these events, done dealer table, etc. That is the best advice I can give. If you know anyone else that goes, get them to do the same. Write that letter.

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Just4Kicks October 23, 2017 at 8:37 am

One of my sons and I are huge Walking Dead fans, I’ve looked into Comic-Con for a fun b-day/Christmas gift, but they are SO expensive.

Anyway…I would politely ask to sit, and if met with a grunt or no reply at all, I would push the bags over with my ample backside.
I’m sure you’ll get a dirty look or comment, but they will move.
Not an Ehell approved move, but you paid to go there like everyone else.

Sort of off topic, but when I was a little girl my family only had one car.
We lived about six blocks away from a city bus stop so if we had doctor/dentist appointments my mom would pack my sister and I up and take the bus.
One day on the way to the dentist, we trudge up to the bus stop in absolute POURING down rain and sleet.
As we near the stop we see the bus is there…..Hallelujah!!!!
We are soaked and half frozen and my mom knocks on the bus door because its closed.
The driver, who was eating his lunch, told my mom “Tough darts, Lady….I can’t let you on until I’m done eating!!!” and closed the door again.
We sat on the bench (no enclosure, just a bench) for 20 minutes until the driver opened the door with a heavy sigh and a smirk.
My sister and I as well as my mom were all crying at this point, and a week later we were all sick as dogs.

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jokergirl129 October 23, 2017 at 8:04 pm

I know this was years ago and nothing can be done about it now but honestly that bus driver should have been reported. He was a huge jerk to force your mom, sister and you to sit outside in freezing weather while it was pouring rain. I mean yeah maybe it was a rule that the bus driver wasn’t allowed to let anyone else on while he was eating and if the weather was normal/nice then I could probably understand that (I honestly have no idea what the rules are for bus drivers and when they can eat. I don’t even know if they’re allowed to leave the bus at all or not to eat.) But considering the circumstances he should have made the exception. The whole heavy sigh and smirk at the end was really unneeded.

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Just4Kicks October 24, 2017 at 12:16 pm

I spoke to my mom this morning and asked her if she remembered that day at the bus stop.
She said she sure does remember, and what an ass that driver was!!!
She said (if memory serves), the person she reported the driver to said “technically” drivers are not allowed to have passengers on the bus during breaks, but in bad weather, where the stop isn’t sheltered its left up to the driver.
In other words, he could have let a mom with two little ones on….he just didn’t want to.
The lady was horrified that the driver let us sit for 20 minutes in rain and sleet.

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jokergirl129 October 25, 2017 at 5:56 pm

I’m glad your mom reported the driver and hopefully he got in trouble for not giving shelter to you guys. Because base on what your mom was told the bus driver could have let you guys on. So yeah he was definitely a jerk because he didn’t want to do so.

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NostalgicGal October 23, 2017 at 8:39 pm

I would have gotten the bus number, and noted the route and time and reported the driver.

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staceyizme October 23, 2017 at 9:12 pm

The bus driver was rude. BUT- your mom should have had gear appropriate to the weather. There’s no excuse for lacking an umbrella and rain gear if you live in a climate and are in a season where you are likely to suffer both rain and chilling wind. I’m so sorry that you were ill as a result. However, some situations require advance preparation.

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Just4Kicks October 24, 2017 at 5:04 am

Thanks to all!

My mom is no shrinking violet and she did report him.
The bus driver refused to give my mom his name, so on the way off at our stop (I vividly remember our dentist’s receptionist asking just what in the hell happened to us) my mom leaned in at looked at his ID on the dashboard, and said she would be reporting him as soon as we got home.

@Stacyizme: have you ever been caught in such a bad rainstorm that your umbrella kept flipping inside out, rendering it useless?!? THAT was the case that day.
We all had raincoats and rubber boots on, and each of us had our own umbrella.
My mom WAS prepared, but the storm that day was just ferocious.

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EchoGirl October 24, 2017 at 4:04 pm

What makes you think they didn’t have gear? I’ve been in these kinds of situations (most recently while staffing a 5K that got rained on — apparently those organizers don’t believe in “rained out”). Unless you buy heavy-duty sporting-level gear, it’s not designed as indefinite protection.

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o_gal October 24, 2017 at 6:06 am

He was a jerk, but he may have been hampered by regulations. If he must take a lunch break of X number of minutes (usually negotiated into contracts), he probably has to put the bus “out of service” during that time. No one allowed on, for any reason. But he was a jerk about it.

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chigrrl October 24, 2017 at 12:34 pm

The bus driver could have had a legitimate reason to not allow you on the bus. This could be a company rule or considered an insurance liability. Workers are entitled to breaks by the law. Drivers especially may be under scrutiny due to the nature of their work and letting passengers on the vehicle might compromise the terms of what is considered an actual break from work. I guess he could have been nicer, but dwelling on ages old perceived slights seems rather unhealthy. Also, being out in the cold/sleet is not how viruses or infections are contracted, I’m unsure how this relates at all to the topic at hand.

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Just4Kicks October 25, 2017 at 3:18 am

I did say sort of off topic at the beginning of my comment, didn’t mean to start a debate.
I don’t know what reminded me of my story and yes, it was a long time ago.
I thought it would be a “people who are rude and don’t let you sit down” commiseration tale.
All told, the three of us sat in soaked clothes for the better part of three hours until we got back home to change after our appointment, while that in itself may not have made us sick, it certainly didn’t help matters.
I’m really not sure why this little anecdote of mine has caused such a problem and pushed more than one button among the commenters, but my apologies for offending anyone.

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jokergirl129 October 25, 2017 at 6:02 pm

I don’t think anyone is really offended. Like me they probably don’t know what the rules are concerning bus drivers and their breaks and thinking that maybe he wasn’t allowed (even though I think even if that was true he should have made the exception concerning the weather). But base on your reply to me it sounded like in cases where the bus stop isn’t sheltered and the weather is really bad the bus driver can allow people on the bus if they wish. So in your case he could have let you guys on without getting into trouble but chose not to which is even worse.

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Ripple October 23, 2017 at 9:41 am

I’d make it a bit stronger than Jeanne suggests. “Excuse me, I really need to sit down for a few minutes. Could you please move some of your bags?” That makes it seem a little more urgent but not rude.

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Tanya October 31, 2017 at 10:41 pm

I regularly sing out a cheerful “Excuse me!” on the bus while moving toward the bag-occupied seat, and no one has failed to move it out of my way. They certainly COULD move their bags but are depending on peoples’ reticence to claim extra space, so I tend not to want to give them extra courteous wordings or an opportunity to refuse.

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LadyV October 23, 2017 at 9:49 am

I’ve run into a similar problem on the light rail I use to commute to work. Invariably there’s at least one person that has a backpack, purse, etc. on the seat next to them – apparently oblivious to all the people standing. I don’t mind standing if the train is busy and every seat is taken – but I’m damned if I’ll stand because someone is inconsiderate enough to take up two seats. (Side note – WHY do some women have so much to bring into the office that they need a huge purse, a daypack, AND an oversized tote?)

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NostalgicGal October 23, 2017 at 8:45 pm

I used to live on a major bus route and about a mile down was a veterinarian… I had two cats and my neighbor and friend had two. On a Saturday morning I’d do a ‘time block’ appointment and take all four in to the vet in two carriers. I also would pay three fares, one for me and one for each carrier, and ask for a transfer slip. They had to issue one if asked and a fare was paid. This also proved a fare was paid. I would put a slip on each carrier under the handle. Then put the three of us on seats. The carriers had paid fares, they were paying passengers. Only once did I have someone ask me to move a carrier, but they were a hale and healthy person and there were seats farther back… I pointed out the transfer slip and explained the carrier had paid a fare (so it was entitled to use a seat). He moved farther down. This also wasn’t during the height of commuter rush either.

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Wanda888 October 24, 2017 at 2:45 pm

When I was still breastfeeding, everyday I had to bring to the office my backpack, my lunch bag, and my breastpump bag, which had to store my bottles and pumping supplies as well (the pump motor and controls were in the bottom of the bag, with space above that to store stuff). Yes, it was annoying, but I didn’t really have a choice. Even if I could have left the pump itself at work, I needed to bring the bottles and supplies to work everyday, and they were bulky.

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Lisa Juley October 23, 2017 at 10:25 am

I encounter this at the gym as well and it drives me nuts. One person with absolutely all of their items spread out over the entire surface of a bench, leaving no one else with a spot to rest their things or sit down to tie their sneakers.

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Jared Bascomb October 23, 2017 at 6:56 pm

I assume you’re talking about the locker room and not the workout floor.
I sometimes see the same thing in the locker room. I know people there are people who work out before going to work, but it’s like they packed for a three-week vacation: full change of clothes, their entire toiletry cabinet of special soap, shampoo, body lotion(s)/spray(s), dental care, shaving gear, hair product, cologne . . .
And this is in the *men’s* locker room!

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lakey October 23, 2017 at 11:46 am

“Honestly I’d probably just bring along a lightweight folding chair of my own and be done with it.”
Given the amount of walking you do at some events, carrying around, even a lightweight, foldable chair would be a problem. I suppose it would be passive aggressive to sit close to her on the floor, cement, or ground and stare up at her?

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Vandalia October 24, 2017 at 11:25 am

Haha – I pictured doing this with the plaintive “Puss in Boots eyes” from Shrek!

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Kirsten October 23, 2017 at 12:02 pm

Admin is right. It’s time to stop hinting and be direct. “I need to sit down. Could you move your bags please?”

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jessiebird October 23, 2017 at 12:12 pm

Reminds me of when I was on a layover in Thailand and had some kind of food poisoning from the airplane. I felt awful and was lying on a bench in the airport with my bag. A friend was sitting next to me. A man, who seemed to be a Westerner married to a Thai woman, came up and yanked my bag to the floor without a word. He was clearly angry at me for lying on the bench, though I would have quickly gotten up at the first hint he needed it. I always surmised that he thought I was a stupid backpacker or something who was just being a selfish hog. I wasn’t but he didn’t even bother to say a word. He never knew that I was actually a person who was feeling quite ill. I don’t remember why my bag was on the bench, but anyway, I would have moved it. 15 years and still stings….

And then the time when I was living in Japan. I had a two year old son and my in-laws were visiting. We got on a majorly urban train, where there were no seats, even in the spaces reserved for elderly/pregnant/small child/disabled. No, those four seats were occupied by men aged about 18-55. My husband and I speak Japanese and my husband has a spine of titanium, so he went right up to them, who were all pretending to sleep. (This is the custom in Japan, to sleep or “sleep” on trains. Trains of pleasantly quiet, but there are also many elderly people wobbling about while young adults sit in the seats….) He insisted they all get up and give me, our son, and his elderly parents the seats. They acquiesced but were startled to be called out on it, especially by a fluent foreigner.

After I had a c-section in Japan, I had to take a train every day to see my preemie daughter and bring her breastmilk. It was a vertical incision, and only a week after surgery I was still healing. And anemic. And couldn’t drive for many weeks. I sat in those special needs seats on the train and felt that I was being judged for being a youngish woman in seeming perfect health. But I needed those seats; my stomach muscles couldn’t maintain my balance with the trains movements and the anemia was exhausting. I try to remember people have hidden handicaps that might require them to need the seats, so it really is a matter of just asking. If someone had asked me, I’d have pulled up my shirt and shown then the bandages.

But at a convention, OP, I agree, I’d stand and stare at them until they moved their bags. Actually, I’d ask and if I got the response you did, I’d say, so nicely,”excuse me, I’m just going to push your bags a little closer to you so I can sit down….sorry, so sorry! Thanks!” What can they say? Or perch on the edge of the bench–they won’t like your butt so close to their stuff….

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Stephanie October 23, 2017 at 12:33 pm

FYI any seat in a bathroom, even if it ended to be “for nursing mothers” is not really for nursing mothers. No one wants to eat or feed a baby where other people are toileting.

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iwadasn October 25, 2017 at 9:38 pm

Many public restrooms with spots for nursing mothers have them in a room or nook branched away from the actual restroom itself. It’s not like they’re sitting right next to a toilet. It’s no worse than washing your hands at the sink that is technically “where other people are toileting.”

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sandisadie October 23, 2017 at 12:47 pm

Could you contact the people in charge of this venue, explain the problem and ask them to post signs at each bench to the effect that bags, etc are not to be placed on benches, only people.

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Isabelle October 23, 2017 at 5:27 pm

If it’s Gen Con, there are WAY too many benches for them to do that.

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Lerah99 October 24, 2017 at 8:03 am

I second what Isabelle is saying.
There are WAY too many benches at GenCon for that to be feasible.
You really just have to have the polite spine to say “Please move your bags, I need to sit down.”

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JD October 23, 2017 at 12:50 pm

I believe that once I’d asked politely and got no response, I’d shift his/her bags and set myself down. I don’t know how these conventions work, but could the hosts or site managers be made aware of the lack of seating?

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Dee October 23, 2017 at 12:52 pm

What does the host (convention venue) say about it? Sounds like a job for security, or whoever it is that patrols the convention. And a mention in the ads leading up to the convention would be good to suggest to the organizers, too. But, other than that, I don’t know why you can’t say “excuse me, I’ll just move your bags over so that I can sit here, too” and then do just that. You don’t need their approval to sit there and you don’t need them to be happy with you. You just need to sit down. So do it.

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Devin October 23, 2017 at 2:54 pm

These people are rude, and I think repeating your request as the admin suggested is your best recourse, but they still might be obliviously rude. Many of these ticketed conventions ask for feedback after the event. Make sure to take a few minutes to let them know more seating is needed at all of their venues. Also, plan your day to have a seated lunch somewhere nearby. That way you have about an hour break off your feet while you eat. You may need more than one break through your the day, but a restaurant ensures one set rest time.

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Kat October 23, 2017 at 4:44 pm

And if they’re still determined to pretend not to hear you after 20 seconds of waiting, I would go ahead and say “Would you like me to move your bags then?” and start moving towards the bags. Very likely that will cause them to leap into action and move them, or if not you can move them and sit.

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Isabelle October 23, 2017 at 5:25 pm

I’m guessing we’re talking about Gen Con (which I’ve attended) or some such event here and, while it’s no excuse, the attendees tend to have poor social skills and, yeah, will tend to put their bags on the bench b/c they’d rather not have any human being sitting next to them. As Admin suggested, though, the better approach would be “Excuse me, could you please move your bags to the floor? I need to sit on the bench.” While they’ll likely snort, scowl, or have some sort of reaction, they’ll likely do it. Then you just have to pretend not to notice the reaction and enjoy the bench.

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WillyNilly October 23, 2017 at 5:40 pm

I live in NYC and used to commute via subway. I remember once being on a train that was standing room only, but not otherwise crowded.
A man approached a seated woman with bag on the seat next to her.
“Is that your bag?” The woman looked up, the man was pointing at the bag. She just looked away, ignoring him. He asked once more, she continued to ignore.
So he picked up the bag and tossed it down the length of the train car.
Suddenly she yelped, jumped up and chased the bag. The man sat down, as did another person as there were now two empty seats.

Definitely not polite, but an amusing lesson to witness.

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Dyan October 24, 2017 at 10:35 am

well really when she didn’t answer that would have done it for me hahaha I guess it is not your bag you wont care…I love that !!

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Anna October 23, 2017 at 5:44 pm

As a frequent user of public transportation, I see this a lot. Also, similarly, people who sit on the bus on the aisle seat of a two-person seat, so that no one can sit next to them without having to ask them to move.

I just flat out ask people to move their things or themselves. For example, “Hi, could you please move your bags so I can sit?”

People who do this (especially the sitting in the aisle seat!) do this BECAUSE they want all the space, and they are not interested in taking hints that would cause them to lose their space. They bank on the fact that a lot of people don’t have polite spines and won’t step up and ask for the seat if it looks unavailable.

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o_gal October 24, 2017 at 6:13 am

Not everyone sits on the aisle seat because they are trying to get the window seat too. Many people have long legs and don’t fit well into the space between the seats, so they sit on an aisle so they can swing their legs out. And then they politely move them when people need to get by. And they also will politely stand up so you can have the window seat. They’re just trying to avoid pain for the time they are riding that mode of transportation.

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bap October 26, 2017 at 8:33 am

^^THIS^^! I am a 6′ tall woman middle-aged woman who is now many pounds heavier than as a teenager. I have never ridden any mass transit where I could sit straight in the seat without my knees hitting the seat in front of me. I have to turn to the side which then, obviously, gets in the way for the other passenger (if I am sitting next to the window) or the aisle. I’m not being rude or obnoxious, I just literally have nowhere to put my legs. I understand others frustration (because I’m frustrated also) and will do what I can to be accommodating.

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LovleAnjel October 26, 2017 at 10:24 am

I prefer aisle seats because I have irritable bowel syndrome and might have to make a speedy exit.

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WillyNilly October 26, 2017 at 10:44 pm

Not everyone who sits in aisle seat is doing it to subtly claim both but some are. These folks are easily outted by their loud sigh and huff as they pick up their bag off the window seat and slide over into it; If they had wanted the aisle seat, they would have remained in it.

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Outdoor Girl October 24, 2017 at 8:11 am

Not necessarily. I sit in the aisle seat because I’m mildly claustrophobic and sitting in the window seat makes me anxious. I have no problem swinging my legs out to let you sit down.

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Pat October 24, 2017 at 7:10 pm

Or they sit in the aisle seat because they are getting off a few stops later and would rather not be blocked into the window seat. I don’t like to shuffle around while the bus is moving, so I get up and off when it is already standing. If someone wants the window seat at an earlier stop, I’ll gladly stand up and let them in, but I want to be able to get off quickly at my stop.

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Lou October 25, 2017 at 3:07 am

I sit in the aisle seat because I don’t like having to step over people or inconvenience someone when I want to move. I never even considering doing it because I want all the space.

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Patricia October 23, 2017 at 7:48 pm

Pretty sure I attend the same convention and last year every single day sold out, so I don’t know how feasible it is for convention staff or security to try to police this matter. Most of the people I see are thoughtful enough to pile their stuff against the wall, on the floor, but I don’t doubt there are some jerks out there. I have seen people sprawled out over benches and just plopped myself down next to them on the edge; I usually get a weird look but they scoot over.

I do see this issue ALL THE TIME at public pools though; the family whose kids each need a beach chair to themselves to drape their towels on while they swim, and their towels can’t possibly share a chair, so they’re taking up all the chairs with no one even sitting in them. In this case, if there is some sort of adult or someone around, I’ll say, “Hey, all the chair are taken so is it OK if I move your kids’ towels onto the same one?” They always say yes. Maybe the con trolls would respond to something similar. “Hey, there’s no benches available and I really need to sit down right now, so I’m going to put your bag on the floor for a minute. I’ll keep an eye on it for you.”

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Rebecca October 23, 2017 at 9:04 pm

I agree with admin, just ask them to please move their bags so you can sit down. AND ask management or whoever runs the place, to please make some kind of announcement requesting that people not use seats for bags when the place is busy. We have such announcements on ferries where I live.

That being said, please bear in mind that the place might not have been so busy when they first sat down, and the person has failed to notice more people looking for seats. I still remember one time I went into a Starbucks with my friend. I wasn’t getting anything but my friend wanted a drink to go, and then we were leaving. The place was empty and I took that moment to read an article in the paper that was sitting there on a long window table. I did kind of sprawl out because nobody else was there, and in the time my friend was getting her drink, I failed to notice more people coming in, till I heard this guy say in a really obnoxious tone, “Do you HAVE to take up the WHOLE TABLE??”

I apologized and said no, I was leaving anyway, but what I wish I’d said was, “No, but do you HAVE to ask me so rudely instead of just saying, “hey, can you please move over a bit to let us sit down?”

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Kelly Taylor October 26, 2017 at 4:11 pm

This. The assumption that anyone with a bag on a bench or chair is deliberately being a horrible, selfish, antagonistic jerk who must be confronted with great force is ridiculous. People are more likely busy or distracted, not out to ruin your day or hurt you.

It’s not difficult to start with “Hey, can I sit here?” or “Sorry to trouble you, but can I sit?” If they refuse to move their bag or are rude, THEN you can assume they’re a jerk.

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SS October 24, 2017 at 7:57 am

I get angry when I go into a crowded bar and when I look for a seat at the bar half of the seats are filled with women’s purses or people’s backpacks and heaven-help-you if you dare ask someone to move their precious cargo. Unless your bag is paying for a drink, move it out of the chair! Yes, I’m also a woman and I find it absolutely rude.

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Devin October 25, 2017 at 9:48 am

I love that many bars now put in hooks under the bar to hang purses and bags. I often meet friends directly after work at the local bar and have my large work bag with me. It stinks that many places don’t have a good option of where to put your bag. Back of the chair is easy grabbing for thief’s, pubs floors can be very grimey, and in your lap makes eating very tricky (don’t want to spill pub nachos on my work laptop). My group usually loads up one chair with 4-5 bags if there isn’t another good option, but also remove them if requested. When it’s one bag, one chair, at every other chair it’s obnoxious and usually just to keep someone from sitting their (the express purpose of a chair!!).

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Rattus October 24, 2017 at 10:02 am

For all those recommending carrying one’s own seat, I recommend the Walkstool. I am a big, big gal, and I have arthritis, so I carry one of these when I’m going for a lengthy walk. They fold down to a tubular shape and can be stuffed in a backpack, and they have given me breaks in New Orleans, Savannah, Montreal, Ottawa…

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Miss B October 24, 2017 at 7:40 pm

there are also folding seats that double as canes.

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Lerah99 October 26, 2017 at 8:32 am

One of my friends takes a big international vacation every year. She swears by walkstool.
She has taken it to Peru, Portugal, Ireland, Scotland, etc…
She especially loves it for museums.

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GeenaG October 25, 2017 at 12:20 pm

“Excuse me, I would like to sit down, please”. Make it a statement, not a question and then just stand there and look at them expectantly.

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staceyizme October 25, 2017 at 1:03 pm

Our culture isn’t very good at sharing space. Sometimes that’s a good thing (safety and privacy) and sometimes it’s not (when you want to sit down and space isn’t available or offered to share). If you are in need of a break and no seating is available in your desired area, it makes far more sense (in my view) to choose another spot in which to rest, dine or have that coffee. Trying to engage with perfect strangers in order to convince them to move their belongings or to yield seats to your use isn’t a good practice because they are unlikely to feel that they need to explain themselves to another stranger. Restaurant managers, venue staff, ushers, park patrol or event planners make good intermediaries and prevent needless escalations between patrons. The comments remarking on belongings being moved by force (scooted, thrown, nudged or otherwise handled) sounds like an invitation to trouble. (Excepting, in my view, theater patrons “saving” large banks of unassigned seats before a performance by nefarious means. Even there, appealing to management is a better way to resolve such issues.)

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iwadasn October 25, 2017 at 9:45 pm

The reason “Is there anyone sitting on this half of the bench?” is receiving snorts of derision is that it’s a stupid question to which the answer is obviously “no.” Don’t passive-aggressively hint that they shouldn’t have their bags there in the first place; like the admin says, ask a question that’s both polite AND straightforward.

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Kayesse October 26, 2017 at 9:51 pm

A teacher trick given to me was use the word ‘thanks’ instead of ‘please’ as it assumes compliance with the request rather than give the choice whether to comply. ‘Can you move those bags thanks’ is a lot different to ‘ Please can you move those bags’ but is still polite

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Yentush October 27, 2017 at 7:50 am

My mother in law told me this story. She was on a bus and a pregnant woman got on, The bus was filled and no one got up. The bus driver stopped the bus at the side of the road, stood up and offered her HIS seat. Someone gt up pretty fast after that.

On the other side of the coin, and elderly man once offered me his seat on the bus when I was visibly pregnant. I politely decline two or three times (I did not want to displace him), until he yelled at me, “Ma’am, SIT DOWN!”. I sat.

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Cicero October 28, 2017 at 3:45 am

This is what I go through on most days when I commute to NYC for work, and/or at certain coffee shops in the city. I just politely ask them to please move the bags so I can sit thank you.

To be honest, On my commute I do get mildly annoyed because the train is always full during rush hour and there are never enough seats so why should you get two seats while I have to stand. I get annoyed that I even have to àsk. But 8 digress.

As I said to a woman in a coffee shop who didn’t want to give up her extra chai rs: seats are for people, not your bags.

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