As in, What Would Jesus Do?
It was just weird, and the people I am about to talk about, two complete strangers to me, have just left the premises, minutes ago.
So I'm sitting here at Starbucks in the Chapters store downtown. It's just packed with people. To put it mildly, it's a proverbial barrel of fish. I had to wait quite a while for a table to open up so I could read my book and get my caffeine fix.
But sure enough [patience is rewarded] two people got up to leave and I hustled in there and nabbed the table.
So far so so good, right? Everything's been done fair and square? Survival of the fittest, and all that jazz? No dolphins were harmed, yadda yadda?
OK, I was happily re-acquainting myself with the latter stages of this excellent book called The Keep when, in my over-anxiety I dribbled some Pumpkin-Spice Latte ['tis the season] on the table and got up to fetch a napkin from yonder dispenser. These are over at the condiment center, a few yards away.
When I turned around to go back to my table there was a mother and daughter team already sitting at my table, pushing all my stuff to the side.... my book, my laptop, my John Irving action figure... all the stuff I travel with, it's all just pushed over and these two have basically MOVED IN.... and I'm left standing there, milling about.
I at least want my damn book back?
The truth is, I wasn't even angry or anything. Spending 90% of my life in coffee places has conditioned me for this sort of scenario. I quickly adapt to such horrific encounters with..... random human beings.
I asked some people at a neighboring table if I could borrow their one unused chair and then I dragged this chair close to "my" table, reached over for my book and said to these two Usurpers, these two Table Hounds, "I'll just sit over here."
I even smiled.
But from the look on the daughter's face I might as well have said, "I will shoot you both in four seconds."
She looked at me like I needed an exorcism. And said, "What?"
So, I repeated exactly what I had said before, but way slower, "It's OK. I -- will -- sit -- over -- here."
But this only horrified her further.
As though I was slapping them both in the face a second time.
In other words friends, I quickly realized that there was absolutely no sentence, put however nicely, that would not sound offensive, when all the while I was not angry or offended. I truthfully could not have cared less -- I mean sure, it was not comfortable to now sit in a chair and have to hold my coffee in one hand and the book in the other, but the point of what I am saying is that there was no good way for me to relate to these women that I was not scandalized by their intrusion into "my" table.
The younger woman continued to just GLARE at me. My God, it was unnerving.
Then the elderly woman turned completely around and said to me, "We will not be long, there was nowhere else to sit."
I just acknowledged with my eyes that I heard her, there was nothing to say.... all would have been lost in translation.
And the young one, the daughter, wow... the couple times I glanced up while I sipped from that cup that was burning the hell out of my left hand, her eyes cut me to shreds!
They just left, leaving muffin crumbs and plates all over "my" table, and as I moved back here the girl threw me a parting "look" as they both went out the front doors of Chapters.
That "look" was NOT lost in translation.
It said, "You've got some serious issues, buddy! Get some help."