Saturday, September 29, 2007

Politeness Predicaments

I had a dilemma last night, and when it was all said and done, I wondered what you would have done in the same situation.

Last night Mimi had the lead role in a community theater performance. The Brain is very particular about where he likes to video tape from, so I went over to the theater when the doors opened at 5pm and reserved some seats on the back row. It’s a tiny theater, and the back 2 rows are elevated, making this the ideal place from which to record. The back row on one side of the aisle only has 5 seats, so I went ahead and put notes on them, as there were 5 in my group, and set up my tripod right in the middle.

There were several other parents there doing the same thing as I was. In fact, even the theater owner had guests coming and was placing reserved signs on some front row seats.

There was a woman who was choosing seats in the row in front of me, and she laid some sweaters across about half of the twelve seats in that row.

Everything was fine until I returned at 6:30 (curtain was 7pm) to find that my tripod had been moved, and 2 of my seats had been "re-reserved" by someone else. They had also left a tripod and camera case. I looked around for my little signs, and found them on the row in front of me… all the way down on the end.

I was a little miffed, but I tried to remember that I had taken the best place for filming, and even though this meant that my group wouldn’t all be able to sit together I would be willing to share.

About 15 minutes later, as the theater started filling up, a man came in and dropped a coat on the chair next to mine. I looked over and waited for him to say something. And here’s where I just began to wonder what is going on in the world! If it had been me, I would had STARTED by saying something along the lines of

“I hope you don’t mind- I’d really like to be able to tape my daughter’s performance. I tried to replace the seats I took with some pretty good seats over here. DO you mind terribly?”

Or SOMETHING, right?

But that’s not what happened.

Here’s the conversation.

Me: (Looking at him waiting for him to say something)

Him: How ya doin’?

Me: OK

Him: Well, I guess somebody’s a little testy tonight.

Me: Well, I decided to have more respect for your signs and not move them like you did mine, because I wanted you to be able to get a good video of your child.

Him: You can’t come here at 5:00 and just reserve seats like that. I was here at 5:45 and all I wanted was 2 back row seats. You can’t take the whole row. Who saves a whole row? It’s just rude.

Me: You’re welcome.

Him: I’M WELCOME? No, YOU'RE welcome.

Me: Really? For…..

Him : for , for. .. (sputtering. He then turned and walked away. )

A couple of minutes later someone else sat down at the video camera.

HE went and sat by his wife. On the row in front of me. Where she had been saving seats since 5:00.

My 2 guests arrived just then, and I directed them to the end seats where he had relocated my signs. At that point, his wife got up and called down the TWELVE seats – “NO! you can’t sit there, those are saved!”

I said, “ Yes, those are my signs, they’re with me.”

She turned around and with real VENOM said in a very loud voice “ I got here at 5 PM and I saved this whole row! And you will NOT take my seats!”

( I looked over at the guy, who was sitting forward with his face in his hands, refusing to make eye contact.)

My guests of course, wanted to avoid a scene, and spotted some (better) seats somewhere else.

You know, it just bugged me. I didn’t want to be part of the brawl which I FULLY believe they were willing to have over these 4 seats. And yet, I didn’t want to just let them bully their way around, taking whatever they wanted just because they chose not to play by the polite rules of society.

What would you have done?

In the end, of the FOURTEEN seats they had “reserved” on 2 different rows, they left one seat on each row empty.

I don’t know why, but it’s still bugging me. Not the seat moving, but just the attitude, and the very classless way they handled the situation.


Earl said...

Jerks by any other name are still jerks. They have to WANT to change before they will. Then they need a 12 step program. But that would entail a belief in a Higher Power. Like the jerk behind me yesterday who laid on his horn as soon as I stopped at the red light to make the righ hand turn, then sped past me. Of course he didn't get there any faster, I met him again at the next THREE lights. Jerk=idiot

Crystal said...

Wow. I'm always amazed by how little respect people can have for others. It makes me want to teach my kids to be nice, which I guess is a good thing. But being the mean nasty vengeful person I am, I probably would have taken his notes off and chucked 'em. And invited anyone around to come sit in those seats, because hey, they're not saved! See, no signs!

kristen said...

This is the kind of stuff that gets me fired up. I would have removed the notes from the chairs that I had previously posted my own notes. If the lady had given me crap I would have dished it right back--not in a mean way, but in a I-am-right-and-you-are-wrong sort of way. They totally messed with your stuff and actually had the nerve to argue with you. IDIOTS and JERKS.

JustRandi said...

You guys are awesome. I SO know I was right, and I know I handled it the best I could without just screaming. (I don't think too fast under pressure - other than "I can't believe this is happening... people really aren't this rude!" Stuff like that)
Anyway, it just feels good to have someone else say they were total jerks.

And wish me luck tonight - we're going back for the second performance. This time no video camera, so I'm hoping no fireworks...

Heather said...

Wow... I'm not a very fast thinker either. I would have probably would have just picked up my notes and lower lip off the floor.

Anonymous said...

hi randi:
this was completely mean what was done to you. i wanted to kick their butts (so to speak, i don't fight, but i wanted to do something to make it better for you). mean people rot, but i believe in karma and people do eventually get what is coming to them ... through no action or revenge by us. if you give out the good, you usually most of the time get back the good. if you are mean, you will eventually get knocked for it. i am never surprised when i hear a mean person ends up ticking off the wrong person and the other meaner person does something to them. people who are mean do not get it, they do not play by the rules of society, you can't get them to get it, they have to figure it out on their own (usually after a hard situation). the mean stuff is wrong, but you can stand your ground.

if it had been me, i would've put my reserved signs back over the ones that i earlier reserved. it is first come first served, so be it. and i would have stayed put until the rest of my party showed.

also, in the future, whenever you have a play and you want certain seats, (this is what we always do), i would keep at least one human from your party there sitting to prevent anyone from encroaching on your seats.

sorry you had to experience this mean thing. it was awful.

we just went to another beautiful high school play friday night. i love going to plays anytime. i wrote about it and some other awesome moments in my blog post yesterday.

you are so awesome randi and it made me sad/ticked to see someone was cruddy to you. your friend, kathleen :)

Kimberly said...

Wow...what jerks!

What I would wish to have the calmness to do would be to look 'em in the eye and say in a very sad, very sincere voice something along the lines of,

"You know, it really saddens me the way people treat each other these days. How little respect and kindness seems to be left in the world. I hope the golden rule doesn't backfire, and that people don't treat you the way you treat others. Because I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Not even people as thoughtless as you."

"Vern" said...

Maybe you could have asked, "Hey, are you a doctor?" If he said, "No," then you could have replied, "Well, me neither. But you might want to see someone about getting that pole out of your butt."

Melissa said...

WOWSERS. I am not sure what I would have done. I'm too willing to let others dictate the situation. Even though it makes my blood boil for you... I'm sorry you had to deal with this :S

JustRandi said...

Awww - you all are the BEST!!
If I were as quick-thinking as any one of you, I'd be thrilled.. .

Hey, I sent my little essay/rant in to a popular morning radio show and got email back that said they're reading it on the air tomorrow morning. I guess we'll see what Metro Denver thinks of the situation....

Anonymous said...

so cool what you did with the radio station and that they are going to read it! good for you!

JustRandi said...

Because I feel the need to drag this out one more day....

They sort of read my seat stealing experience on the radio this morning. Sort of. She got to the part about what I thought the guy SHOULD have said, and then she complained about how long my letter was and said she couldn't understand what happened next. (Umm... She's been emailing me for 3 days now. If she didn't understand it, she had plenty of opportunity.)

So basically it turned into a discussion of whether or not people should video tape their children's activities.

My issue was with the rudeness and bullying.

I got an email this morning from Vern as they were talking on the radio, saying - Man, she's missed the point completely! That little validation was so nice! Thanks Vern! you rock!

SO I've (FINALLY) decided to let it go and agree with Kathleen about karma and what you send out into the universe being returned to you.

thanks everyone!

Anonymous said...

hi randi:
the radio station person COMPLETELY missed the point. you would've been better off if she hadn't read ANY of your letter aloud since she totally messed up the whole point of your letter.

glad to see your resolve at the end to accept that karma does happen. i wholeheartedly believe that good does prevail (and the mean stuff will eventually come back to haunt people). it's out of our hands, but what we can do, is be good to the people we come into contact with (and stand up for ourselves when wrong is done to us). hey, speaking of this, weird, but yesterday i kid you not, i saw someone's license plate up here said "RUDE"!!! i mean, who puts that on a plate?? they couldn't think of anything better than RUDE???

good and kind people like you, randi, make this world a completely beautiful place to live in. you're doing things the right way, keep it up sweetie :) kathleen

ps. i'd go to a play or anywhere with you any day! i wanted to also validate your post here since the radio station blew it, too. you are so awesome really.