A couple of weeks ago The Husband and I were sitting in a coffee shop in Ketchikan, Alaska. It was a busy place. A local haunt as well as a warm spot for the “cruisers.” In a previous life, it had probably been a tavern, as evidenced by the long bar that ran along the back of the rectangular room. It even had a mirrored back wall.
In front of the bar were about six tables. Tables for two were against the window, and larger ones, set for four people were in between the windows and the bar. Off to one side were a couple of computers that patrons could use for a fee. In the corner farthest from the door were a few comfortable chairs, and a coffee table.
There was no table service. You ordered and paid at the bar, waited, and then took the drinks to a table. We ordered two coffees, and took them one of the small tables in the window. We could see the waterfront, fishing boats in a small marina, and our cruise ship, that seemed taller than the town itself. When we got there, there were people at three of the larger tables, but as we sipped our coffee, they left. A few minutes later a well-coiffed lady in a bright red wool coat entered. In her gloved hands were about six plastic carrier bags from the nearby merchants that catered to the folks on the cruise ships. The bags didn’t look heavy, but there were a lot of them.
She came in with a rush of cold air, and stood almost in the middle of the place, looking around at the unoccupied tables, the bar, the other patrons. Then she dropped the bags on a table for four, and looked toward the bar. A gentlemen in a dark winter coat and trilby hat entered, and joined her. After some discussion, she sent him to the bar to order their libations.
Then she sat down at a table for two in the window. Her bags were still spread across the larger table, effectively making it unavailable for anyone else. The gentlemen returned with their drinks, joined her at window table.
I sat there wondering about a possible reason for someone to take up two tables in a busy restaurant. What thought processes lead to her believe that the behavior is okay. But then I’m often flummoxed by such things. Like the person on front of you on an escalator who steps off at the top and stops. Or the person who abandons their grocery shopping cart, complete with an occupied baby carrier, in the middle of an aisle. Or the lady I see walking in my neighborhood with her baby in a stroller, a large dog on a leash, while talking on a cell phone.
Doesn’t anyone pay attention?