Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Am I an asshole?

Here's a good one for you ethicists out there:

I'm there 1.5 hours early to a book-signing event. During that time someone puts down a fanny pack and an umbrella on two seats next to mine. Fast forward an hour, and it's 10 minutes till showtime and the owners of these items are nowhere to be seen. The room is now absolutely packed, and everyone is eying these seats.

An elderly woman and her very frail husband ask me if the seats are taken. I stand up and ask the crowd if anyone left their items there. No one answers. I tell them to sit down. A man in front of me gives me a look and says, "That's not how things are supposed to work." I ignore him. The couple sit down and thank me. Her husband is rail thin and unsteady on his feet, and needs help sitting down. He looks about 80 at least.

Well, just before the event is supposed to start, the people with the items come back... and they are also senior citizens, although they only look about 70 and in very good health. They tell us that those are their seats. I told them that they weren't here so I give them away to this needy couple. The late-comers say, "Sorry, but we arrived here an hour early to get these seats."
The older couple awkwardly shuffle out, and we all feel like assholes. Luckily, a person in a nearby row offers his seat to the elderly man (I tried to offer mine but he didn't hear me).

So: Which wins out - arriving early and staking out a seat vs. giving a seat to someone older than you are... even if you're 70.

My opinion: I probably should have shut up and respected the time-honored ritual of seat saving, but I also get points for trying.


Ira said...

the question here is not whether or not you are an asshole (i think we all know the answer here), but why you would attend a book signing for senior citizens. so, in the future, don't take the valuable seats away from the elderly. stay at home and watch the Seinfeld reruns -- you can record them, so no need to show up on the couch 1.5 hours ahead of time. the downside is, though, the Q&A after the show might not be as interesting.

Dianna said...

No, you're not. But the couple sitting next to us were definitely assholes. At this particular bookstore, there's a rule that if you're saving a seat and the person doesn't get there by 10 minutes to the start of the event, that seat can no longer be saved. So when that couple strolled in 10 minutes past the time the event was supposed to start, they were already on borrowed time. And, the fact that they kept saying "We've come from very far you know" meant absolutely nothing to me. Yes, that's great. You're British. I guess that explains why you're a jackass. Then that shrew of a woman in front of us with the badly dyed red hair had to go and run her mouth. She is very lucky that you didn't let me talk to her.

Maybe you're an asshole for bringing this up so that I get all razzed again! Kidding.

shesthesheriff said...

You should have told that guy behind you David Macaulay's book signing for 'The Way Thing's Work' was last week and this was actually the book signing for 'You're a douchebag.'

Pam said...

I'm with the sheriff. You did the right thing. You should move to Colorado where the people are nice and things like that don't happen Unless of course you are dealing with some asshole east coast transplants.