Power Move

Standard

There are nine tables in the breakfast room where I work. Six tables seat four, and three tables seat two.

One of the two-tops is “my” table. When my coworker trained me, he showed me which table he sits at when he isn’t bustling around the breakfast room. He puts a box of disposable gloves on that table to mark it as his. In addition to the box of gloves, when I’m working I leave my spray bottle of cleaner and the rag I use to wipe the tables there as well. Usually, I drape my jacket over the chair too. Since there are only eight sets of salt and pepper shakers for the breakfast room, my table does without. I don’t need salt and pepper while I’m working anyway.

Once during my training, an older couple came into the breakfast room. The man used a wheelchair. While my back was turned, the man and woman occupied the table my coworker and I had been using. When I turned around, I saw they had moved the box of gloves and whatever else had been on the table to a nearby highchair that was not in use. One of the chairs had been moved away from the table, and the man had maneuvered his wheelchair into its place. I wondered why the couple had chosen to move things in order to use that particular table when several others were unoccupied, but decided it was probably the easiest one for the man to use with his wheelchair.

Fast forward several weeks, and I was working on my own. No one had usurped my table territory since my training. I hadn’t considered it might happen again.

I’d been in the dish room/storage area, so my jacket was on my body instead of hanging on the back of the chair at the table I used as my home base. However, the box of gloves, the spray bottle, and the wiping rag were all on the table. To me it seemed obvious that the table was claimed.

I walked into the breakfast room, but before I could make my way to “my” table to deposit my jacket, I saw an older woman moving my work accessories to another table. She moved the box of gloves and the spray bottle and the rag I used to wipe down tables to the empty two-top next to where I normally sit.

I was shocked! First, I would never move items that didn’t belong to me from one table to another if there were plenty of other places to choose from to sit. Second, in the time of COVID, I touch as little as possible when out in public. (Note: the woman did NOT wash her hands after moving the things from one table to another.)

I looked around to see if perhaps this woman, like the woman during training, was breakfasting with a companion who used a wheelchair. She was not. The gentleman who joined her was not using a mobility aid of any kind.

I stood in the doorway, perplexed. I wondered what was so special about the table in question. Nothing made it more attractive, as far as I could tell. In fact, I think it was less attractive, missing as it was the salt and pepper shakers. (In fact, the woman had to snag the salt and pepper from another table so she and her companion could season their meals.)

I felt very territorial about that table! It was mine! How dare she move my things! How dare they sit in my spot! I wanted to march over there and give them what for!

In the end, I did not march over and tell the couple anything. I knew I’d seem ridiculous if I did, and besides, I didn’t want to add strife to my day. I knew I had no real reason to pick a fight with the customers. Of course, as The Man pointed out, the guests can sit at any table they want because, well, they’re the guests. It’s not really “my” table. I don’t own it. I have no real claim to it.

I’m still puzzled by the situation. Why was that particular table so alluring to the woman? Why did she want to sit in a place that required her to move items obviously left there by someone else? What did she find so appealing about that particular location? These are questions I will never be able to answer.

Even more puzzling are my own thoughts in response to the woman’s behavior. Why did I feel so territorial about that table? Why did I want to fight a total stranger (and a paying customer) over a piece of furniture that’s not really mine? I don’t own that table. I don’t even rent it. I sit there probably less than an hour a day, three days a week. Why should I care if a stranger sits there for ten or fifteen minutes? I could have sat at any other table in the room while “mine” was occupied. (In fact, I didn’t sit anywhere while the couple occupied “my” table. Instead, I stood in silly, silent protest while they ate, thinking I would show them. I’m sure they didn’t even notice.)

I’m the kind of person who can easily get caught up with wanting people to do what’s right. I think everyone should do what’s right, and, obviously, sitting at someone else’s table is not the right thing to do! Also (obviously), I should pick my battles and not get so caught up in other people’s actions when they’re not hurting anyone. I promise you, those people sitting where they did hurt no one. If I was distressed, it was because of my own brain activity.

Human behavior is so weird and interesting. That woman pulled a power move on me, and I admit, she got to me. I may never understand her motivation, but I appreciate that she gave me the chance to explore my own thinking.

About Blaize Sun

My name is Blaize Sun. Maybe that's the name my family gave me; maybe it's not. In any case, that's the name I'm using here and now. I've been a rubber tramp for nearly a decade.I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. For most of my years on the road, my primary residence was my van. For almost half of the time I was a van dweller, I was going it alone. Now my (male) partner and I (a woman) have a travel trailer we can pull with our truck. We have a little piece of property, and when we're not traveling, we park our little camper there. I was a work camper in a remote National Forest recreation area on a mountain for four seasons. I was a camp host and parking lot attendant for two seasons and wrote a book about my experiences called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. During the last two seasons as a work camper on that mountain, I was a clerk in a campground store. I'm also a house and pet sitter, and I pick up odd jobs when I can. I'm primarily a writer, but I also create beautiful little collages; hand make hemp jewelry and warm, colorful winter hats; and use my creative and artistic skills to decorate my life and brighten the lives of others. My goal (for my writing and my life) is to be real. I don't like fake, and I don't want to share fake. I want to share my authentic thoughts and feelings. I want to give others space and permission to share their authentic selves. Sometimes I think the best way to support others is to leave them alone and allow them to be. I am more than just a rubber tramp artist. I'm fat. I'm funny. I'm flawed. I try to be kind. I'm often grouchy. I am awed by the stars in the dark desert night. I hope my writing moves people. If my writing makes someone laugh or cry or feel angry or happy or troubled or comforted, I have done my job. If my writing makes someone think and question and try a little harder, I've done my job. If my writing opens a door for someone, changes a life, I have done my job well. I hope you enjoy my blog posts, my word and pictures, the work I've done to express myself in a way others will understand. I hope you appreciate the time and energy I put into each post. I hope you will click the like button each time you like what you have read. I hope you will share posts with the people in your life. I hope you'll leave a comment and share your authentic self with me and this blog's other readers. Thank you for reading.  A writer without readers is very sad indeed.

5 Responses »

  1. I would have felt the same way. You are a good writer. I felt like I was there and got mad too. Her sense of entitlement is galling. Clearly someone was sitting there but they did not matter.

  2. You are a good writer. I felt like I was there. Since they were work items, she may have thought someone just forgot them and it was no big deal. If your jacket was there, I bet she would not have moved everything. But I would have been annoyed by what seems like her sense of entitlement. And I agree, it is curious –why that table?

    • Thanks for your kind words about my writing, Rena. I appreciate it. I’m glad I could take you there with me.

      People can be so strange. I too wish I knew why she was so attracted to that particular table.

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