In one of my first entries on this blog, I wrote that I have become an expert on the location of every electrical outlet in all the cafes within a five block radius of my apartment. As laptopping in cafes becomes more and more common (these days there are more cafe people with laptops than without), this knowledge is necessary for survival. There's no worse feeling than lugging your laptop to a cafe, waiting in line, and then turning around with your drink to see that all the tables by the outlets are taken by other people. Seats by the outlets are coveted positions, and nothing brings out the worst in people when others are doing the coveting.
Several months ago, I went into a local Starbucks and gleefully nabbed the last table by an outlet. I ordered a coffee and bagel, set up my gear, plugged myself in and got to work. Five minutes later, I heard an angry "Hey! Excuse me!" from in front of me. I looked up, and there was a pert blonde lady in her late-twenties, looking down at me with daggers in her eyes.
"I reserved that table," she said through a deepening frown. "It's mine."
I blinked and removed my headphones. "Reserved?" I asked, genuinely confused. "How?" Could you actually do that?
"I put my jacket on the chair," she said.
I looked behind me and saw nothing. "I don't see a jacket," I told her truthfully.
"Yeah, it's over there." She answered, and then pointed to a jacket - which was hanging off the chair of an entirely different table. "See? It's right there."
"Um," I replied, talking slowly and trying to find the right words. "That's not this table. That's another table."
"Well, I *meant* it to be this one." She retorted, as if it was obvious. "So could you get up?"
I debated for maybe half a second. I looked around at the crowded cafe, where every table (bar the one with her jacket) was taken.
"Sorry," I said. "If you wanted this table you should have put your jacket on this table."
Her eyes narrowed into slits. "You are SUCH a gentleman," she huffed. Then stormed over to the empty table to collect her jacket. Just then a guy at another table waved at her and said "Hey, there's an outlet here. I'm not using it. You can share this table with me, if you want." She looked at him, looked at her stuff, huffed again, and then reluctantly agreed.
Normally the story would end there, but today I went to the same cafe and I saw her again. Not only that, but she was with the same guy! They didn't recognize me (why would they?) but for some reason I recognized them. I couldn't tell if they were a couple or not, but I'd like to think that they were. That on that fateful day, they shared a table and made a connection. That he hesitantly asked her out and she agreed, and after a short time love bloomed.
Maybe they'll get married one day, and decades from now they'll tell their grandchildren about that jerk who enabled them to meet by not giving up his table.