Public Post!

Have you ever been a reg­u­lar at a café or deli? Regular enough that the peo­ple behind the counter ask if you want ’the usu­al’ or even type your order in with­out ask­ing at all?

Those of us who have know there are some quirks about this expe­ri­ence that non-reg­u­lars don’t seem to notice. One of those things is assigned seat­ing.

I don’t know of any café that puts names on the seats, but you bet­ter believe every reg­u­lar has their favorite chair or cor­ner table. There are pas­sive aggres­sive fights over opti­mal seat­ing. Customers will come in 5, 10, 30 min­utes ear­li­er, just to get their seat. I know, I’m one of them!

The café I love to write at has a small indoor seat­ing area and a larg­er patio seat­ing area. I have pre­ferred seat­ing in both of these sec­tions depend­ing on the weath­er and my health sta­tus. Outside, there is a mix of tables at chairs, and couch­es great for loung­ing. Scattered umbrel­las ensure plen­ty of shade from the sum­mer sun. But not all seats are equal! My favorite spot is a cor­ner couch piece under a huge can­talev­ered umbrel­la along the side of the café. I can see every­one com­ing and going from that spot, and I get morn­ing sun while being shad­ed from the hot after­noon. The couch is cozy, I love putting my feet up, but it’s not always the best spot to focus. Since the couch is a sec­tion­al that sur­rounds a cen­ter table, two or three groups of peo­ple can sit there at a time, mak­ing it a pop­u­lar cor­ner for con­ver­sa­tion. The couch also isn’t great at pro­vid­ing back sup­port when I need it.

Inside the café is tricky, as the lay­out occa­sion­al­ly changes! In the cen­ter of the room, beside love­ly win­dows, is the air con­di­tion­er. This vent is point­ed straight down, and the air that blasts from it might as well come from the arc­tic: it’s freez­ing! Currently there’s a tall com­mu­nal table that sits under the AC, and when the café is packed, this long table is the main turnover for peo­ple who only stay long enough to pick up their cof­fee and run.

On either side of the tall table are tables with chairs on one side and a wall bench on the oth­er, and one of those cor­ners butts up against the sug­ar cart. It’s that table against the cart that I have claimed for myself. From the wall bench there I can see the door, most of the patio, the entire café, and I’m away from the air con­di­tion­er (most­ly). I also have a chance to point out the sug­ar when peo­ple get con­fused. That hap­pens more than you’d think.

I arrive at the café vari­ably around 8am. This morn­ing I was here at 7:30. This morn­ing, some­one was seat­ed at my table. This hap­pens occa­sion­al­ly, and I’ll take one of the less-desire­able seats for a few min­utes until they fin­ish up, then I can sneak in and claim my appro­pri­ate seat.

// We inter­rupt this blog post to move the com­put­er to the favorite seat in question!//

But this morn­ing, my seat was claimed by Another Regular! This is the worst kind of sit­u­a­tion. Because all the reg­u­lars know each oth­er, we also know how long we lounge around the café. And this reg­u­lar, in MY chair, likes to sip her cof­fee and read the news on her ipad for at least two hours.

I’m not going to begrudge any­one their morn­ing rit­u­al, I enjoy my slow morn­ings myself, but she was in my chair! And I’m not about to make a scene in my favorite café. I’m not that pet­ty.

But dammit, I can’t get com­fort­able at the tall table and most of the oth­ers have an AC vent point­ed at them, leav­ing me too chilly to think, let alone write!

Thankfully, I tend to show up ear­ly, and that means I almost always get my unas­signed seat.