Monday, 27 June 2011

It's not difficult!

Sometimes in life, you see people struggling with things which are easy. I don't mean that you should judge someone harshly for failing to grasp the quickest way to solve a differential equation or not being able to name a Mozart symphony from the first few notes - I mean things which are really not difficult and which form part of every day life.

For instance, there are times in our lives when we are faced with finding a particular seat. On a plane, in the theatre or even on a boat (which is where I am as I write this, as it happens). Usually, you're faced with a ticket which may "23 A" or "Row X, seat 76" on it. If it's really complicated then maybe it will say "STALLS ROW A SEAT 2". But in any of these cases, it's not difficult to find your seat.

Though I often wonder, when sitting in the theatre waiting for the show to start or sitting in my seat on a plane waiting for others to board, whether I have some super-human ability which is rare and which all of the other people trying to find their seats somehow lack. You see people wandering up and down in the aisle of the theatre, looking at their ticket, looking at the seats and looking back at their ticket again. They see the words "Row A" and are bemused by this most mystic and unfamiliar rune. What could it possibly mean? They seem to have a puzzled look on their face as if faced with an impenetrable riddle which they must solve in order to find their seat.

This is a mild source of both bemusement and amusement when it happens before the show starts. I'm usually sitting there staring at a big red curtain clockwatching, so watching the stupid people fail to understand what "ROW V SEAT 19" could possibly mean makes me chuckle. But when it happens just after the show starts, then it makes my blood boil. The most important, scene-setting, part of a show can come just after the curtain goes up. Many any important line is lost in the distraction which is someone being shown how to read a simple grid reference by someone shining around a bright torch in a dark theatre.

On a plane, the only annoyance is when someone has dithered so long about their seat that you've just settled down in your aisle seat, only to have to stand up and disarrange yourself and your things to let them slide past into the window seat. That's not the most annoying thing on planes though.

I tend to get onto the plane early. I do that so I can get my bag into an overhead locker about my seat. And then the arrogant latecomers arrange. These are not the people who sheepishly stroll onto the plane knowing that they have held other people up. These are the men (sorry, no intention to be sexist, but it's always been men) in suits (again, only my experience) who are still talking on their phone, and who stroll onto the plane once everyone else is seated. They are usually carrying cases so large they are only borderline qualifiers for cabin baggage and then they try to get them into the locker.

It's at this point that they seem to think that everything already up there is much less important than their own case. They slide other bags around, even sometimes take them down and move them to other parts of the plane, just so that their own overstuffed case can sit as close as possible to their seat. After all, they couldn't possibly waste a second of their valuable time going to get their bag back from slightly further down the cabin when the plane lands...

But it's not just finding seats which isn't difficult. Why is it that some people think that by pulling a funny face and breathing in a bit, it's possible to walk through them. You notice it when getting off the tube, when getting out of a lift, even when coming out of the toilet in a bar. If you are waiting to go into a door - whatever kind of door - and there are already people behind the door, then generally those people will need to get out before you can get in. So maybe the worst place to stand is directly in front of that door. When getting on the tube, it's just common sense to stand out of the way, but I've noticed something a little more odd when getting out of a lift; the people standing on the outside of the lift usually feel quite affronted that anyone else should be in their lift. You can see the look on their face. A single look which says "I have pressed the button, and so this is MY lift now. What on earth are you doing already in it?" And then, if you're anything like me, you shuffle out with the apologetic gait possible as if to acknowledge that yes - it is their lift now, and I'm terribly sorry for standing in it.

Of course, the other thing which isn't difficult is walking down one flight of stairs rather than taking the lift down to the ground floor from the first. But please. Don't get me started...

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