Are Those Pants Taken?

There are two kinds of people — those who ask if the seat is taken and those who just take the seat. Each group seems somewhat annoyed at the behavior of the other.

  • If at a coffee shop and you spot an empty seat next to someone, do you ask that person if the seat is available?
  • If at the movies you see two seats in the middle of the row where you prefer to sit, do you head toward the seats or ask the neighboring people if the seats are taken?
  • If you’re at Chipotle and there’s a group of tourists looking confused about the menu, do you go in front of them and begin placing your order or wait patiently behind them?
  • If you’re at the yoga studio and it’s crowded, do you ask your fellow practitioners if you can squeeze into the sliver of space between them or just roll out your mat?
  • If while driving you need to get over, do you wait until others pass or just get over?

I believe in being polite, but if no one has laid claim to something, I’m not asking questions.

One day at a coffee shop, I was deep in thought until someone tapped me on the shoulder. I took off my headphones and after some stammering on his part, the coffee drinker asked whether the seat next to me was taken. A complete interruption for nonsense! And he wasn’t even cute.

My friend recently described in her blog, Reflections of a Partly-Southern Belle, feeling guilty for cutting in front of other drivers in order to shorten her commute. That’s called smart driving in my book. Maybe it’s because I’m conditioned to driving in NYC where it’s like a video game — cabs stopping suddenly to discharge or pick up passengers, skateboarders weaving in and out, bikers whizzing by, buses lurching in your lane, cars weaving in and out — it’s just a way of life to be able to react quickly. In fact, if I can tell that someone is trying to cut in front of me but they’re being too tentative about it, I shout (while in my car, of course), “What are you waiting for, a red carpet? Get in already!”

When I drive in Texas (where the Partly-Southern Belle lives), people have gotten irrationally angry at me for merging in front of them. I’ve been honked at, tailgaited and followed alongside while the driver mouths or gestures obscenities. It doesn’t shake me, but Texas is a state where you can legally carry a concealed handgun, so I don’t get all Brooklyn with them.

I was at a two-hour sale at Norma Kavali’s New York boutique. With it being a flash sale, the place was packed. The downstairs sales area was a makeshift dressing room filled with women trying on clothes. When I came back from checking out an outfit in the mirror, a pair of cargo leggings I’ d selected had disappeared. I shouted, “Who took my pants?” Nobody fessed up. The saleswoman scurried to find another pair and came back with the remaining size small into which I wouldn’t be able to get one leg.

Ten minutes later, I spot my pants on a woman with no hips. I step to her and she admits that she took them but said she didn’t know they were mine (She is a bad thief! Why would she try them on while I’m still there?). I pointed to my jacket, hanging in front of the pants; and, my purse and shoes, sitting below the pants. Then I told her to take my pants off.

It dawned on me at that moment, that what I was that feeling might be similar to how someone feels when I merge in front of them in traffic, or take their husband’s seat, or squeeze between them and their friend in yoga class.

So, I decided not to stay mad at Hipless. Instead, I helped her find a great jacket that flattered her body WAY more than MY foil cargo leggings.


One thought on “Are Those Pants Taken?

  1. I’m a life-long native New Yorker. Some of what you experienced is in my DNA. I do a bit of the aggressive New Yorkering and I also do the “considerate thing,” all while maintaining a professinal attitude. It’s a fast-paced city…


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