The Nerve! Person Sits in Chair Next to Me

I am walking away from Goldie’s with an iced coffee that is far too cold for the current weather when I spot two unoccupied, comfy-padded seats in front of a coffee table. Knowing the rarity of my find, I beeline over to stake my claim, slinging my backpack onto one chair and plopping down into the other. But just as I begin to relish in the peace of the private cove I have so tactfully secured, I am approached by a 5’ 8” man holding a chicken panini, who gestures toward my second seat. 

“Excuse me, is anyone sitting here?” 

I am shocked. Flabbergasted. Appalled. Did he not understand the sacred unwritten chair rule that she who occupies a seat occupies all seats within a 1 meter radius? Did he not see that the chair beside me belonged to my Jansport backpack, who deserved a comfortable place to rest after braving the cold tiles of Baker 200? Did he not have a sense of basic human respect and decency?

“Yes, bitch. Leave!” I scream. He blanches and tucks his tail, gut-wrenchingly realizing the inhumanity of his actions before limping away in defeat. I kick my legs onto the table and sigh, satisfied with my dominance. 

That would be the correct response, at least. But in the time-pressured moment, I am overcome by a spell of weakness. I proceed to lift my backpack off of my neighboring chair and expose its cushion to the vulture above. And then the chicken panini is set on the coffee table and I feel a weight sink down into the black faux leather beside me. 

This is a declaration of war. 

I begin my battle strategy with a small but deadly leg bounce, allowing myself just enough movement to initiate a rumble in the adjacent seat. My opponent strikes harder. He begins to unwrap the white paper around his panini, the crinkling louder and more obnoxious with each fold. I slurp the diluted liquid at the bottom of the iced coffee I finished 15 minutes ago. My opponent takes a bite of his sandwich. I put four pieces of Orbit Spearmint Sugarfree gum in my mouth. My opponent chews. I chew. My opponent swallows. And then I just simply cannot.

I shut my laptop that I did not use productively in any way over the past half-hour and shove it into my backpack. Then I rise from my chair to signal my surrender, accepting defeat at the hands of the insolent little parasite who will probably voluntarily get tested for COVID in the upcoming week. 

My next class does not start for another 30 minutes, so I begin to circle the atrium in hopes of finding a new place to sit. But there are no longer any sets of two empty chairs, so I approach a nearby girl with her coat on the seat next to her and do as I must to survive:

“Excuse me, is anyone sitting here?” 

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