Recently, I went to an event at our local theatre, to celebrate the return of War Horse in October (more on that soon!). After the event, a lot of us went to the bar for tea and cakes. Although I arrived at the function on my own, I am glad to say, I collected a couple of new friends along the way, who happily shared my love of cake. I love meeting new people, and it's a perk of the job, when you are a blogger. So there we were, squeezed into a very small bar area, enjoying some rather delicious scones, when one of our party decided to go off and find us all some tea. But what happened next, left me asking myself, was I in the wrong?
I am constantly frustrated by small pockets of the aging population. I have the utmost respect for our elderly, they have contributed their whole lives to our economy, many fought for us and others probably spent many years contributing something else to the world. So, what's my beef? It's the entitled few, who seem to think that they should get what they want, regardless of inconvenience, because they are old and I am not. The altercation in the theatre bar is a great example of this, and I wonder if it's ever ok to stand your ground in these situations, but first of all, allow me to set the scene.
I was having a lot of difficulty walking on this particular day and, although I tried to hide it, it was more obvious than I would have liked. There was nowhere to sit, so I joined my new friends, Katy and Tony, on the corner of the bar, where it was a bit of a squeeze. I was aware that I was a little bit in the way of the bar entrance, but the staff didn't seem to mind. There really wasn't anywhere else for three of us to go, and I didn't want to end up standing elsewhere alone, like a Norma No-Mates, but with cake. It wasn't a big deal, I just moved out of the way, if anyone needed to get past, but there certainly wasn't room for anyone else, unless they stood on the other side of the bar, with the staff. Personally, I wouldn't have risked it, they looked like they could have done with an extra pair of hands!
After a short while, it transpired that scones really aren't the same without tea, so Tony disappeared to join the tea queue. I felt this was very kind, as I had only met him a couple of hours previously, but I did look a bit pathetic, limping on one leg! When he left, there was just me and Katy left, with a Tony-shaped gap inbetween. It was a very important gap, because it was Tony's gap and without it, he would be without even a small slice of bar space on which to lean his tea cup. A small thing, but an important one, if we didn't want to lose him from our group.
At this point an elderly man arrived. Standing very close to me, he asked; 'would it be ok to have this corner, please?' He was very polite in his words, but he was visibly trying to shove me into Tony's gap. I had to brace myself quite hard, in order not to be shunted involuntarily. His invasion of my personal space irritated me slightly, but we both politely explained that there was a third person in our party, who would be back shortly with hot drinks and would need somewhere to put them. It didn't matter which way you looked at it, there just wasn't the space, and shoving me out of the way to create one, really wasn't the done thing. I maintained my slightly-in-the-bar-staff's-way spot and he stopped shoving, before replying; 'You hog all the space for yourself then!', in a very loud, angry, indignant, old man voice. People turned to stare, and I could tell that many of them were wondering what I had done to this poor, innocent elderly gentleman.
With that, he stomped off, and instantly found himself a space elsewhere, since he was just one person, and didn't need as much collective space as three people do. He continued to glare at me for quite sometime, but, thankfully, I was with lovely people, so we could laugh it off and talk about something else. It did get me thinking though, how I would have felt, if I had remained on my own that afternoon. If I hadn't made a couple of lovely friends, who could distract me from his actions, I think I would have been considerably more upset by his overreaction and it could well have ruined a rare trip out for me.
So, the question I'm asking is, was I right to stand my ground, or should I have made way for him? The options would have been to give up Tony's space, which seemed a bit mean, as he was our hunter-gather of hot beverages, or step out myself, which would have meant having to leave my friends and find another spot by myself, since I could not have stood unsupported by the bar. I understand the importance of making allowances for those less able than ourselves, and, had there been no other option, I would have moved, but it took him about 15 seconds to find somewhere else to stand, so there was no need to break up our party. On reflection, I am fairly confident I didn't do a lot wrong, but I wonder if, from an ettiquette point of view, it is ever ok to refuse the request of an older person? Or has 'respect your elders' gone to some people's heads?