I had a singular experience yesterday. It involved some real-life D&S with a man I’d never met. It happened in broad daylight and showed how far some people will go to uphold their ideals.
And yes, it happened at Starbucks.
My local bookstore has taken the step of sealing up all of its electrical outlets to prevent people such as myself from sitting there writing all day. When my drink and battery ran out, it was time to find some electrons. I wound up at a not-my-usual-Starbucks. All the tables near outlets were occupied, so I reluctantly sat at one with an iPad and about Solon stacked on top of it. When the owner showed up I said “I’m sorry. I need to charge my battery and there was nowhere else to sit.”
“This is not why I came here.”
“I understand. I won’t talk to you at all.”
“No. Sitting at a table with another person is not what I came here for.” The man’s tone was aggressive. He had dark hair and eyebrows and he knitted them.
“Look, can’t we just share? I need to charge this. See, here.” I took my laptop off the table and put it on my knees. “You can have the whole table. I won’t bother you, I swear.”
“No. I’m not comfortable with that.”
At this point I felt a streak of irritation. “What’s wrong with sharing?”
And then the situation went nonlinear.
“What kind of leftist propaganda is this? Are you from Portland or something?” He roamed around the place. “Look, here’s a place to sit. Here’s a whole communal table.”
Either I hadn’t noticed some other outlets, or people had left. But by this time I was seriously annoyed by the man’s aggressiveness and his wildly incorrect assumptions. I was also bewildered that he’d make such a big deal of it.
“You’re expending all this energy running around, but you won’t just sit here?”
“No, I won’t.”
“Then why don’t you sit somewhere else?”
His eyes went wide. “You have got to be fucking kidding me.”
At that point I dug in my heels. If he was going to be an asshole, he deserved asshole treatment. “Well now I’m settled in!”
“This is my table!”
“I’m sitting here. Deal with it.”
And so I sat. And the man stood over me, definitely inside a North American’s comfort zone, even a woman’s.
We stayed that way for a solid hour.
During that time, I worked on my Eagle review, checked Fetlife, wrote fanfic, and wrote to friends. Near the beginning of the hour I even called home, making no mention of the situation, but asking Mr. Tungsten if he wanted to postpone dinner because I wasn’t all that hungry. This was not to stick a shiv in anyone’s side, although the man may have felt shivved. It was to let him know that I was planning to stay and he might want to conserve his energy.
At one point I asked a guy who was there with his son to be so kind as to get my tall, one-pump, vanilla bean frappuccino, no whip from the counter. The guy gave me a very funny look. It may have been because of the man standing in a sort of parade rest with his toes pointing outwards and his hands in his pockets. The leather bra I’d worn to the Eagle last night may have been partly visible under my sleeveless T with the quote from Charlotte Brontë.
I try to avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking upward.
I gave pleading expression. “I’m very sorry. I’d get it myself, but I can’t get up.”
Another wary look. Still, I got my drink.
At no point did any of the baristas intervene, nor any of the many people who stood in line to get drinks. One a lady at the next table over offered an extra chair but that was well before the stalemate had been achieved. We were too busy arguing.
Although man’s nearness was distracting, but not so much that I was unable to work. There was no fear of violence. Once I glanced up and saw he was looking over my head at the parking lot. So I worked and socialized until it was time to hit “Publish” and go home.
“Just so you know, ” I said once I’d packed everything up. “I would have moved if you’d said ‘please’.”
“I didn’t need to say please!”
“Well you weren’t nice to me at all.”
“I was nice, in the beginning when I said I wasn’t comfortable. What you did was an injustice.”
“It was not an injustice!” I scoffed.
“Well, the world’s full of injustice,” I pointed out. I left off any mention about how he shouldn’t try to bully people into doing what he thought was just.
“Yes it is. Because it’s full of unjust people like you!”
I just hoisted my backpack to my shoulder, shaking my head. “Goodbye. Have a nice day.”
Featured image via TheDimpledSpider.com