My friend and I went to Barnes & Noble last night, and almost got caught up in a fistfight in the cafe. It gets brutal in there, you know, with not enough tables for everybody who wants to enjoy an overpriced cup of coffee, and students treating the place like their own personal study space for hours and hours and hours.
We've heard customers get sarcastic when told they couldn't keep sitting without spending, and we've seen some spirited dashes for an open chair that ended with grumbles and stinkeyes, but nothing like this business yesterday. An elderly fellow, without any apparent purchased cafe item in hand, sat himself down in the spare chair at a couple's table. The couple, understandably, didn't want to sit at close quarters with a stranger, particularly a stranger who started yelling at them for lying that the spare chair was waiting for somebody and accusing them of just wanting an extra chair for the lady's coat.
It got to the point where the two men were standing up and yelling one another -- I believe there were accusations that the table-holder had insulted the table-encroacher's hat -- and some poor Barnes & Noble employee had to come over and break them up without actually ticking either one of them off. Not possible. He finally coaxed the old guy away from the table, and talked to him for long enough that the couple finished their beverages and moved on.
A pair of young women sat at the three-chaired table next, and you just knew what was going to happen. One woman went to place an order, and the other was just starting her sandwich when the troublemaker, having eluded the Barnes & Noble employee's grasp, came and asked if he could use the third chair. The girl said sure, thinking, surely, that he would take it somewhere. Instead, he sat in it, turned sideways so that he was staring directly at her as she ate, inches away from her sandwich. She had that look you might get if a wild animal was staring you down: Perhaps if I stay very still, and pretend like I don't notice, it won't attack me.
My friend and I scooted out of there shortly after, grateful that the Extra Chair of Doom wasn't at our table. I'll have to make sure to avoid extra seats in the future. My coat can fend for itself.