One thing I love about living in Miami is the great weather: I can sit outside while working year-round.
Over time, more and more businesses that feature outdoor seating spaces have popped up in my neighborhood. And more and more people are taking advantage.
I arrived at a place the other day that has such tables outside, but they were all occupied.
I took a seat inside, but close to the doors: when anyone abandoned their table, it would be mine.
About twenty minutes into my wait, a woman got up from her table and came inside the shop, leaving a food bag on the table. My opportunity was staring me in the face.
I quickly walked outside and grabbed one of the seats at the now-unoccupied table. I ignored the trash that the previous woman had left.
There was a woman at the table next to me who had a message for me as I grabbed my seat.
“Umm… the girl who was there, she’s coming back — she just went inside to get a coffee.”
I wasn’t leaving this table.
Besides, the table had TWO chairs — we could both use it at the same time. The tables are big enough for that.
Just the day before, I’d seen someone come up to an occupied table and ask the lone user if it was OK for them to use the other seat. The seated person said yes.
It was the first time I’d seen anyone do that. I’d sat at a table many times alone; no one had ever asked to share a table with me.
So maybe that’s just me. But, I would definitely use the can-I-share strategy myself.
I replied to the Good Samaritan at the adjacent table that I’d volunteered this table to be shared.
I pulled out the seat and sat down.
The woman at the next table removed one of her headphones to address me again, more directly now.
“Uhh… do you know her?”
“No, but I’m gonna sit in this seat (not the seat the coffee-grabber had been in) and we can share.”
The woman didn’t say anything else.
The coffee line must have been long; the chick who I’d now be sharing with didn’t return for a good ten minutes.
When she did, the adjacent-table woman spoke to her first.
I didn’t hear the conversation, but it was brief. The Good Samaritan got up from her table and left. The woman at my shared table stepped over and grabbed her bag — apparently it wasn’t trash — while giving me her version of a dirty look.
I guess this is the look a person gives when they want to confront but don’t have the materials (read: vocabulary) to do so. She took the now-open table that her buddy had vacated.
I told her she was welcome to retake her seat and share the table. She declined.
The adjacent-table woman who, it appeared, had failed at her job of not allowing the temporarily-empty table to be annexed, had given up her own table in shame as retribution.
Me? I wrote this post.
I’m sure that this situation made both of these ladies somewhat uncomfortable. Not in a threatening way, just in a I-don’t-know-what-to-do way.
I’m also sure that the two indirect statements from the Good Samaritan woman are usually enough to deter a person from taking a seat.
Both of these thoughts flashed through my mind as it happened. The scene was a bit uncomfortable for me, too.
Which is exactly why I took the seat.
I reminded myself that uncomfortable situations are opportunities for growth, which you know.
What you may not think about, though, is that these situations present themselves often, and in smaller doses, than what we generally think of as “uncomfortable.”What you may not think about, though, is that these situations present themselves often, and in smaller doses, than what we generally think of as “uncomfortable.” Click To Tweet
Speaking to people in elevators.
Taking a seat at a public coffee shop.
Making eye contact with people in public.
Saying No when the answer is “No.”
Calling someone when a text conversation is stretching too long.
It’s these micro-interactions that make the bigger events easier to handle.It’s these micro-interactions that make the bigger events easier to handle. Click To Tweet
When was your last uncomfortable micro-interaction, and how did you handle it? What would you have done differently? Reply and let me know — I read all responses.
See the following masterclasses on conflict and discomfort —
#1265: What You Learn Through Conflict
#771: How To Handle Conflict
#465: Conflict: It’s GOOD For You!
#375: How To Handle Verbal Confrontation
#1132: When To Be Direct In Life
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