Invariably, when I attended a conference or a lecture or a workshop, the people in charge would give me a hefty press packet or a 300-lb. syllabus that might come in handy later.
It made it SO much simpler if I had space to put my things so my hands were free to write and take notes.
It also proved to cut down on the chatter that always came with a seat companion.
"Are you a reporter?" they'd ask. "Oh, what do you report on? What kind of stories do you do? Have I seen anything you've written?"
"Was that something important? Why do you care about that? What did he/she say?" are typical.
So — to make a long story short — I really like to sit off by myself and usually near the aisle to I can get out quickly and on my way to the next session, lecture, class...deadline writing.
That brings in what I call the Glom Factor.
It's the need I see in others to glom on, to sit by, next to, or close to someone else, usually me.
I could go into an empty auditorium and pick a remote seat location and almost without fail, somebody simply must have the seat adjacent to me — even with hundreds of other choices available.
If I manage to maintain my two-seats, then they MUST slip past me to the middle so I have to move my stuff and miss the opening remarks.
It's a curse, one Marc and I observed in action the other day when we went to the movies.
We'd gone in the afternoon to a low-rent movie house to see a movie that was nearly into DVD. We laughed as we chose seats on the chart from a virtually empty house layout.
We went in, observed the space all around us and settled in...only to have four of the largest, loudest people I've even seen come in and sit in front of us, never to shut up.
Then a family with an irritating teenager who twirled his drink cup throughout the show sat on the left.
A rabid texter sat on the right, holding his phone next to him to cut the light but flooding the area with white light nevertheless.
The rest of the theater was still basically empty while the crowd surged around us.
It's hopeless and almost funny when you think about it. We can't figure out the deal here.
Maybe we're just really likable people, huh? That's gotta be it.