Friday, 12 August 2011

Halfway Up The Stairs

If there is one sure fire way to upset an English person it is to sit in their seat.

Anyone who has ever been on a course, to a place of work or to a regular pub in the UK will know that there are certain seats and centres of location that are out of bounds. This is why the trend of hot desking at work doesn’t fit well with us – we like to know where we are going, who we are going to be sitting with and, most importantly, how we fit into the wider group. There are some people in the work place who after forty years of the same view have been known to break down into tears at the relocation of little more than a few inches.

If you want to annoy someone in the UK there is no better way to do it than to enrol on an evening course, wait for 3 to 5 weeks and then suddenly sit somewhere else. Frankly – if you come out alive you’ll have done well.

In fact one night a few months ago, in a fit of wild abandonment, Herself and I decided to swap sides of the bed to see what happened. It lasted all of five minutes – and confused the cats no end.

I was thinking about this today at work when a phone failure led to me sitting at a different hot desk to the one I have grown accustomed to. As I sat there: nervously watching my back and feeling twitchy because of the move of twelve whole feet down the same corridor, I found myself asking what my choice of seating says about my personality.

Given the choice of location at any meeting, club or social occasion most people, including myself, will try not to sit at the front. Often fisticuffs will break out in the jostle of bodies to remain central. No one likes to be exposed, or so it seems, unless they are Ultra Confident and absolutely love being the centre of attention (or else has a role at the meeting that means they have no choice but to be at the front) – Most dictators probably started going wrong in life by continually insisting on sitting at the front where people could adore them

My personal preference is somewhere towards the back and in the middle. Not right at the back, you understand, but sufficiently central that when John Smith arrives half way through the meeting I won’t have to grudgingly stand up and let him through.

I’d say that this probably says something about my desire to hide myself away and possibly hints at a lack of confidence. The same has been said of all my extroverted sides – my guitar, sax, paintings…are all something to hide behind.

So maybe I should make myself sit at the front for a change, put myself out there for all to see and find out how it feels? Life sometimes forces us into those situations: where we have to stand up for the things we believe in, or have to stand up for the way our job should be run. We don’t always like doing it: but sometimes…

But I think, on the whole, I like it where I am.

In the middle

Hiding away

Laughing uproariously at the absurdities of those on the front line

15 comments:

Gorilla Bananas said...

Yes, that's the classic behaviour of a herd animal. The middle of the herd is the safest place from all predators except hyenas, which just walk through the herd without being noticed. I assume you prefer to be downwind...well maybe not.

Michael said...

I love it when someone (you) spells out the rules that we all follow, but don't really think about. We are silly people. Canadians are similar to you re: seating, but they won't say anything about it. They just shove it down and then come 30 minutes early the next time to get THEIR seat.

I would hate to have a hot desk. I love my four walls and door. I don't like working around or with others (interpret away).

English Rider said...

Great post. I loved the image of confused cats and I've always enjoyed Kermit's wistful little song. However, as I've never worked in an office situation with others, the question of the psychiatry of seating never occurred to me before.

The Bug said...

Oh I am VERY territorial about my space! You just try moving that pen to the other side of my desk mister! And lord help the person who innocently adjusts the seat height of my desk chair (there's nothing innocent about it - nothing!). In a group setting I do prefer to sit all the way in the back. Either from all those years in school of being a "Wallace" or because I want to be able to watch the maximum amount of people.

As far as bed sides go, when we were first married Dr. M was pretty set in his ways, which involved utilizing the whole bed as much as possible. So we compromised - every time I got up to go to the bathroom in the night we switched sides of the bed. Yes, we really did. For years. Then we figured out that we didn't really need to do that anymore. But all that moving around made us less territorial - it doesn't really matter which side we sleep on now.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

GB - i guess it depends on what the wind is carrying

Michael - we used to be the same (not mentioning it), but increasingly we're becoming a nation of moaners constantly going on about "our rights"

English - i guarantee that there is still a situation that you go to where you face this though

Bug - glad you are relaxed about your sleeping arrangements

Argent said...

I also like certain seats on the bus. Left side. Window, facing forward, on the high seats, so I can see down the whole bus over people's heads. I am territorial at work too, I HATE when people move my things around (usually happens if I'm off for a day or two).

I think I owuld be a terrible driver, demanding my own space...

Jerry said...

We feel most comfortable in a group, and the group tends to sit towards the back. In my younger years I played jazz drums....and got to sit way in the back.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Argent - the worst thing about getting onto busses is when you can't find a seat you can have to yourself and have to chose which total stranger you will sit next to. IE which ignorant sod will be stealing 3/4 of the seat so that you are constantly in danger of falling throughout the journey and constantly having your arm jostled

Jerry - Jazz drums eh? Drummers do traditionally get to hide a bit, don't they?

Lydia said...

What a great commentary, thoughtful and funny. I remember kids were like that in grammar school if the teacher made them switch seats...waaahhhHH! I do not know exactly what a hot desk is but I think I catch the drift. In the last office I worked in we changed buildings, which was a huge shake-up that everyone took in stride. But once they were established in their own cubicles, woe be to the supervisor who thought of a better arrangement!!!

The video is precious, and perfect here. I am confused in watching it for "Puppethood" clues. Is this a digital piece? If not, the puppeteer would have to be hiding in the stairs. I just cannot tell.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Lydia - hot desking is the term used for when you work in a building but don't have a specific desk to sit at. So you grab a seat wherever is free and sit there

I think the original idea was a combination of trying to save space and to stop territorialism at work - but inevitably people still try and sit somewhere they know if they can

Friko said...

Jinksy took this and put it on Fridge Soup and I agreed with you that most of us sit somewhere neither up nor down.

The funniest thing happens when you go on a day trip in the coach. Everybody keeps to the seat they've first chosen throughout the journey. And heaven help the one who changes!

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Friko - yes. We all pile on and off and go back to our original seat on the coach regardless

Rachel Fox said...

I am the nervous type and so sit nearest the door (or emergency exit if available...).
x

Rob-bear said...

You have, in this pose, raised several, serious existential conundra.
I believe there is a solution for these: Feed the Pixies! Or else!

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

rachel - i like your strategy. That one always used to worry me - if your desk is next to the window is that the nearest exit that you should be leaving by?

Rob bear - hugry...