Wednesday, December 22, 2010

This week I have been mostly observing: Bench Etiquette

Now, bench etiquette, what is it you may ask? I would classify it as the responsibility we all have not to impinge on other people’s basic right to comfortable occupation of a public park bench.
As a white collar office worker who spends on average 8 hours a day huddled in a tedious pit of despair with only the picturesque view of a rusty air conditioning unit out of my greasy office window as visual stimulation, I cherish the half an hour of freedom that is my lunch break.
Usually, during this period of sweet relief, I head down to the small local park situated near my office to relax and nibble on a tuna sandwich.
So, picture the scene, a sunny day in a nice little pocket of greenery in amongst the drabness of the office buildings. I walk into the park with a spring in my step and survey the 3 benches on offer.
When sitting on a bench I observe the following rules:
1.       Always position yourself to the furthest left or right extremity of the bench thus leaving maximum bench space for other patrons
2.       Once seated do not spread out your lunch paraphernalia along the bench unnecessarily taking up valuable real estate
3.       If another person is occupying the bench you choose to sit on, ensure you position yourself in such a way that physical contact is not made with that person at all costs. (You don’t want an awkward conversation with a stranger interrupting your lunch now do you?)
Now, if everyone observed these rules the world would undoubtedly be a happier place and many of the more violent wars in human history may have been avoided.
But do they observe these rules? No. They sprawl themselves across these park benches in flagrant disregard for other patrons. A park bench seats 2 in my book, 3 if you’re willing to occupy the middle section of the bench, (or the corridor of uncertainty as I like to classify it) although this does take some fortitude, and may result in breaking rule 3, especially if either one or both of the other people on the bench have a fat arse. A park bench definitely does not only seat 1 person.
It is an atrocity to selfishly occupy a bench in its entirety as I’m sure you’ll agree, but I saw this happen as recently as yesterday.
Yesterday I walked into the park in my normal way and surveyed the seating opportunities on offer. 2 benches were occupied with 2 people sitting on each; as I was not willing to occupy the corridor of uncertainty (and risk breaking rule 3) I turned my attention to the one remaining bench and was stunned rigid by what I saw.
Now I hope you’re sitting down (I certainly wasn’t), as this may shock and appal you.
I saw a man............. a fellow white collar inmate.................. I saw him......lying.....yes that's right, lying....... full length along the bench with his eyes closed and a self satisfied grin plastered across his smug face.
The whole bench taken.
By one man.
One selfish Bastard.
So, what do you want me to do? Where shall I sit you cheap bench whore? On the cold wall in the shade of that tree over there? With the ants on it? And risk getting piles or my lunch infested with insects?
So I beat that inconsiderate bag of excrement to death with my cheese and ham baguette.
You may think this extreme, but in my position I’m sure you would have done the same.
There are bound to be casualties in the war of bench etiquette, and sadly my cheese and ham baguette was one of these casualties.
It’s going to be a long battle, but if we stick together we can eradicate the problem of our benches being taken from us. The rest of Europe stood by as Hitler invaded Poland but we must not be as complacent.
In the words of Winston Churchill “We will fight them on the benches”   or did he say beaches?