One table. Just one. One table in a sea of tables is adapted for someone in a wheelchair. All the other tables have four chairs in four spaces, all bolted to the floor, all impossible to move. One table, right on the aisle, right where it should be, has one missing chair, perfect for easy access. There are, and I can be specific because I counted, 5 people sitting at the various, say, 100 tables. And one guy is sitting in the chair right across from the empty space.
We enter this picture looking round for the accessible table. The cashier pointed to the side of the restaurant where the table was. We both, Joe and I, see it immediately. At this point we didn't know there was just one space in the whole place. So we looked. He looked at us looking. He continued to sit there sipping on a coffee. Joe had a tray with food, I was beside him and we were looking.
I don't like asking people to move.
Joe hates asking people to move.
But, I wanted dinner.
So I approached the guy, who looked at me with a level gaze. I said, 'I'm really sorry to ask, but as this is the only table I can get at, I wonder if you'd mind moving.'
I got a reaction I didn't expect. He smiled, broadly, and said, without a hint of sarcasm, 'Absolutley, no problem.' He got his coffee and got up and moved a table back.
I rolled into place.
Joe sat across from me.
We ate in silence.
I fumed. And fumed. And fumed some more.
Why the hell did he wait for me to ask him? Why did I have to go through the inner turmoil that comes with asking things of others, the sense of belittlement that comes with needing a favour from another person?
I think I know.
But I want to hear your ideas first.
Why didn't he just get up and let us have the table? Why do you think he waited for, even wanted, me to ask?
Over to you ...