The man who said “no”


On Christmas day, Hayley and I went to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. As it was opening day, the theater was very crowded. Hayley and I got to the theater about 45 minutes early, as we knew this would be the case. We weren’t alone. There was already a line to get into the theater when we got there.

Unfortunately, not everyone was as conscious of how popular this movie would be, and arrived about 10 minutes before the movie was scheduled to start. By that time, there were very few available seats in large groups. Most were single seats. In an effort to be a “hero” some guy on our row asked Hayley and me to move down a seat, just in case there was a couple that came in. We were bugged, but we moved. Because we’re good people and all.

Then, the unbelievable happened. A woman needed a group of like four seats and asked a man on the row in front of us if he could please scoot down. He said, “No.”

I’ve seen a lot of movies in my day and I’ve been asked to move to numerous times. But I’ve never had the gumption to actually say no, no matter how annoyed I was.

This selfish act hasn’t inspired, nor will it direct, my future decisions to not move, but I will always remember this nameless man and the stand he took against the folks who are more selfish, who think they can get to the movie five minutes early and still sit together.

As for Benjamin Button, it was fine, but not as memorable as the stand that man took.

What acts of selfish courage have you witnessed recently?

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  1. Brad
    January 22, 2009 at 7:49 am — Reply

    Why don’t movie theatres use assigned seating when they issue tickets? Every other type of event venue does unless the event is a standing open area concert or something. Just go with best available seats are sold first system. It wouldn’t be that hard. I went to a movie in Germany a little over 10 years ago, and they used assigned seating. Now I’m not one of these guys that wants us to be like Europe, but they got this one right.

  2. January 22, 2009 at 9:49 am — Reply

    This is an interesting post, Todd. I’m always torn about how to feel when someone shows up late and then rearranges everyone to accommodate them. I always move, but never want to.

    Kind of a sad statement for the movie, though, that this pre-movie incident is what stuck with you.

  3. January 22, 2009 at 10:16 am — Reply

    Amen, Brad! Aside from the alcohol, spacious seats and premium view of a gigantic screen, the assigned seats are my favorite aspect of the balcony seating at the Warren.

    And Becky, I’m not torn – I’m ticked! It’s rude. But it’s also rude not to move. I’m just not sure which is the greater transgression.

  4. January 22, 2009 at 10:40 am — Reply

    A long time ago Hayley and I went to a movie where we were just about the only patrons. Then a man and his wife came in and sat down RIGHT NEXT TO HAYLEY. When they had a whole theater of seats to choose from. So Hayley and I moved down a seat. It seemed kind of rude, but better for her to have an armrest to herself. Then they moved down again! He was really nice in his strangeness and said “Thanks! We didn’t want to ask you to move down again.” I’m not sure why Hayley doesn’t remember this, but oh my it was funny.

  5. Carl Cravens
    January 22, 2009 at 1:24 pm — Reply

    Maybe I’m old (40), but I think people shouldn’t even have to be asked to make room… they should do so when they see the need. And I think it’s extremely rude to refuse to move to make room for others just because you got there first.

    You don’t know why the group arrived late. They may have had no idea of the crowd, they may have been running late, traffic may have been unexpectedly bad.

    And they’re your neighbor. To say, “Suck it up, I planned ahead and you didn’t, so you can just live with it” isn’t loving them, is it?

    Sure, there are a lot of people in our society who feel entitled, and will take every opportunity to impose on others. They annoy the heck out of me. We’re becoming a society of selfish gits who only care about what benefits us. We can’t learn to be a generous society by worrying about how others don’t deserve our generosity.

    (Brad, the Wichita Symphony isn’t using assigned seating for their Blue Jeans Concert this year. That kind of surprised me. But I wouldn’t want assigned seating for a movie theater. I’m picky about where I sit, and I have to sit so that I don’t turn my head at all, otherwise I experience neck pain and a tension headache.)

  6. […] January 23, 2009 · No Comments You are at a theater that is packed. A group shows up late and then asks the man in front of you to move over so they can sit together. What would you do? Todd knows what one man did. […]

  7. January 23, 2009 at 11:08 am — Reply

    Excellent post. Two rude people in conflict … always a moment guaranteed to make sure you don’t enjoy the movie you paid to see.

    The guy who wouldn’t move is a selfish jerk, but the person who expected him to is equally so. In this instance, I’d have to side with the first jerk. People who show up late must take what’s available.

    Agree with the earlier comment: in a perfect world, people would make room for others without being asked.

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The man who said “no”