Every morning it’s the same thing. The crusty old man with the mackinaw hat waddles into the cafe and plunks his fat ass down on the nearest seat. He usually lets out a grunt or a tired moan at the same time. This isn’t extraordinary by any stretch. People waddle into cafes and sit down all the time. What makes Seat Man different is his vehement way of locating and plopping into a seat. The guy is downright aggressive. Not DeNiro aggressive. More like Pesci aggressive. I’ve watched him plunk down at a table that is built for four but was seating only three. He’s some piece of work.
Today, the cafe is full. Not a seat to be had. I’m chowing on my bagel at the counter, waiting for Seat Man to arrive, just to see what he’ll do. Right on time, he waltzes in and scopes the place out. He gets his java and stands there surveying. At this moment I am convinced that everyone else in this place has been watching this guy throw his weight around and a secret meeting was held wherein everyone agreed to block Seat Guy from sitting his globular ass down – just for a day. He’s looking a tad frustrated.
He eyes every patron, looking for signs of leaving. Nobody budges. Usually, when a “normal” person sees that there are no seats to be had in a cafe, he or she will just leave. Well, Seat Man is not exactly normal. Seat Man pulls a little move that, in my books, is about a 10 on the rudeness scale. He stands beside a table and waits for the people sitting there to finish. He doesn’t say anything. He acts all nonchalant. He just stands there, leaning against a railing, giving off that jackass aura. The people at the table ask him if he’s OK. He says he’s just waiting.
“Waiting for what?”
“For your table.”
The people at the table give him looks that are somewhere between anger and bewilderment. They finish their coffees quickly and get up to leave. Seat Man lunges into the newly vacant seats with a passion. He sits there for a few seconds and then suddenly leaps up with a hint of a yelp. He’s craning around trying to look at his ass. It seems that the patient patrons left him a little surprise – some coffee surreptitiously spilled on the seat. He mumbles for a bit and then sits down on another chair, his smug, damp, double-double’d ass busting it out. I let out an audible “ha!” in between gulps of coffee.
Seat Man continues his breakfast, and I drink my coffee comfortably knowing that some good ‘ol fashioned coffee shop justice has been served.
StreetRag ::: An Urban Notebook
StreetRag is an urban weblog and podcast about the city of Edmonton, which is located in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is authored by Edmonton-based writer, web advocate, and poet Michael Gravel and is updated frequently with written urban vignettes, amateurish photographs, deuteronomous audio material, barely coherent musings and rambling ecumenical treatises. StreetRag is a love letter to a lonely prairie burg struggling with its big city ambitions and small-town feel.
The city is Edmonton. It's a subject, not a passion. E-Town is almost universally derided by outsiders as an unlivable tundra wasteland populated by oil-hungry redneck conservatives who despise the arts. All of that is true. But it's not the whole story. There is beauty here. Dusty snowfalls. Brilliant summers. A stunning river valley. A diverse arts community that flourishes. It's a place that inspires a gray relationship - not all good, not all shitty. For that reason alone it is lovable, for what is life but a grayscale?