Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Queues and pews

There's an Ottawa mentality about queuing and seating. Oh, I'm sure similar attitudes exist elsewhere, but here in Hades, it's just so damn noticeable.

Recently, the Resident Fan Boy, younger daughter, and I went to the first screening of the day at the Bytowne Cinema. We, and some others, were standing around in a scattered sort of semi-circle, waiting for the box office to open in about five minutes. An older lady asked me, "Is this the line?"
"No," I replied.
"Well," she said. "Maybe it's time to start one." And she actually reached out to nudge me into place.

I looked around in disbelief. I could see the staff dismantling the locks and setting out the signs. There were no more than ten people standing outside. Ignoring her, I moved toward the opening door, following those who had arrived before us and who weren't in line either.

The Resident Fan Boy and younger daughter went in to get our preferred seats, the ones on the left side of the left aisle. We've discovered from years of attending films at the Bytowne that our view is unimpeded, few people sit there, and it unlikely anyone will clamber over you to sit by the wall. They saved me a seat directly in front, while I fetched the popcorn.

Unfortunately, they'd chosen seats two rows behind Line-up Lady. This would normally be no problem because of the way the seats are staggered, I'd have a clear view over her right shoulder. After a few minutes, the film not having started, she got up, paused meaningfully by my seat and informed me that she was moving because the smell of popcorn made her ill. I cheerfully made sympathetic noises, because I find, on the whole, refusing to take the bait from someone who's annoyed with you for the egregious sin of eating popcorn in a cinema - just for an example - is far more satisfying in the long run.

So, a few days later, we arrived in good time for a performance by the guitar virtuosi Assad Brothers at Dominion-Chalmers United Church. The Resident Fan Boy, a veteran of many years of Chamberfest seating wars, hurried to the balcony where our season tickets are, and sat to the far left of our pew. The tickets give you the section, pew number, but no seat assignment, simply ending with the word "Pew", so, if you're early enough, you can stake out the part of the pew closest to the central view of the stage. The view is perfectly reasonable from other parts of the pew, but, hey, there has to be some perk for showing up early.

I put my coat on my spot and dashed off to the washroom, because the line-up at Intermission is a nightmare, especially with a sold-out audience. When I returned, I found another older lady standing by my coat and looking pointedly at it. Under her watchful gaze, I carefully rolled up my coat, stowed it under the pew, and took my place next to my husband, feeling somehow that I had broken some secret rule. She remained standing, as a couple established themselves at the other end of the pew. Eventually, a gentleman greeted her and they sat down.

Meanwhile, in front of us, another mini-drama was unfolding. A lady was trying to explain to the couple in front of us that she had reserved seating on the prized left end of the pew, that is, dead-centre in the front row of the balcony.

She was holding up a fairly sizeable plastic laminated square, which read: "Reserved". Apparently, the female half of the couple had been sitting on it. I watched as the reservation lady calmly and patiently explained the situation, apparently to no avail. The other lady was making sweeping gestures towards other parts of the balcony. Eventually, one of the volunteers joined the conversation, and the couple made room. Elder daughter explained to me later that the reservation lady is a major patron of Chamberfest; in fact, it is safe to say the concert was taking place thanks to her support. She has to claim and explain her reservation every damn time.

The concert eventually started after a bus-load of Montreal music students rumbled into the upper balcony pews about fifteen minutes after the show was due to start. The brothers rippled and nodded. I've never heard nor sensed such an intent audience.

This was my favourite, particularly the "Musette Rondeau", which is about at the 3:50 mark in this video.

From our pew, their bent legs made them look a bit like Muppets.