The Wrong Seat

As a student teacher, I remember the advice that we were told always to follow when on school placements. Before taking a seat in the staff room, make sure that it’s not the one that Mr Bloggs always sits in – you won’t be forgiven!


Visiting a cathedral one afternoon recently I decided to stay for Evensong, at which a visiting choir would be singing. I found a quiet corner and waited for the service to begin. Shortly afterwards an elderly couple sat down next to me. The woman smiled, and asked if I was with the choir. I explained that I was just a visitor. Still smiling, she welcomed me – and happened to mention that she usually sat where I was sitting!


But there’s no reason why you shouldn’t sit there, she reassured me. I resisted the temptation to reply that in my own church I always sit in the same seat too, but that nobody else wants it because it goes with the job…


But by now she had turned her attention to a group of tourists who had sat down in front of us and were busily taking selfies. She spent the rest of the service leaning across, smiling and making sure that they had their prayer books open at the correct pages.


The service ended with a procession during the final hymn. She wouldn’t be taking part, she had told me – her legs wouldn’t let her. The hymn began, we smiled our goodbyes, and together with the tourists we sang our way to a chapel for the Blessing (and more selfies).


What’s the moral of this story? If someone sits in your seat, try smiling and making them welcome. If you have ever mistakenly sat in someone else’s, I know how you felt...