Taking seat saving to an art form. – By Jessie Costin
If you’ve ever been to a church-related event, like a conference or youth rally, you may have noticed a battleground that has nothing to do with the spiritual realm.
It’s seat saving. This happens in church as well, but it is at Christian events that the battle reaches fever pitch. Christians have seat saving down to a fine art. In no other community of people could such a ferocious rush to save seats be followed by such a polite respect. “Oh, your shoelace is on the seat? Excuse me, I’ll go elsewhere.”
Christians like to travel in packs, but they are also notorious for running late. As a result, we developed systems and practices that enable us to all arrive 5 minutes after the start of the event and still be able to sit together as close to the front as possible. This creates the phenomenon where the whole auditorium appears empty, when actually the only seat available is way in the back, behind a pillar where you can’t actually see anything.
To be successful, if you dare to try it, here are a few rules of engagement you should know when it comes to seat saving:
1. Choose Your Hero
The choice of designated seat saver, or DSS, is critical.
• They should be dependable: You need to be able to rely on this person to show up early for the event.
• They should be an Olympic sprinter: You need them to get to the best seats faster than anyone else.
• They should be small: You need them to be able to slip through the crowds easily and fit down the narrow rows faster than anyone else.
• They should be tough and merciless: You can’t have someone who is going to crumble under the pressure or balk at pushing in front of little old ladies.
2. Know Your Arsenal
As long as you get something on that seat before someone else does, it’s yours. Your arsenal includes any removable piece of clothing. Scarves are particularly useful, and the longer the better. If you stretch it out, you can pretty much save the whole row in one go. Water bottles, jackets, handbags, bulletins. Anything is acceptable.
And the big guns in your arsenal? It’s not actually Bibles, as you may suspect. The untouchable seat saving weapon? Journals. No one will dare touch someone else’s journal. It doesn’t matter if it’s actually full of nonsense doodles you’ve done during a long church service; to others, it will have the same effect as if Jesus himself saved that seat.
Getting the lay of the land beforehand is important, so that your DSS can make straight for the best seats without hesitation. If you’ve never been to the venue before, and it’s in a church, consider sending your DSS on an undercover mission one Sunday prior to the event.
• Develop your moves:
The “Come From Behind” move should be in every Seat Saver’s playbook. This is effective when everyone is in a bottleneck trying to get into a row of good seats. Your maneuver should be to slip into the rows behind, and throw down your weapons (aka scarves and journals) over the backs of the seats. Everyone will sigh and grumble, and you won’t be the favorite person in the room, but they will cooperatively back out of the row.
• Just go for it:
All bets are off until the seats are saved. Don’t be shy, and don’t hesitate. It may be an angry, ugly scene during the early stages of the seat saving battle. But, once your stuff is on the seat, everyone will politely recognize your claim without protest. (And anyone who does protest is shunned into silence.)
Everyone knows, once there’s something on the seat, it’s taken. No matter what. (Except when it’s 10 minutes into the event and the person with the microphone on the platform says “Move to the middle of the rows so we can fill in the empty seats.” At that stage, if your people aren’t in, the battle is lost. The person with the microphone must be obeyed.)
Do you have any other tactics or hints of your own?
(For more great stuff from Jessie, check out her blog, www.jessiecostin.com)