Imagine, if you will, a typical night at the theatre. On the job, I stand at the back of the house, as is my usual position, keeping watch over the flock of theatre-goers who are watching an Off-Broadway musical. All is well.
A gentleman in the front of the house gets up and leaves through the side aisle. No problem. I radio to my co-worker downstairs, informing her that someone has left the house. She confirms and several minutes pass. She radios that the gentleman used the restroom and is now on his way back up to me in the elevator. (Due to the odd configuration of the house, everyone who arrives late or leaves their seat and comes back in has to go through the back of the house – it’s too distracting otherwise.)
I greet the gentleman as he exits the elevator. He is in his mid-thirties, nicely dressed in a linen shirt and trendy jeans. He has dark curly hair and is not Caucasian. I inform him he will not be able to return to his actual seat, he says that’s ok, and I put him in a seat in the second-to-last row.
The performance continues.
About fifteen minutes later, a woman gets up from the front of the house and stands in the side aisle. She must have to use the restroom, I think to myself, but wants to wait for the current song to end. Unfortunately, we can’t have anyone standing there – fire hazard. I radio down to my co-worker and inform her of the problem. She confirms and retrieves the woman from the side aisle, taking her downstairs and out of sight.
Shortly thereafter, she radios up to say that the woman is coming back up in the elevator to me. She was apparently concerned when the previous gentleman left his bag. Ahh, I think. She was with him and brought his bag. (Not uncommon when a member of a couple leaves to use the restroom and magically never returns to their actual seat – the other party comes looking for them.)
When she gets off the elevator, I see she is much older than the gentleman. White-haired, Caucasian, obviously wealthy. I doubt they are a couple. She also has no bag with her. Curious, I think. I give my speech about how she, unfortunately, won’t be able to return to her actual seat. She says that’s fine, as long as she can sit somewhere in the back.
Of course, I say. I direct her to the row in which I had placed the gentleman, still thinking they must still be of the same party. She balks. Her eyes go wide and she shakes her head vehemently left and right. I remind her in whisper that I cannot get her to her actual seat.
“I’m not sitting next to him,” she hisses.
Confused, I place her in another row and the show concludes. They were not together.
I found out later the rest of the story to which I was not privy: The woman left her seat because the “Middle-Eastern-looking man” left his bag in his seat and then disappeared. When my co-worker downstairs assured her that nothing was amiss, she did not believe her and said that we (the theater) should “do something, like call the police.”
When my co-worker asked if the woman would like to leave, the woman replied, “No I want to see the show I paid for.”
So the compromise was her sitting far enough away that if it was a bomb, the shrapnel would have definitely cut her up a bit.
The icing on the cake with all of this is that apparently she left her husband right next to the bag. He was apparently not convinced anything was wrong and didn’t want to cause a fuss or give up his good seats.
Needless to say, nothing happened with the bag and all three hundred people safely left the house at the end of the performance.
Oh, the people you meet in the theatre…