Seat one is empty. Seat two houses a late-thirties male, sitting back, absorbed in his phone while waiting for the next available barber. Seats three and four are also available.
Seating etiquette, as with urinal etiquette, marks seats one and three as last resort selections (impending tsunami, atomic holocaust, that sort of situation). The correct choice is seat four, leaving one seat between myself and the other punter.
To my horror, I notice that seat four blocks access to the already laden coat rack. No good can come from having to move each time someone hangs or retrieves a coat, and so I am forced to make an incursion into personal space.
Seat three it is then.
Man of Seat Two is not happy. In fact, he’s fuming, seething at the audacity of this new arrival selecting the seat right next to him.
Operation of his phone – the screen of which displays nothing despite its apparent fascination – requires much more elbow space than the rest of us. His elbows are quite pointy.
He leans forward with an expelling of breath that is verging on a murderous huff, knocking his elbows firmly against mine as he does so. His phone screen remains blank, even when it rings and he jabs at it to cancel the incoming call.
I was about to ask if he needed more space when his barber became free. He stood, added his coat to the rack above seat four – there you go, see? – and settled into his coiffure-adjustment throne.
Will you shut up
He just won’t shut up. Even his hairdresser can hardly get a word in. I can hear his voice, but thanks to a recovering ear infection on that side, I am unable to hear what he is saying.
I can see in my mirror as he pays for whatever he had done – it seems no different to my untrained eye. But he still hasn’t shut up. He’s showing his hairdresser something on his phone – presumably no longer a blank screen – and making encouraging gestures towards her. The hairdresser just wants to get on with the four others now waiting patiently in the four seats, eyes aimed upon their own phones, elbows fully retracted.