10 Dec

If Someone Asked You To Move, Would You?


The cause of the controversy

I have had a series of weird things happen to me in public this fall–I wrote about the guy touching KB in Penn Station & the lady telling her to scream in Target. And now another one happened to me at the movie theater on Friday night when I was on a date night with my husband to watch Catching Fire.

Here’s what happened. We got into the theater about 20 minutes before the movie started. It’s a Friday night, and so even though the movie has been out for 3 weeks, you can expect there will be several people coming to see it. There were already maybe 6 or so people in the theater, which has stadium seating. Four people were staked out in the exact middle of the theater, and this is where my husband likes to sit. Actually he wants to sit in the first row of the second section of stadium seating, but those little lights on the floor really distract me and sometimes give me a headache during a movie, so I can’t sit there. Our compromise, if we are there early enough, is to sit in the third row in the second section in the center. (I know you are probably thinking–these people are so anal–but it did cost $21.50 for the both of us to see this movie, so. . .)

This happens to be right in front of the 4 people (50-something) already sitting down. When we go to sit down in our favorite spot, one of the women says to me, like she can’t believe she even has to say it, “Do you have to sit right in front of us?”

And I said, “What?”

She said, “Do you have to sit right in front of us?”
Now many things are going through my mind, and I can imagine even worse things are going through my husband’s mind, but I say, “No, I guess not, but you are sitting in the exact middle of the theater, and this is stadium seating. We will not block your view.”

As I am saying this, I move our coats over, off-center, and we leave to go get our popcorn. She laughs and says, “Thanks,” and I hear her husband mumbling something about “stadium seating.”

Now we are in the hall, and my husband is not happy. He can’t believe she has said this, and I say, “I can kind of see her point, but we aren’t going to be the only people in the theater. It will fill up somewhat. Let’s not make a big issue.”

The longer he thinks about it, the madder he gets. And I say, which didn’t help, “This lady is unbelievable. If you don’t want anyone to sit in front of you, you should not sit in the exact center of the theater.”

SO, what did we do?

When we came back with our refreshments, my husband said, “Let me go first.” And I thought, Oh boy, here we go. He did not sit right in front of her, but sat in front of the last person in their party, and I was on the side of him. The funny thing is people were ALL AROUND THEM–there was another couple a few seats over from us in the same row and someone sitting just a seat over from them in their row, behind us.

I’m sure there are all different opinions in this matter, but what do you think? Would you have moved? Said anything? Do what Rick did? Have you ever asked anyone to move in a theater?


  • I try not to sit in front of anyone if the theater is not filling up. Of course, my FAVORITE place to sit is back row on the end by the aisle. :) My husband would have reacted like the woman but instead of saying anything to you, we would have moved.

    • Julie: we are all so different aren’t we? If it wasn’t stadium seating, I would never dream of sitting in front of someone. But if I was really particular about where I was sitting, I would not choose the best seats in the house and expect someone not to sit near me, especially on a Friday night at Ronnie’s with a popular movie.

  • Honestly, I totally agree with your husband, and in a better world than we seem to have right now I would have just looked the woman in the eye and said, “Yes, I do have to sit in front of you because you chose those seats and are too thickheaded to move yourself.” However, these days I run on the preservation code that states, “Never sit with your back to crazies.” So I would have moved, to a seat behind her row.

    • I was trying to be nice. :) I thought about sitting behind them, too, and we did discuss this, but I was just trying not to make a big scene. By the way, the entire movie, I forgot to mention this, the lady had her feet on the back of the seat in front of her. SO, maybe that’s why she wanted me to move–to avoid kicking me in the head. How thoughtful of her. :)

  • You are encountering some gutsy people these days, Sandwich Lady. I’m glad you spoke up. Sometimes I feel like people think that if you’re nice they can just walk all over you. That’s when I get my “pack leader” energy on. LOL. (I don’t know if you watch Dog Whisperer with Cesar Milan). Anyway, people are kind of rude now, too, it’s like they have no patience for being around others. What is up with that?

  • I would avoided sitting there, but due to their comments, I would sit directly behind them. In general I would probably move to avoid confrontation to be honest.

  • We recently had someone ask us to move closer to the front if a presentation so they could sit near the back. I was about to move, but my friend responded, “No, we got here early so that we could sit where we wanted.” But I think it was rude of that woman in the theatre to say anything to you. She bought one seat, not the ones in front of her.

  • Oh. My. Word. How is it that people have become so rude?

    Like you, I would’ve responded politely and felt like maybe we should move. But I would not have moved because my husband is…oh, how to put this? Direct spoken, maybe? :-) I’m pretty sure he would’ve had some choice words for the woman–somewhere along the lines of “I paid for a seat, and that means I can sit in any unoccupied seat in this theater.” And then he would’ve sat DIRECTLY in front of her.

    He’s not an overtly confrontational guy, but if someone’s rude to him FIRST, he’ll speak his mind. And though it makes me squirm sometimes, he forgets about the encounter and goes his merry way. Whereas I–if I feel like someone’s been really rude and I DON’T say anything, obsess about what I WOULD have said…if I had the guts to say it! :-)

  • First of all, I don’t think you are anal for your preferred seat choice. If those seats are available, you like to sit in them. Often, we don’t get to choose our preferred seats so it’s something that can be nice we have the chance to choose. It seems like most of the time people have reasons for the things they do, whether or not those reasons are easy to determine. In this case, seems like the reason was indicated. She obviously likes to put her feet on the seat in front of her. Of course, she only paid for her seat and not the seat in front of her and you have the right to your choice of available seating. So I think I would say she erred in the blunt/rude tone of her request. Had she said something like “Excuse me, could you do me a favor and possibly move down a seat or two? I like being able to put my feet on the chair in front of me and I would really appreciate being able to do that”. And it should have been said in a sweet and sincere tone of voice. I think that would have been a better way for her to approach you. Not saying it would have made everything “okay” but it would have been way better. I imagine her story would have an air of “can you believe these people chose the seats right in front of us rather than respect the implied societal norms of personal space and buffer zones between strangers when it’s possible to observe such norms”. Probably a little more than my 2 cents…but there you have it. :-)

  • Wow! I think my response would have been something along the lines of : “Well, I thought it would be rude to sit in your lap, but if you would prefer that, I suppose I could move.”

  • I would NOT have moved, Margo! People are so rude. I had a “lady” say something rude to me at the Fox once, and I offered to trade seats with her and her friends – for MY benefit, not hers. I was on the inside and didn’t want three women getting up to eat, pee and pick their noses every 5 minutes. I’m with Rick.

  • Actually, I was on the Outside first and moved to the inside. Brain dead today. Sorry.

  • Thank you, everyone, for all the thoughts and opinions. Usually, I would have thought it weird to sit right in front of someone, too, and it did cross my mind, but then I thought–this theater is going to fill up somewhat and it’s stadium seating. Plus, I’m with my hubby who really insists on sitting in the middle of anywhere you go if possible. We really, really did consider moving behind them, but I did not want to be looking at them the whole movie because I was afraid that would make me mad and think about them instead of the movie. When I was talking about this to my husband today again for the hundredth time, he said he was thinking about them all during the movie anyway, whereas I had forgotten about them until I looked over at the end and saw their feet. :) ALso like I’ve told him, I’ve had people sit right next to me at a movie before and thought it a little strange, but I never said anything because it is not my right at a public movie theater to tell someone to move. And I agree with Steve, if she would have been a little nicer about it, I might have responded differently. I was also thinking the exact same thing Steve was that she is probably saying to her kids/friends and family, can you believe this couple sat right in front of me? Hey, maybe she’s a blogger.. . LOL

  • I would have continued to sit in the seat or suggest she move to the front row. I took my 2 young children to the show and always took their booster chairs. We settled in and then went and got popcorn and drinks. I came back and a lady moved one of the boosters and was sitting in the seat. I politely told her, she was in our seat and the show was filled and I wasn’t splitting up a 3 &5 year old! I then told her she was being rude! She moved!

    • I cannot believe she moved your booster seat. Actually, the more stories I hear, I can believe it. Doesn’t she know that with kids you have to unload all your gear and then go get the popcorn???

  • […] stayed at home and writhed in bed with the flu; and going to the movies on New Year’s Day (where we did not sit in front of anyone) to see Frozen, which was awesome! But as a writer or anyone with a home business knows, you get […]

So, what do you think?