A friend with a migraine is sleeping it off in my Santa Barbara hotel room, so I went down to a Starbucks at the corner of State and Cota to do some filing. I saw an empty table with a cup of latte-or-whatever sitting on top of it, but no one in either chair. I figured the person who’d ordered was in the bathroom. The general rule, of course, is that single customers can save a chair but not a whole table, which are frequently shared. So I sat down in one of the chairs and plugged in the computer, etc.
Knock-knock. Some tall guy outside who was talking on his cell phone was tapping on the window next to the table and gesturing at the coffee cup. I grinned and gestured as if to say, “Yes, that’s your coffee and your chair, but you don’t own the table, pal….sorry.” He rapped on the window again, more sharply this time, emphasizing that the coffee cup meant that he has hunkies and does in fact own the table, including both chairs. My inner response was one of ridicule and disdain, but I shrugged and half-smiled as if to say, “Gee, I don’t think so, but you’re definitely assured of a seat when you’ve finished arguing with your girlfriend or whatever and you come back inside.”
The guy (heavyish, bison-like, mid 40s, big feet, shorts) frowned and pivoted and rounded the corner and came over to the table. I went to myself, “Okay, here we go…confrontation time.” But he just grabbed the coffee and gave me a dirty look and went back outside. Compare this asshole to a typical Cairo demonstrator, desperate to effect change and running down tear-gassed streets and dodging bullets, etc.