Seat’s Taken

I’m noticing a trend when I’m out at public places in China. About half the time when I go to sit down, a person nearby me will tell me another person has that seat. There are no things nearby that could be somebody else’s, and sometimes it’s obvious not enough people are left in the cafe to even claim the spot. Today in Starbucks, a well dressed man in his mid 30s told me I couldn’t sit in the seat across from him, and said it was his friend’s. I had some time to kill, so I waited around for a seat to open up. After 10 minutes I decided I would sit down regardless of the guy. He repeated himself and I asked him who. He responded with the standard ‘go away foreigner’ response of “I don’t understand what I hear.” I’m writing this sitting in that seat, 30 minutes later. He has his headphones in and has photographed me on his phone twice. He refuses to make eye contact, though he’ll shoot me an unreadable glance every now and then. I find humor in the irony that a guy drinking coffee from my country can’t sit next to me. As petty as it is, it’s a usual thing here

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