last night was our evening session of stake conference. elder m. russell ballard of the twelve was coming, so mark and i arrive about 40 minutes early, hoping to get a good seat and not a folding chair. we walked into the chapel and were happy to see a plethora of open seating.
or so it seemed. walking up to the rows, it became evident that all of these empty pews were reserved. not through official signage, but through customary mormon means: jackets, church binders, scriptures. i'm all about saving a seat or two or three for your friends if you get there early, but to see most of a chapel blocked out only through evidences that you were once there, that's on the lower end of mormon culture for me. we could have pushed some things aside and sat down and, likely, no one would have stopped us. still, society runs not just on rule of law, but acceptance of customs as well.
disheartened but not defeated, we walked to the front and looked around. there had to be some part of a row that could share with us. about a third the way back we noticed a row of reservations that terminated in a scripture case about three to four feet from the end of the seat.
what is the range of a set of scriptures?, we wondered. a one foot radius? two? do they reach all the way to the end, or did they have space for an outsider on the end? if they could fit one of us, they could fit two, right?
we decided to risk it. for two guys being the only people in the row we were sitting rather close together, and i was just barely touching the scriptures (so i scooted them down a touch, hoping that they didn't belong to someone practicing in the choir, watching me this whole time).
it seemed that most of these row items belonged to bishopric members and their families. i suspect the people whose row we had joined were slightly miffed with us, as we were all sitting a little closer together than we normally would, but they courteously handed me a hymnbook, so they were trying.
who knows, maybe they didn't mind at all?