A little before Christmas I attended an evening of music put on by the New Jersey Choral Society. I enjoy these events for several reasons:
- I’m a music lover and they really are excellent.
- Because I used to sing with them and always see old friends.
- Because it scores huge brownie points with my wife, who still sings with them.
Since the concert was a sell out arriving early was strongly suggested. Instead a combination of returning visiting children and feeding my offspring ensured I not only arrived late, but after the concert had started. Fully expecting to find myself in a seat with a great view of a supporting column I was instead ushered to a seat in the last row, right next to the middle aisle, affording it both an unobstructed view and plenty of room.
How could this prime seat still be empty in such a packed house? I could see it surrounded by a golden halo and with angels singing. Or perhaps that was just NJCS in their glory. I smugly took my seat and settled in for another glorious concert.
In hindsight little alarm bells should have gone off. I’ve ridden enough New York subways to know that an empty seat on a packed train usually means a urine soiled hobo as a neighbor.
The first number was a beautiful pianissimo piece and I let the warm, soft music wash over me…right up to the point where I heard “MOMMY!” I looked to my right to see a toddler loudly talking with the obliviousness of surroundings that only exists in the very young and the very old.
As a father of 3 I wasn’t too concerned. His parents would no doubt quiet him down or remove him from earshot if that proved too difficult (I know I would have).
Sadly that was not the case this time as the boy continued to chatter with little more than the occasional “Shhh” from the parents and more than a few disapproving looks from the paying members of the audience. Then a new sound was added to the mix, the insistent cry of a hungry baby followed after a brief pause by a loud thumping as the father attempted to burp the child. Now if only the thumping had been in time with the music…
Near the end of the concert the baby started to cry again and, as the father reached for another bottle, he accidentally hit his phone which immediately shouted “SAY A COMMAND!!” at full volume. That was the last straw for one audience member who turned around and expressed his disapproval with some choice words, finally causing the father gather his belongings and head out. Sadly the concert ended a few minutes later.
For most of the people in that part of the church the concert had been significantly marred. But there’s a lesson for all of us here – Beware the Empty Seat!
The “empty seat” could be on the subway, in a concert, a can’t lose business opportunity, an open job or a date who seems to have it all. Somewhere along the way someone else has decided that it was too much trouble and passed by. So before jumping into something that seems too good to be true it’s worth taking a moment to look around to see what dangers are lurking. Maybe these are things you can live with, in which case go for it. Just don’t do it blindly.
As the saying goes – if something looks too good to be true, it usually is.
Happy New Year!