Convention Season-"Saving Good Seats" & Other Embarrassing Behavior

by Darth Fader The Sequel 50 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • sparrowdown

    How long before they start issueing tickets with assigned seat numbers to avoid all this embarrassing,

    tell-tale evidence that JWs are NOT the "most loving people in the world?"

  • TableForOne

    respectful_observer: I would love to see the glares I would get if I decided to record this event on my phone/iPad.

    If you can do it... DO IT.

    They'll be so pre-occupied with sprinting for the best seats that they won't even notice you.

    We need someone, ANYONE, to film this Christlike behaviour.

    I used to turn up about 15/20 mins before it started. I never saw the need to turn up any earlier.

    This is my first year since 1992 that I'll absent from the conventions.

    Free at last.

    Happy at last.


  • Calebs Airplane
    Calebs Airplane

    Jehovah, please forgive me for the pain I'm about to inflict on my dear brother for trying to steal my seat...

  • blondie

    I can remember when the WTS instructed attendants to gather up belongings on chairs five minutes into the after seat, rows...not just one seat among others with people sitting in them.

    In the days when people worked during the session in food, etc., family members could claim that the person for the empty chair was working in the back...I saw jws try that line to save 4 seats, even 10.

    The attendants would take things to the lost and found and instructed people that would be where they could go get them.

    *** km 5/84 p. 5 1984 “Kingdom Increase” District Convention ***

    When the attendants are instructed to remove personal belongings from unoccupied seats, is your reaction one of irritation or anger? How we react to such situations may indicate to what extent our Christian personality has been developed. Remember that many attending the conventions are not Jehovah’s Witnesses. There is compelling reason, then, to ‘maintain our conduct fine among the nations’ to prevent others from being stumbled.—1 Pet. 2:12; Matt. 18:6.

    *** km 5/80 p. 4 1980 “Divine Love” District Conventions ***

    We may ask ourselves: Do I always seek out the preferred sections in which to sit, or if my health and circumstances permit, do I sometimes choose to sit in upper sections or those more difficult to get to so that older or newer ones are not inconvenienced? Do I spread out my belongings on adjoining seats causing others to think that they are occupied? Would it not be considerate to remove my articles from seats not actually being occupied at least 10 or 15 minutes before the session begins, so that others are not inconvenienced by having to unnecessarily search for seats or place attendants in the awkward position of having to remove the articles themselves? Do I keep my family together or know where they will be sitting so that family members are not reserving seats for each other needlessly? Do I yield graciously to the direction of attendants in this matter of seating? Is the same diligence exercised in saving a seat displayed in my effort to occupy that seat from the beginning of the program to its conclusion? Am I ‘inciting to love and fine works’ in this matter of seating?

    *** km 5/92 p. 5 par. 16 1992 “Light Bearers” District Convention ***

    Your cooperation is requested in the matter of saving seats. Please keep in mind that SEATS MAY BE SAVED ONLY FOR YOUR IMMEDIATE FAMILY MEMBERS AND ANY WHO MAY BE TRAVELING WITH YOU IN YOUR CAR. Special sections for elderly and disabled ones will be available at all conventions. We ask that everyone please observe the signs carefully and follow the directions of the attendants. Some older brothers have had to look for seats in less accessible areas because younger ones filled the seats in the section for the elderly. Please be considerate of the elderly. We regret that it is not possible to accommodate requests for separate areas or rooms for those with problems such as allergies.

    *** km 5/77 pp. 3-4 “Joyful Workers” District Assembly ***

    One such situation that requires consideration for others is that of saving seats. Even though reminders have been given in the past, many have found magazines or other items placed on every available seat in the building, although there were far more seats than the number of persons in attendance. This may be due to some using seats for storage purposes, but would it not be much more loving to keep our things under our own seat, on our lap or in the checkroom? In this way brothers will be able to find seats without having to disturb those already seated.

    In many places it has been observed that large numbers of seats have been saved and were never occupied during entire sessions, forcing people to stand. How would we feel if this happened to us? Jesus stated: “All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them.” (Matt. 7:12) In harmony with this principle, our Christian conscience should move us to consider others. If you need to meet with certain ones for various reasons, why not arrange ahead of time to meet them at a certain time and place before or after the sessions, and then you will not have to save seats for one another. Of course, there may be instances in which you need to save a seat or two for good reason. Families may need seats together; volunteer workers may be coming to sit with their families; individuals may leave for a short time to go to the washroom; also, interested persons may be coming to sit with Witnesses who are encouraging them. So, we need to be loving and balanced in our viewpoint of such matters.—Phil. 2:1-4.

    At times it has been noted that numbers of brothers have arranged to rush into convention facilities early in the morning when the doors or gates were opened so they could save whole sections of seats, often the choicest ones, by laying magazines and books on them. Such actions certainly do not reflect well upon our Christian personality, do they? How refreshing it is, instead, to see others freely offering their seats to elderly or infirm persons who need them. This loving concern for others truly honors Jehovah, whose loving example we are trying to follow.—1 John 4:8; 1 Cor. 13:1-5.

    *** km 5/83 p. 4 1983 “Kingdom Unity” District Convention ***

    However, it is evident from reports received from different parts of the country that there is still room for improvement. The problem of seat saving persists. The brother quoted earlier who drove 400 miles to the convention and made many sacrifices also stated: “Yet, I was deeply troubled by the problem of seat saving.” Another brother writing about the same matter mentioned that this has always been a problem, but “this year, I believe, was probably the worst!” Some brothers reported that they arrived early for the convention with their families, only to find that most of the seats were already saved. In many cases one person would arrive when the building opened and save entire rows of seats for his family and friends who would sleep late. Another brother who observed someone saving seats mentioned that the only reason more seats were not saved was because the person ran out of items to place on the chairs. Remember the newspaper writer from Brazil who praised the “love and unity” of Jehovah’s Witnesses? Love has been defined as a perfect expression of unselfishness. Christ Jesus also revealed that unselfish love would be a primary means of identifying his disciples. (John 13:35) Is the saving of large numbers of seats a good example of this godlike love in action? And when you think about it, when a person attends a sports event his admission fee entitles him to occupy just one seat. Since the Society organizes and pays for the convention facilities, do we even have the right to save seats that we will not occupy ourselves? Some of the saved seats were never occupied, and when the attendants attempted to fill them they met with some resistance. We are asking that you please cooperate with the attendants who have been assigned by the convention organization to try to find seats for everyone as well as to maintain an atmosphere conducive to learning. Would we not thus be following the golden rule?—Matt. 7:12.

    *** km 5/73 p. 7 par. 9 “Divine Victory” International Assembly ***

    Any who do accept our invitation to attend the assembly ought to be able to see by our conduct that we truly reflect unselfish love and concern for others. This should be evident in our interest in helping others to get seated, and in our not saving seats needlessly. Of course, there is no objection to saving seats for those who have left temporarily or for volunteer workers who will soon return. But otherwise, would it not be the unselfish thing to leave seats open for anyone to use when we are not sitting on them? And even if a younger person is seated, how fine it is to offer it freely to an elderly or infirm person who may not have found a place to sit and listen. By such loving concern for others we honor our God, Jehovah, who has taught us what love really is.

  • prologos

    The seat saving combat is only the tip of the iceberg of the constant struggle for position that goes on in all of wt land.

    There are a of course a few naive innocent souls, bless them,



  • MissFit

    I would have trouble finding 4 seats together because people would skip a chair instead of sitting next to someone. I would get proactive and check to see if that chair was empty, then ask the person to scoot down unless they minded watching my young child.


  • LisaRose

    Usually I couldn't save seats because I had two children and my husband wasn't a JW, so I had no one to stay with them, and there was no way I was going to drag my kids out of bed early so we could reserve seats, they got tired and cranky enough as it was. I had to take what I could get when I arrived an hour or so before the session. I didn't mind sitting in the nosebleed section, it's not like there was any thing to see anyway, but at the outdoor arenas it was hard to sit in the sun all day, even with an umbrella you would get heat stroke and sunburn. I finally just refused to go to Dodger stadium, instead I would go to Fresno, which was indoors. It was still warm, Fresno in summer is hotter than Hades and air conditioning can only do so much, but it was better than broiling at Dodger. Of course your car would be 120 degrees by the end of the day. Yeah, not good times.

    The one time I had someone with me to stay with the kids and got there early to save seats I was so disgusted at the "running of the bulls" I decided I would never do that again. No matter how many times they said not to do it, people would save lots of seats that were never used and they saved seats for people that were not in their car group, unless their car was a greyhound bus. I also noticed that even when you got there when the doors opened the choice seats were always already taken, so many that it could not possibly be just for volunteers.

  • DisArmed

    Darth, funny post!

    LisaRose: " disgusted at the "running of the bulls" I decided I would never do that again." Good one, Lisa, I haven't thought about this stuff for years. I was always an attendant and witnessed this behavior over and over. Even at the time it turned my stomach. A very small part of the this-can't-be-right attitude I was developing.

  • JustVisting

    Yes, have seen people flinging WTs across stadium seats like a skilled Vegas blackjack dealer, only to have them removed by a self-righteous elder's wife. It's funny how the "choice" aisle seats were usually snatched up by the attentedants themselves and by youthful early-bird single pioneer types who were the first ones to start nodding off during the first long-winded symposium.

  • Juan Viejo2
    Juan Viejo2

    I attended one afternoon session of a district assembly in September 2012 at the State Fairgrounds arena in Salem, Oregon. It was the Saturday evening session the day they released the Sparlock DVD. I only went there to get a couple of copies. My wife still threatens me with castration or worse if I ever decide to go again. Summer Saturday afternoons are for wine coolers on our deck, not going to a JW convention...

    But that aside, I did go that one time. I wore a dressy sport coat and dress slacks, but did not wear a tie nor did I have a badge. I figured the attendants would just consider me "one of the public responding to the invitation that local JWs left at my door without knocking and just sneaking away quietly." But I did get quite a few rather unfriendly stares as I worked my way inside the arena. I found a seat in the upper tier looking straight down at the floor of the arena and the stage. Really, I was very entertained just looking around watching JWs do what they do best.

    Down on the main floor (I could see everyone seated down there) I watched as there was constant traffic. Teenagers going to the restroom with a friend or two, mothers going to the restroom with their babies. An occasional brother grabbing an unruly child and hauling them outside for a stern talking-to or worse. It was very much like watching a trail of ants running in rows along the top of a curb.

    Upon their return, these young people and mothers would have to work their way back down some rather long rows of folding chairs. If I remember right, there was one large section in the center and two half sections on each side with two aisles dividing the sections. The aisles were always busy with moving bodies - constant from the end of the first prayer until the arena emptied out.

    I was up above the main area in a rather steep group of seats. This allowed me to look over the shoulders of the JWs sitting below me. I was shocked - shocked, I say! - to note that about half of those sitting up there were actually looking at their iPads, SmartPhones, and laptops. I noticed that quite a few had two or three screens open and they would switch back and forth whenever they sensed an attendant approaching or lurking behind them. They didn't seem to care if other R&F or strangers like me noticed what they were doing while the talks went on. I was actually glad to see that these folks were pretty normal when they had access to the Internet, even during an assembly session. Of course, several were in different stages of napping, reading other books, or quietly chatting with their family or friends. What I saw was not unexpected - I attended many assemblies and conventions when I was a youngster, but I was amazed at how brazen some of them were about what they were doing.

    An interesting thing I also noticed was the hum-drum staccato way all the speakers sounded. Of course I was aware that they were reading a script and could not vary at all at any time - even when the situation might call for it. But I noticed that all of the sentences were about the same length. One sentence would end with a rise, and the next would end with a dip. Up, down - up, down - up, down. Every speaker sounded the same way. If there was a sentence that required emphasis, all the speaker would do is raise his voice slightly and end the sentence or paragraph with an upbeat. It was quite hypnotizing. Even the guests (local pioneers or elders) who would come up and share their personal stories sounded like they were pre-recorded and were only standing there moving their lips. Very sleep inducing for sure.

    But back to the subject at hand, but with a bit of a twist. Now what I am about to share is not intended to put down anyone because of their body shape or weight, so please hang on to your slings and arrows:

    Heavy or wide people were clearly problematic no matter where they sat - unless they were in a row with easy ingress or egress. Fortunately, the seats on the floor of the arena were all folding chairs.

    As I watched, it seemed that nearly every heavy or large sister who was sitting in the middle of a row HAD TO GO TO THE BATHROOM AT LEAST ONCE EVERY HOUR. Only teenaged girls were needier in that regard. So I would watch as these poor women would have to choose which way to exit. One time to the left, next time to the right, next time flip a coin. Everyone would have to stand up, slide their chairs back, pick up their purses or briefcases, and let the poor lady or older fellow get by. And of course, it would all repeat when the potty person came back to retake their seat. At first, it seemed that all the heavy-weights picked seats in the middle of the pack.

    Ah, but then I realized that I was wrong. Many had camped out near the end of a row. As those in the middle needed to work their way to the aisle, poor sister or brother much-larger-than-average would have to struggle to get up and then actually move out into the aisle to let those exiting get by. This was often a major undertaking, in some cases 2 minutes or longer. Then it the same process would be repeated. In almost every case, the large person on the end would have to maneuver in and out of the aisle.

    As I sat there I kept thinking, "Why do they put the folding chairs so close to the rows ahead? Why not add a couple of feet between them? But no, the knees of the those sitting in each row, except for the first and last (they could slide their seats back) were pushed so close that almost everyone in the row would have to stand up to let someone out. And there wasn't enough room for heavy people to "suck it in" so that someone could squeeze by them.

    So during the whole afternoon session, as I was being put to sleep by the speakers, I was also mesmerized by the almost constant movement - like rows of piano keys scrolling up and down - as I looked at the arena floor. And this movement was constant throughout the entire session, even during the songs and the prayers.

    I realized all of this movement had less to do with the need to relieve or replenish bodily fluids. It was from boredom. Most people can sit through a 3-hour movie without getting up and going to the bathroom, but not a convention session. OK, even I have to go sometimes during a movie - if I just finished off an extra large Diet Coke. But watching the movement during a convention session gives "bathroom breaks" a whole new definition in terms of our modern culture.

    I found the whole thing very entertaining and caught it all (I never once left my seat for a bathroom break). Next time I go (if my wife is out of town), I will take my camera glasses and film about 20 minutes of the session and then overlay it on a graphic of an ant hill, and speed it up by about 50%. If you watch movies of the old "International Conventions" from the 1950s and 60s you will see that same movement going on while the sessions are going on. Some things never change. It's a scientific fact: Boredom makes one have to go to the bathroom.


Share this