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This is our table


People are funny when it comes to routines. We settle into them easily, and leave them often hesitantly. I'm not sure most people are aware of their routines, or why they feel displaced when the routine is interrupted, assuming they even realize their routines have been interrupted.

Take, for example, the uproar I caused last week when I sat at a different table at my Master Gardeners class.

In the Master Gardeners program, we have mentor groups: a small number of geographically close (residentially) fellow-students. We were introduced to these small groups before the classes started, in an effort to stop overwhelming new trainees. This is the first year the program has created these mentor groups, as, like most activities in the program, an experiment. Although it's nice to be able to walk into a room with a hundred people and recognized a smiling face, most of the class tend to stay with only these groups. Whose to blame these people? A familiar face, a brief history, a developing friendship: all well within a person's comfort zone.

Normally, where normal is what I've done for the last three weeks, I've sat at the third table back in the middle of the room with the two women I carpool with. This works out well because we arrive early to help set up the presentation equipment, and leave slightly late after taking everything down. Today, however, I wanted to meet new people, so I put my bag down at a different table during setup, and sat down at the full table when class began.

My carpool-mates were confused, and I suspect surprised and a little hurt. They had gathered a copy of the handouts for me. They had saved my seat for me. Why had this other woman thought it was okay to sit in my seat? The shock! The horror!

My new table companions seemed just as confused. Who is this woman? Why is she sitting here? She doesn't know us. We don't know her. When we tested our soil's pH values, several people at the table went twice, completely ignoring me and the fact I hadn't gone yet, give me that pH meter, dammit.

No, I didn't actually say anything. I waited patiently (wouldn't my mom be surprised), and tested my soil last. After, I'm convinced, the other people at the table ruined the meter by doing exactly what the instructions said not to do: don't submerge the end in water, don't rub it with steel wool or other abrasives, don't do this or that or whatever. Yeah.

My soil has a pH of exactly 7. I wonder how I managed to have the exact meter default.

So, you can probably imagine my humour today at class during the program announcements. The one of note went something like, "Now, I know you're all set in your ways, but please welcome other fellow Master Gardeners when they wish to sit with you at your table. Don't send them away saying, 'This is our table.'"

Right. Routines. This is our table, go away.