“No ma’am.” He popped the table legs out with loud ting and locked it in place by sliding a piece of metal to a hinge. He groaned when he stood up and when he moved I could almost hear each of his tired vertebrae stacking one by one. While he moved towards vertical, I hustled around to the other side of the table and started to unfold a tablecloth. He eventually made his way down to the legs at the other end of the wooden table.
“Ma’am, I’ll take care of that. That’s my job,” he said in a nearly scolding tone. I set the tablecloth on a chair and stood there. When he had all four table legs and his own two legs planted firmly on the ground, the man started to push the table towards the wall. He left a few inches space between the table and the wall and moved for the tablecloths.
“Okay, but I’ll stand here in case you need anything,” I said. I didn’t have anywhere else to go and I was anxious to cover the table in informational brochures and free pencils and cups for the kids.
“Ma’am, it’s fine. It’s my job.” He worked on the tablecloths while I considered what to say next. Standing idle and being silent – I’m not good at either.
The tablecloths were probably intended for tables no more than six feet long. At least two or three feet of wooden top was exposed at one end of the table. The man shuffled to the naked end and unfolded another tablecloth. He worked methodically, initially placing the tablecloth at the exposed end and spreading it out towards the other end of the table. Who knows how many table coverings he had unfurled and arranged at the event facility.
Once he straightened the tablecloths and made sure that they lined up, he walked to one end. He bent over, lifted the two corners up from where the cloth hung inches above the floor and laid them on the table. He then grabbed both sides of tablecloth, about halfway down on the excess fabric, and tied them in a knot. He then picked up all the fabric that was on top of the table and let it drop the ground. The oversized tablecloth hanging from the end of the table instantly looked tailored.
“I’ve never seen that before. Can you show me again on the other end?” We moved to the other end of the table. He didn’t say a word and went through picking up the ends, tying the middle pieces, and letting it drop back down. He realized my interest was genuine and despite his obvious desire for me to leave him alone, he asked if I needed to see it one more time before he checked in with the next vendor who had been missing a table.
See above tablecloth folding steps.