Benches for the supplicants

Published 1:56 pm Saturday, August 20, 2016

If you’ve ever had to attend a meeting of the Southampton or Isle of Wight supervisors — and let’s not forget Franklin council — then you know the meaning of torture.

No, I’m not referring to what decisions the governing bodies make that influence our lives.

Although based on letters and columns of late, that could possibly be included.

Rather, it’s the seating arrangement that I’ve come to find somewhat painful.

Why is that the public must endure those uncovered wooden benches that could make only a Puritan or jihadist smile?

Seriously, whose idea was it to install these leftovers from the Spanish Inquisition?

During the recent public hearing on the proposed solar farms in Southampton, I was reminded of my station in life along with those of you there waiting to speak.

Many people had to stand, and I would have given up my place for one of you except my butt and feet had become numb from listening to the droning presentation. Never was the sun so dull.

My circulation didn’t start to return until the public spoke — often dramatically. Then I could feel the blood moving again, thus enabling me to shift around a bit.

Several times I viewed the commissioners with covetous eyes as they sat in their plush chairs. If ever there were a reason and time for revolt, that would have been it.

Perhaps the true reason that people stay away from meetings is not because of apathy, but instead for self-preservation.

Would that the aforementioned governing bodies followed the Windsor Town Council, which has cushioned chairs. And— I might add — it’s a rare meeting that goes beyond 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Be that as it may, from now on I’ll be carrying a cushion.

STEPHEN H. COWLES is staff writer at The Tidewater News. He hopes that the supervisors and councilmen will look into buying comfortable benches or chairs from IKEA when it opens a new store in Norfolk. Contact him at 562-3187 or email