The couple walked into the empty bar and looked around. They walked to one end and then to the other. They sat by the TV, then got up to move farther away then moved again and finally sat — at the only dirty place at the bar.
Aristotle once said, “a man, being just as hungry as thirsty, and placed in between food and drink, must necessarily remain where he is and starve to death.”
We see it every day. When it’s slow no one knows where to sit or stand. But once it becomes busy, things become obvious. If you can only stand in one spot, then that is where you stand, period.
I picked up the man’s cellphone and cleaned up the breadcrumbs, wiping carefully around the woman’s purse.
It was while cleaning that another couple came in and they, too, mulled their many choices. Finally they sat immediately adjacent to the first couple.
“We’re saving those seats for our friends,” the first couple said.
There were plenty of seats at the bar so I decided not to say anything. We have a policy about not saving seats, but bartenders are not the fun police, we are there to help people have fun, not to stop them. No harm, no foul, I always say.
The second couple settled on two seats farther down. A threesome arrived and took possession of three seats. Soon we had a couple, two open seats, a threesome, a single guy, a single gal, another single guy, two open seats and two more couples.
Aristotle was about to go right out the window, because it was now a choice between sitting and standing. And no bar is going to opt for empty spaces when the pressures of business commence.
Two people approached the empty seats next to the first couple.
“We’re saving these,” said the woman who as of yet had still not ordered anything.
Cue the fun police.
“Ma’am we don’t allow the saving of seats for people who are not here,” I said.
She positively glared at me.
“They’re parking the car.”
Which, of course is one of the two big lies in the restaurant business, the other being, “You must have lost our reservations.”
“It’s no big deal,” the standing couple said. “We’ll just sit over there.”
“We’re saving these seats,” the other couple said. They, too, had not yet ordered anything.
The beginnings of crunch time and I had four people not ordering anything and four empty seats for people who were “parking the car.” I often wonder what people think lobbies are for? Who knows, maybe I’ll just park my car in the drive-through at the local burger joint and see what happens.
A customer is only right so far as it doesn’t impact another customer.
The standing couple ordered drinks behind the two open bar stools. Their guests arrived some time later, conspicuously before the other couple’s friends who were still “parking the car.”
One of the new arrivals went to sit.
“We’re saving those,” the man said.
I was just about to step in when the new arrival said, “Don’t get hostile with me!”
“F— you!” he said, jabbing his finger at the man. ‘You can’t save seats at a bar!”
“Sir,” I said. “You can’t use language like that.”
“You’re gonna let them f—ing save seats?” he asked, his voice rising.
“No I’m not, but I’m also not going to let you talk to people that way.”
Eventually the new arrivals were seated, but by that time the hostile man directed most of his hostility my way. When they left for dinner he conspicuously stiffed me on the tip. The other couple’s friends finally arrived and all of them moved to the dining room, making my net gain on four seats and eight people a total of zero.
Leaving me with these thoughts:
• Sometimes it’s not what you say but how you say it.
• You have a right to be angry but you don’t have a right to be hostile
• Aristotle’s paradigm was adopted by a later writer as “Buridan’s Ass,” which somehow seems more appropriate.
• Some days it’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
• Come on people, can’t we all just get along?