When you become one of ‘those’ people

 IT WASN’T REALLY busy, but even still every seat was taken at the bar. A platonic threesome was finishing their coffees, bordered on both sides by two guys who had both found themselves with nothing to do on a Wednesday night; two draft beers were now filling the social void nicely. Two friends having their weekly get together over red wine, and two other couples filled the remaining seats. Everything was copacetic, one might say.

But then one wouldn’t be a bartender, because behind the plank an evening can turn on a dime and that dime had just rolled in the front door in the form of a man in a golf shirt and a woman in a pair of $300 jeans.

Mr. Golf paced behind the seated few like a caged lion. Walking with angry intent is always comical — at a distance. That distance disappeared as soon he pushed in between one of the couples who were mid-conversation.

Important to note: If ordering at a busy bar with no seats available, try to order between two people who are not together. It seems like common sense, but if it were I wouldn’t be putting it in print.

I tried to get Mr. Golf to move over by gesturing first with my head, then with my arm and then by placing myself physically in the space not between the couple. He didn’t move. You can lead a horse to water, but you certainly can’t make him drink.

“Excuse me,” said the female part of the conversing couple.

“What?” asked Mr. Golf.

“We are trying to have a conversation here,” she said, well within her rights.

“Well, I’m trying to get a drink.”

He looked at me, then at her and after a pause reluctantly moved to the space between two people who didn’t know each other.

“I hate these people around here,” he said to me, but clearly about her.

For the next 15 minutes, he and Ms. Jeans badgered the seated people about whether they were leaving and when they intended to leave. Failing in that endeavor, they then they badgered me about when those same seated people were leaving.

“I guess when they are done,” I said, not really helping.

They stood behind the seated people and glowered ineffectually at them, all the while making comments about “these people around here.”

“Are you almost finished?” Mr. Golf asked one of the two solo beer drinkers.

“You can’t bother the people sitting,” I said finally.

After which some of the barely audible snideness became about me. I guessed that I was now one of “those” people.

Eventually, one of the seated couples rose to leave. The two pushed in so close that the leaving couple couldn’t physically get out of their seats. There was an uncomfortable pause while the two couples faced each other less than amicably. Finally, Mr. Golf took a half step backward while Ms. Jeans took a half step forward, plunking her enormous purse onto the dirty napkins and postprandial discards of the previous couple. The departing couple had to edge out sideways, by which time the two were shoving all the dirty dishes forward in my direction.

“Finally,” Ms. Jeans said.

“These people around here …” Mr. Golf said, shaking his head.

“What people do you mean?” I asked, ever the contrarian.

“You know. The entitled ones.”

That comment resonated in my head for the next two hours as they demanded more and more and more, never once considering anyone else at all. It was all about them, all of the time. In the end, I wondered if they even knew what the word “entitled” meant, because they certainly knew the behavior.

The comic strip Pogo was famous for the saying, “We have met the enemy and they are us.” But in the case of one impatient couple I would put it this simply: Sir and Madam, YOU are those people.

Gandhi was right: “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change toward him.”