Boundaries are bound to keep changing

SHE SAT IN front of me, not out of reverence or respect or even out of interest, but simply because it was the only seat available.

“Finally some adult time,” said my newest charge.

The person who had just vacated that seat had offered no chance for interaction, which was fine; people need what they need. But, this new person appeared to crave the opposite. Oh well, in the restaurant business you either learn how to adapt or you find another job.

People sometimes ask me, “Aren’t you tired of doing the same job for so long?” I just smile, because it is never the same job — ever. The people always change. Sometimes that’s the people you work with; sometimes it’s who you work for. But the biggest change is the customers — they change every day, all day.

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus might have put it best when he said, “You can never step into the same river twice, because other waters are constantly flowing in.”

Anyone who works in the restaurant business will tell you the same thing. It’s never just another day, another dollar.

With that thought I scooped up the dollar bill left as a gratuity.

“Yay!” one of the other patrons farther down the bar yelled for no apparent reason.

“Woo hoo!” his companion yelled.

There is nothing that says adult like 50-year-old men wearing board shorts and shouting nonsense in a bar.

“I spend all day dealing with children,” my newest arrival said, seemingly oblivious to the commotion.

“I know what you mean,” I said before heading back down to the hollering men.

“Guys,” I said in a calmly reassuring tone. “I’m glad you’re having a good time, but perhaps you could bring it down a notch.”

They grumbled briefly before applying a new, lower notch.

“I am an elementary teacher,” my positively positioned person said.

I nodded.

“All day long I try and be positive, set boundaries …”

“Hey,” I said, directing my comments toward three 40-something women at a cocktail table. “I’m not going to tell you again. You can’t use the martini glasses to play quarters.”

I shook my head at them while raising my forefinger. “No!”

The women giggled conspiratorially, but put the quarter away.

“So like I was saying, all day long it’s staying positive, setting boundaries and providing alternative activities,” she continued.

“Hey!” I said looking past her to Mr. Boardshorts, who had just knocked over another glass. Changing my tactics, I handed him a towel. He looked at it for a moment before he realized it was for cleaning up the mess he had just made. Sheepishly, he wiped the bar.

“Here’s a menu, if you want to order something when you are done.”

At about this moment the boys spied the girls and vice versa. And soon enough in spite of their mortgages, marriages, kids and professions, they all started squealing like junior high kids.

“I was all … and she was like … and then they were all … ” said the middle-aged Realtor to her similarly aged friends.

“Dude, I’m gonna kick your a— if you don’t shut up,” said the mid-centurion lawyer laughingly to his companions who were also approaching the mid-century mark in age.

Eventually the two groups merged, with one part of the group making out in public and the other doing their best not to notice, all punctuated by an occasional high-pitched shriek.

Meanwhile, my teacher sat at the bar sipping her one adult beverage of the week.

“Thanks for the delightful evening,” she said, getting up to leave.

“Thanks for coming in,” I said, while simultaneously raising a finger at the giggling group making out in the back.

It’s just nice to finally have some adult interaction.

I looked around the bar at all the middle-aged adolescents, smiled and thought:

• Sometimes, the only thing necessary for adult interaction is an adult beverage.

• Heraclitus also said, “The path up and down are one and the same,” a thought that can be applied to age-appropriate behavior as well.

• Maybe there’s a future in elementary school teaching for bartenders. Or, perhaps, elementary school teachers have a future in bartending.

• Either way, the thoughts of one long dead Greek are going to come into play.