You can be right or you can be happy

The sun had been shining and the birds were still chirping; only winter in Northern California can look like this. Seventy-six degrees when the sun goes down. Wow. If there really is a promised land then it probably looks a lot like this. Marin County truly is over the rainbow from much of the rest of the world.

The couple parked their fabulous car in the fabulous wooded parking lot and then made their way into the fabulous restaurant. They hadn’t made reservations, but on this night they got lucky because there were three open stools at the bar.

“There’s a 20-minute wait,” the hostess said, “but you may sit at the bar immediately if you like.”

Time changes always affect business, either speeding things up or slowing things down. If change is truly the only constant, then resistance to change comes in a close second.

They sat and ordered the two most expensive red wines the restaurant had to offer. And being on the cusp of California’s Wine Country that means that they were quite expensive indeed.

Northern California has so much to offer. Almost every vegetable you can think of is available, practically year-round. If it’s not grown or made here, it almost certainly shipped here. Oakland is one of the largest ports, per volume, in the country. Abundant seafood, plenty of agriculture — both organic and conventional —and one of the top five wine countries in the world, we really do have it all. In fact the Bay Area culinary scene is so vibrant that San Francisco is one of the few cities that can actually sit its entire population down to eat, at once.

This couple was taking full advantage of those facts. They ordered the two most-expensive steaks on the menu. Grass-fed, all-natural prime meat, something not readily available everywhere.

After they ordered their dinner, a man sitting their right departed, leaving an empty seat on either side of the couple.

Another lucky couple approached the bar, looking to sit.

The bartender waited two beats to see if common decency surfaced. When it didn’t, he stepped in.

“Would you two mind moving over so this couple can sit together?”

The woman readily agreed. The man however had other thoughts.

“I don’t want sit way over there,” he said, gesturing 16 inches away.

“Either direction is appreciated,” the bartender noted.

“But we’ve already ordered dinner,” he said.

It is one thing to ask people to move when they are already eating their meals. It is another if they don’t even have place settings yet.

Often people in a bar think that they own the seats they are sitting in. I hear the joke, “I’ll sell these to you,” all the time. But customers do not own the seats, the restaurant does and restaurants get to decide what happens to them.

Don’t believe me? When you’re done eating, try giving your table at that fully booked restaurant to your two friends still waiting in the bar. You will be introduced to the manager promptly I’m sure.

When the two expensive steaks cooked to perfection arrived 16 inches farther down than originally, the man sent his back.

“My evening has been ruined.”

The bartender looked at him, then at his perfectly cooked steak, then at his deliciously premium California cabernet. I thought I saw him shrug.

His companion also looked at her steak, her wine and at the beautiful setting they were so lucky to enjoy.

“Well,” she said, looking at him coolly. “I’m going to enjoy mine.”

Leaving me with these thoughts:

• If he thought moving 16 inches over ruined something, then I wonder what he thought about the car ride home.

• T.S. Eliot once said, “Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm, but the harm (that they cause) does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.”

• If merely asking to be considerate of someone else ruins your evening, then you really don’t deserve to have a nice evening in the first place.

• Money can’t buy happiness, but it can sure put a down payment on misery.

• Even Oz had a wicked witch.