The bar was starting to fill up. And it wasn’t even 4 pm. I was aware of that because my shift ended at 4 pm. Special events often bring out the people and we were bracing for one of the most special of events. It was already two deep at the bar, meaning there was one row of people sitting, and one row of people standing behind them. All the tables were full, and there was a wait at the front door. In the restaurant business, these are all good troubles to have.
A couple had secured one seat but was still looking for another. Two drinks were ordered, and two drinks were prepared. In the meantime, the hostess and the staff were doing their best to keep things running as smoothly as possible. Which in a one-sided arrangement is not always that easy. For things to go smoothly, both sides have to want them to. And that is not always the case.
A seat opened up, about three people down from that couple and the standing gentleman quickly swooped in, grabbed the chair, picked it up and began moving it through the crowd with some difficulty. Crowds often don’t like to move. You can take that from a guy who has worked with crowds his entire adult life.
“Sir,” I said, trying to get his attention before he finished his task. “I’m sorry sir, but you can’t move the chair there, it will be blocking the fire exit.”
A simple and obvious enough statement, right? You can’t block a thoroughfare in a busy building filled with people. What if there was an emergency?
You would have thought I kicked his dog.
“It’s people like you who ruin everything for everybody!” he yelled at me jabbing his finger like it was a stitching needle on a sewing machine.
The woman not with him, but sitting next to him, literally jumped in her seat at the unexpected outburst.
“You’ve really offended me!” he shouted. “I come here all the time and I always move the furniture!” he added with a volume of emphasis.
“You’re this,” and, “You’re that,” he added storming and stomping around like a three-year-old stuck in a body doubly exponential in age.
“I’m sorry sir,” I said. “But you cannot block a fire exit.”
“I do it all the time!” he shouted.
The woman with him tried to calm him down. I don’t know what she said, but whatever it was turned his volume down. So he stood silently staring at me with naked loathing.
“We can scoot over one seat,” said the lady who had jumped at his initial outburst.
“That guy…” he jabbed his finger at me.
“…is only doing his job,” finished that woman.
“In fact, I think you owe him an apology. Nobody should be spoken to like that, especially when they are just following the rules.”
The man then looked at her with that same loathing.
“I agree,” said another man with no connection to either group.
“Me too,” said yet another unconnected person.
The man looked around at the group as if they were villagers with pitchforks. Until he met the gaze of his female companion.
He then looked down and mumbled an apology to her.
“I’m sorry I’ve had a bad day,” or something to that effect. He then, with some prodding from her, muttered something similar to the woman sitting. He walked over to the man who had agreed and apologized to him for raising his voice. A cursory apology to the other woman followed. In fact, he apologized to everyone at the bar within earshot with one notable exception. He never apologized to me. Not in the least.
“He’s had a bad day,” said the man’s companion, writing an apologetic note on the bill she paid, along with a larger tip percentage than usually seen.
Leaving me with these thoughts:
-That is not the first time she has had to apologize for his behavior.
-Some people apologize when they know they are wrong. Other people apologize to avoid the consequences of being wrong.
-If simply stating a company policy, or a public policy, or a law, offends you, then you deserve to be offended.
-“Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted, when we tolerate what we know to be wrong, when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy or too frightened, when we fail to speak up and speak out, we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice,” once said Robert Kennedy.
-The ten minutes before you go home, can sometimes be the longest ten minutes there are.