Raising the bar is a logical fallacy

Listen: Raising the bar part 1
Listen: Raising the bar part 2

I was the first of the service staff to arrive, 45 minutes before we opened, and 15 minutes before I was scheduled. In the restaurant business many service people are less concerned with their hourly wage and more concerned with the ability to deliver good service to their customers. $4 (before taxes) is not worth losing $50 when it comes time to deliver that service.

Whenever I am called upon to train someone new, I always start with one simple thing: Make sure to get set up properly. If you wait until you are busy it will be too late, and you will then spend the rest of your day behind. And behind is never a good place to be, especially when much of your income is discretionary.

“Where’s the cream?”

“Where’s the celery stick?”

Questions like that often lead to diminishing returns, whether it’s your fault or not.

As I walked past our outdoor seating shanty, I saw a car parked directly in front of the building. The window on that car went down as I walked by.

“Are you guys open?” asked the man in the driver’s seat.

“Not for 45 minutes,” I said.

“So, we can’t get a drink?” asked his companion.

“Not for 45 minutes,” I said, before walking around the building to the back door.

Five minutes later he was banging on the front door.

“I need to use the bathroom,” he said.

After spending five minutes finding the manager to get the front door unlocked, and then several more minutes hurrying up the janitor who was finishing up cleaning the bathroom, I stepped back behind the bar to finish setting up.

The man came out of the bathroom and walked immediately over to the bar.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “We aren’t’ open yet.”

“I know,” he said. “I just wanted to ask you about the history of this building.”

“I’m so sorry,” I said. “But I have to get set up.”

“So, you are not going to tell me the history of this building then?” he asked indignantly.

“Not right now.”

He then made a motion to take the upside down barstool off of the bar.

“Sir, we are not open, you can’t come inside yet.”

“Why not?”

“Because we are not open yet.”

“I don’t understand.”

Just then his companion walked through the door we had unlocked for him. I looked at the clock. It was now 20 minutes until opening and I had done almost no set-up.

“He says we can’t sit here,” said the man making an issue out of a non-issue.

“Then why is the front door open?” she asked smirking.

Just then the manager came back.

“Folks, we are not open yet, I need you to not be inside the building.”

The voice of authority had spoken, and they finally relented. But they got only as far as the foyer before they sat down.

“Can we get a couple of waters?” asked the woman of the busser who was vacuuming the entryway carpet.

I didn’t hear his answer, but I did hear theirs.

“Why not?”

In rhetoric this type of argument is called “moving the goalposts” and is an informal logical fallacy. The evidence provided is dismissed, and new different evidence is demanded. Ultimately this evidence will also be rejected, until the person providing the evidence finally becomes exhausted. “Yeah, but what about…” is a great example of this type of argument and is often used by persons on the internet. Especially when it comes to politics.

 Eventually the manager approached them in the foyer, and soon enough they were standing immediately outside the now locked front door.

Ten minutes later they knocked on the door again. The hostess had arrived and she made the mistake of opening the front door to find out what they wanted. Another round of “why nots” and another arrival of the manager ensued.

At the very stroke of opening, they again banged on the front door. The man held up his phone pointing at the time.

Reluctantly the manager opened the front door and the couple hurried over to the bar.

“Two espresso martinis,” said the man even before sitting down.

“It will be a few minutes,” I said. “We haven’t had a chance to set up the espresso machine yet.”

“Why not?” he asked.

Leaving me with these thoughts.

-“The problem is the solution,” once opined Marcus Aurelius.

-The other name for that type of fallacious argument is ironically “raising the bar.”

-Banging on the front door of a bar before they open might indicate other issues rather than timeliness.

-“You know you are in trouble, when the bartender cries.” The words from a 1998 country music song by Michael Peterson.

-Closed is the opposite of open, just saying.

-Screw you, Aurelius.