The leaves had begun to pile, ever so slightly, by the front door. The man in a brightly colored short sleeved Hawaiian shirt had just put a Patagonia down vest over the top of it, so that two garishly colored sleeves extruded from the deep earth tone of the vest. Fall is melancholic as well as improvident, we still want it to be Summer, as the seasons inevitably fall into Winter.
A man hovered on the periphery of the group seated at the bar. He and a woman had entered the bar at just about the same moment, he ever so slightly in front of her. He had already walked the length of the bar and seemed to be accessing the stays of those seated guests. However, he had also failed to consider the four other people standing at various points around the bar. It’s one thing to be blissfully ignorant, its quite another to be callously rude.
“Is anyone leaving?” he asked after two such passes. “I want to eat.”
Unfortunately, he said it loud enough for everyone to hear. I caution people all the time, the easiest way to get someone to stay, is to make them feel like you want them to leave. It’s true in parking lots, grocery stores, and especially true in restaurants and bars.
I have never heard anyone, after hearing such an exclamation, say, “You know what, you can have my seat.” Never, not once in my 30 years behind the bar. I have often seen people offer their seat to someone who hadn’t asked, but the very act of asking first, precludes the desired outcome.
I pointed at the four other people, who stood much closer to him, than to me, almost, literally, touching shoulders with him. And I pointed at the woman who had arrived ever so slightly behind him.
“I didn’t see them,” he said. “But I am in front of her.”
Odd how some people easily recognize things to their immediate advantage, but often seem oblivious to the things that move them further back in the line.
“Let the game come to you,” we say in the bar business. Pushing, pressuring, and complaining never speed anything up. And eventually the game came to that man and that woman.
“I was here first,” he told the woman, as he stepped in front of her, to the seat closest to her. Which was an odd thing to say, and to do, when there were two seats available, and two people waiting. But some people are incredibly concerned with their immediate perceived status. Not status in the eyes of everyone around, but rather in the eyes of some interior voice that always seems to motivate bad behavior.
“Sure,” she said, clearly a little put off.
Only once he had secured what he wanted; did he look at the woman. She was about the same age, dressed nicely, but not overly so, and she wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. They could have easily been the male/female sides of the same coin. They would have made a cute couple, except for one little thing.
“Can I buy you a drink?” he asked after a few minutes.
“No, thank you,” she replied.
“Sorry about the seat thing…” he began to explain.
She simply shook her head. And when another seat opened up on the other side of the bar, she got up and moved over there.
He looked at me.
“I guess chivalry isn’t appreciated anymore,” he said, completely missing the irony of that statement.
Once I watched a man shove another man for no reason and then turn to me and say, “Did you see that?” in a tone and manner that indicated it was the other guy’s fault. Only when I said, “I did,” did he begin to realize that maybe I didn’t see things the same way as him. And when the police arrived, that really hit home.
It was the same with this newer guy. I know, because he began to explain, and then continued to explain for the rest of the evening.
At the end of that evening, when he finally sat at the bar all alone, he asked me a question.
“What’s a good night to come here, you know, to meet the ladies.”
“Next Thursday should be good,” I replied.
Leaving me with these thoughts.
-Being “right” can be awfully lonely.
-Guilt often resides in the explanation. Especially in a long unsolicited one.
-A true gentleman is a gentleman always, not just when he thinks he can get something out of it.
-We were closed for a private party on that “next” Thursday. Maybe I knew that, and maybe I didn’t.
-The universe might not be watching you, but the bartender always is. It’s their job.