When you are drinking, it is a different matter. Then you want your bartender right away, Johnny-on-the-spot, greeting you brightly as you walk in, hands poised, ready to spring into action at your direction, pulling taps, scooping ice, upending bottles, mixing, serving.
But I don't drink. Though a drink, in the form of a non-alcoholic beer or soda or coffee, was the price I was willing to pay to use their restroom. A lot of coffee, driving down to Logan Square. And just walking in, using their bathroom and leaving, well, that's against my moral code.
After parking and talking to the union workers picketing the Dill Pickle Co-op—whose ownership never did get back to me with their side of things—I had an hour of parking left (I almost said "on the meter." Though there is no meter. Only an app, ParkChicago, and a good one). So I thought I would wander down Milwaukee Avenue a bit. Toward the Logan, where I took my younger son to his first movie.
First things first. I slid into The Old Plank, a welcoming place, walls open to the perfect summer day outside. I took a seat at the bar, looked around, expectant. One patron, a woman at end, studying her phone. There was a bartender, six feet to my left, but he never looked at me. I checked my own cell phone, waiting, patient. He didn't come over. Maybe this is the invisibility of age. Everybody in the place was 30 years younger than me. A waitress came hurrying behind the bar. I sat up a little straighter. For a second, I thought she had noticed the bartender was asleep at the switch and was rushing into the breach to take my order. She wasn't. She just grabbed something from behind the bar and left again. I gave the bartender a last look, slid off the stool, and shambled back to find the rest room. It was where it was supposed to be. On my return, I snapped a photo of a mural claiming we were "In the Heart of Logan Square." I'd say the heart of Logan Square is the eagle-topped column up the street (honoring the centennial of Illinois in 1918, created by Henry Bacon, the designer of the Lincoln Memorial). But it's their wall, they can make whatever claim they like.
Returning, I considered hopping back on a stool, ordering something, or trying to. I don't have many rigid moral rules, but I don't like to barge into a place, use the bathroom, and leave. That's something bums do. These are businesses. But the bartender still was gazing off in the middle distance as I passed, so I mentally shrugged, decided not to force my five dollars upon them, and just kept going, out the door and onto the street, where the day was unfolding beautifully.
Bartender? Unlikely. The person ignoring you probably considers themselves something else, a thing that they don't get paid for . Musician, actor, writer, model. It's not the invisibility of age so much as the distractibility of youth. You have what they want. A career .ReplyDelete
Good point. Maybe he was an aspiring journalist, daydreaming how he could possibly make a contact...Delete
Perhaps you’re not so anonymous. Maybe it was his way of ghosting you over something you wrote.Delete
Yes, I often run into 20-something ready to cut me on a moment's notice for something I wrote. Kidding. They don't read the papers.Delete
Turning to a serious note, aren't we all missing the point here. Neil is disrespected and ignored by the bartender and the waitress, something that's unusual for him. But it happens to thousands each day What if he were black, and walked into the place and met the same reception? Would he have proceeded to the restroom, or be wary of a more threatening reception yet to come?Delete
Way to go!ReplyDelete
Ouch. I resemble that remark. As a man of a certain age who drove Uber for three years, I frequently barged into a place, used the bathroom, and left. Apparently my moral code is not as taut. Bums of the world unite!ReplyDelete
I'm almost fifteen years your senior, Mr. S, so imagine how I would have felt. At some point, probably after 60, you become like a rock or a tree. Old and in the way. People with dogs consider you to be an obstacle in their path, and the younger members of the opposite sex completely ignore you and rarely make eye contact. Yes, this is most definitely the invisibility of age. If you're even noticed at all, people often ask you if you need help or if you're okay. It's embarrassing and demeaning. I invented a new word for how it begins to feel I call it "becoming a gigger"...no, not the job thing. "Geezer" and...never mind. Use your imagination.ReplyDelete
Old age. Grandfatherhood. Everybody in the place would have been about 45 years younger than me, and I most assuredly wouldn't have wanted to be there. But when you gotta go, you gotta go, especially when you're a male of a certain age. So I'd rather barge into a place, use the bathroom, and leave like a bum, than pee in my pants and soak myself.
And what the hell, if they wouldn't wait on you and take your moolah, then it becomes okay. You were willing to be polite, but they still ignored you? I say "Better to be pissed-off (and then whiz, and leave) than to be pissed-on." So you took care of business, and moved on? I'd have done the same.
In New York, of course, they still have what amounts to pay toilets. You MUST buy something, so they will unlock the door to an unspeakably filthy Mickey D's bathroom. In the Midwest, probably not so much. It's nicer and more polite here. Most of the time, anyway.
Well put. Steinberg should offer you a free seniors dinner at Denny’s for best contribution this week,Delete
Meh. Another day, another rant. It's what I do. But thanks for the high praise. Anywhere but Denny's, though. There's one near my house. Been there maybe three times in almost thirty years.Delete
maybe there was some app you were supposed to use to order?????ReplyDelete
If so, that's ridiculous. he was physically present. AT THE BAR.Delete
But I'm afraid you might be right. It's happened to me at breweries.
I was in a brewpub yesterday for a beer and it was quite nice, with a traditional wooden bar with a long row of taps behind it. Reminded me of younger days since I used to be there a lot, but not for many years regularly and not at all recently. Reminiscing I thought this was a perfect place and joked that the only thing missing was the heavy smoke. The young bartender was puzzled because he didn’t know about the old days.ReplyDelete
Maybe I missed it but couldn’t you have said something like, “Excuse me, I’d like to order a soda.”?ReplyDelete
Very strange photo. Is it art?
Yes, I could have. Had my primary interest been in placing my order. Maybe I was too subtle about that. The heart at top is painted inside the bar, the mural below on a wall at Logan Square.Delete
I don't know why, but I'm curious: what was the first movie yo took your son to see? Your choice or his?ReplyDelete
I couldn't remember. I doubt it was my choice. Some kiddie thing. He'd have been about 3.Delete
The one and only movie I ever took my granddaughter to see was 101 Dalmatians, because she liked dogs so much that her first words were doggie rather than mommy or daddy. And she made me leave after less than 2 minutes, because she somehow got the idea that the dogs were being mistreated. She's now 39 and remembers it well.Delete
When I first visited Italy I was advised that the ancient buildings in Florence and Sienna were not constructed with public restrooms, but every café might offer the necessary accommodation, but only if the necessary protocols are followed: order a coffee or a coke, and perhaps a biscotti, exchange a few pleasantries with the owner or server, and then ask politely for il gabinetto.ReplyDelete
Try going unnoticed when walking into a furniture store or car dealership.ReplyDelete