Later in the evening this past Friday night, while I was quietly unwinding in front of a holiday season fire in Cobblestones lobby, after an incredibly busy day, the front door opened and the din of a large group began to fill the lobby.
Just as I began to look up and behind me from my comfy leather chair, a voice too close and rather loud announced; “We are here for tours for tots.”
I knew what she meant, sort of—but recognized the slurred speech (being the trained “professional” that I am–wink wink). “We’re here from Charlie’s bar to sing Christmas carols” she further declared and seconds later, ambled closer to the bar entrance to join two of her touring party, as one announced loudly enough; “Eeew, I smell seafood. That’s dee-SCUST-ing..I’m not goin in-dare” (= in there, but slurred) as she then tried to turn away but stumbled ever so slightly, before leaning on her friend.
Now thinking to myself, this group has been touring for a few hours, singing at any number of bars perhaps along the way. I guessed with relative certainty, that the singing produced a tremendous thirst, most joyously quenched with beer. ( I would have wagered Budwesier)
With no malice at heart–being a lover of both beer and song myself– I rose from my chair, silently confirmed with other managers now in the lobby (meaning, I looked at them and rolled my head and eyes ever so slightly towards the exit—2 or 3 times for em-PHA-sis—and armed with our consensus opinion, suggested that maybe the group should do their caroling “outside, in front of the restaurant” (read between the lines—As far away from the bar, and bar customers, as possible)
My suggestion, as might be anticipated, was met with great offense, as the now-leader of the revelers march-walked with determination towards Robin, our General Manager, and confronted “Who are you?” (Robin said “Robin”) The leader continued immediately, likely without actually hearing Robin’s name and rather aggressively
“What’s your title?”
“General manager. What’s yours?” was Robin’s good natured retort. “And, why are you being so fresh to me right now?” Robin justifiably asked, and ever so calmly.
At this point, the virtual “gloves came off”! I don’t really remember the ensuing diatribe from the self appointed representative, but after she thrust her wrinkly “Toys for Tots” flyer-slash-business card in Robin’s face—it went on, without any periods or pauses, something along the lines of—“THISiswho-I-yam that’swho an’you people thisnthat, don’t support toysfortots and so on, and he told ustosingoutsideand he’s a so and so, and we are here to support Charlie’s, but now wegonnacall the Lowell Sun and tell them that you were rude and don’t care about children and I watch Jerry Springer a lot and there is no way blah blah blah” (Okay, I made the Jerry Springer part up for effect—and perhaps too the gravel-ly, smokes-too-much-voice that I keep hearing in my head)
Robin, who is as cool as anyone I have ever met when it comes to diffusing conflict remained easy, and finally explained nicely and calmly that “some in the party have been drinking, and this is just not the best time perhaps, for caroling in the restaurant”
Well, at this point, others slurred and/or shouted objections, while the more reasonable, and perhaps more sober, group representatives started to herd everyone out the door (while some continued to shout and/or threaten)
In objection, the head big-mouth barked over her exiting shoulder- “I have had only two bee-ahs (beers) and I only weigh 170lbs and that doesn’t make me intoxicated.”
Of course, after 17 years of interfering with Robin’s expert handling of such situations, you’d think I would have learned by now, but no. It was waaay to easy to suggest from behind the group leader as I returned to my chair- “C’mon honey, you go at least a buck seventy five.” (I thought it was cute)
Well. Had she not been flanked by two fellow Tot-tour partners, I most likely would have received a proper punch in the mouth!
Instead, the following day, four of them—with small tots in tow—returned to Cobblestones with homemade (flimsy) signs (drawn in crayon) and picketed out front, declaring that the owner of Cobblestones (me) does not support “Toys for Tots”.
Cool-like-that, as usual, Robin called “Charlie”.