Sunday, November 13, 2005

"We Reserve The Right To Refuse Service"

Lisa posted a comment in response to my post about parents who let their kids run wild in Starbucks. She mentioned restaurants in Chicago -- my beloved, adopted home town -- that have "Adults Only Areas." Fantastic.

I've always said that I'd pay extra for the privilege of eating a meal or seeing a movie in a place that absolutely banned children. Usually when I said that, parents were apalled. They usually tell me that such a place would be illegal. "You can't just ban children. That's age discrimination."


But when I pay twice as much for my pancakes at a restaurant because I'm over twelve and under sixty that's
not??? When I pay more for my movie tickets for the same reason, that's not age discrimination??

And when women sue to get into men-only clubs, because it's sexual discrimination, it's empowering. But when a new Curves, the women-only gym, opens, it's... empowering.

Also this week I saw a report on one of the local news stations -- for those of you who don't live in Los Angeles, trust me, it really doesn't matter which one -- wherein the reporter went to local clubs and bars where the regulars all know that a certain room or patio is the smoking area. Of course that's totally illegal, and this news reporter was happy to bust the bars and bring the Fire Marshall around.

Now, I happen to be a non-smoker. I wish I
were a smoker... I used to be a smoker... and someday soon I'll be a smoker again, when I reach the age where the number of years I have to lose by smoking is less than the number of years I'm holding onto by not smoking. On that day, I think there ought to be bars where consenting adults can, by agreement, voluntarily smoke. Where by merely walking in you can acknowledge the risk of inhaling secondhand smoke and assume it, just as you do at a friend's house.

The argument is often made, "Well, what about the people who work there?" Let's keep it real, okay? If there is one job that is not hard to come by it is working in a bar in Los Angeles. Honestly. If you don't like breathing secondhand smoke, and the bar you work in decides to permit smoking in one of its rooms, and you are so sensitive to it that you can't work in any of the other rooms, there are maybe six jillion other bars you can work in.

And by the way, if you're that fussy about the air that you breathe? Here's another word of advice:
Don't live in Los Angeles! Or at the very least don't work in a bar. Go serve pancakes or anything else on a tray. You get the point.

But let's look at it from the other side. The bar owner. The guy who says, "No one tells me what to do in my place of business" and so forth. Of course, that's ridiculous. OSHA tells you what to do. And the Americans with Disabilities Act tells you what to do, like putting in a wheelchair ramp.

And then there's that whole "We reserve the right to refuse service" thing.

Really? You do?

Well, certainly not to black people.

When businesses reserved the right to refuse to serve black people it worked out really badly for everyone. Fortunately the government stepped in and told a lot of business owners exactly what to do in their place of business, and we are all the richer for it. (Unless you're a man trying to get into a woman-only gym, or a thirty-year-old trying to get half-price pancakes.)

Now that I think about it, it's actually pretty hard for me to think of a circumstance where someone could simply
refuse service to someone, just like that, and be within his rights. They tried that with Sylvester Stallone in the first Rambo movie just because of his long hair... that went all to shit.

None of this has any point... It's just all to say, don't believe anything as absolute. And just because a sign says something -- like "we reserve the right" -- doesn't mean it's true or legal.

Oh, and when the ticket stub says the dry cleaner isn't responsible for damage done to your item while under their care? Well, that's just ridiculous. As long as I have a golf club and two strong arms, they're responsible.


Jenn said...

well, as much as i respect your idea... i think banning kids from restraunts is the dumbest idea i've heard all day. mostly because some parents kinda have to bring there kids with them. Where are they going to go? sit outside? They could choose another restraunt. is that right to make little Susies mom drive a mile out of her way to get a coffe? Is that right? What about gas? And I dont kno, mabye the kids get cheapher meals because there SMALLER? And what about respect for elders? And if i was working at a store i would WANT to put a wheel chair ramp there no one should have to MAKE someone put up a ramp. not putting one up is like saying, "OH? You want to come in too? Well that sucks!"

Anonymous said...

Adult only restaurants would be swell -- if only to calm the whining "adults". Just yesterday my husband and I went out to a late lunch at Mimi's Cafe with our 1 year old. As we were being seated, a 20 something girl in the booth next to us made it a point to say rather loudly how much she hated kids... So when my baby got a little fussy with the speed at which I was feeding him and started yelling, I let it go on for a while just to piss her off :)