I Can Handle This

I Can Handle This


Usually, I do anything possible to escape crowds. Ever since I was a kid I never liked having large amounts of people around me. I’ll take sitting with a handful of people in a dive bar over a loud crowded night club anytime.

July 4th is Independence Day for the rest of you. For me it’s my anniversary. My wife suggested we get a room and spend the day downtown Pittsburgh and then watch the fireworks. Ordinarily, I would have been hesitant to subject myself to so many people.

This year was different. After what we’ve experienced the last 18 months, I wanted a sense of normalcy. Normal for me is being aggravated by people. I’ve missed that for the last year and a half. It was time to get back to it.

If we wanted to social distance, we could have gone to the Pirates game. From the parts of the stadium I could see from the window of our hotel, it looked like everybody could have their own section.

They’re back at full capacity and it was a holiday…and nobody went. That’s what happens when the owner shovels all of the profits into his own pockets rather than invest in the team.

This really has nothing to do with the article. I just enjoy taking shots at tightwad owner, Bob Ka-Ching Nutting.

We went out for lunch and then stopped in the hotel lounge for a beverage. The bartender informed us it was the first day they were open since before the pandemic. He also told us they were having trouble finding help.

An older waiter with an accent added,

“Nobody wants to work.”

Remember that for the next part of the story.

We headed out for dinner around 6:45. At the first spot we arrived we were told,

“Just letting you know, it’s a two and a half hour wait.”

Since the fireworks were at 9:30, I wanted to ask,

“How many people fought the traffic to get here, are paying 30 bucks to park and then are going to watch the fireworks on TV while they eat here?”

I’ll give you odds there were at least 10. Up the street, Primanti’s had a line around the block. I made a quick decision to head back to the hotel lounge before everybody realized that was their only option.

When we walked in, all ten tables were empty but, also had plates and glasses. I approached the older waiter with the accent.

“Can we get a table?”

“You can a sit wherever you want. We gotta nobody to clean.”

Then he walked away. I noticed two seats open up at the bar and we grabbed them.

“Can we get some food?”

“Of course.”

He handed us menus, took our drink order, took our food order. This guy was on the ball. Meanwhile a line was forming behind us with people wanting to get drinks and food to go. There was another female bartender who had her back turned pretending to be interested in whatever was on television.

The bartender who took our order was handling every order, also busing tables and going into the kitchen to get each order. This while his associate pretended to not see us. Oh, and I should mention the old waiter with the accent was leaning at the bar trying to bend the bartender’s ear about how they were short staffed.

Yeah, nobody wants to work and you’re proving it.

The fireworks were great and as we got back to the hotel, there was a line waiting to get on the elevators. Eighteen months ago this would have made me insane. It was just good to see people acting normal again and crowding into elevators.

Standing in line I observed a transaction being made between a delivery guy who was getting stiffed by the person that ordered and a guy taking advantage of the situation. He paid the price for the full order even though he only wanted the pizza and not the wings. He had kids with him and said,

“The kids are hungry and an opportunity presented itself.”

It was too nice of a night to sit in the room. I grabbed a cigar and we took a couple of beers and headed downstairs.

As we walked outside, there was a drunken guy smoking a cigarette.

“Where the hell’s my pizza and wings? They were supposed to be here half hour ago.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him. Actually, I enjoyed watching his agony. It’s great being back to normal.

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