Follow The Rules

The restaurant at which I’m employed sits directly at the mouth of the Anclote River, where it meets the Gulf of Mexico. We have a small dock, which grants boaters access to our establishment. This time of year, in particular, boaters are a real treat. They’re typically irreparably sunburnt, covered in mosquito bites and alarmingly dehydrated, due to excessive beer consumption in 95 degree heat. Since we are the only bar or restaurant directly on the water in the area, their desire for food or drink leaves them no choice but to grace us with their mean, tired and sweaty presence.

Several nights ago, I was working on the left; fairly easy section, with bar and food window adjacency. Around sunset, I looked out across the horizon at a Grady White fishing boat heading our way. The boat docked and out hopped a thirty-something year-old couple and their two adolescent sons. They sat at table 2, meaning they were all mine.

I approached the table, but before I could start into my generic server intro, I noticed that mom and dad were each holding a bottle of Coors Light, neither of which were bestowed upon them by me.

“Hey, guys, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you can’t bring your own drinks in here,” I politely told the couple.

“No, we came from a boat,” the husband contended.

I still don’t really understand the point he was trying to make.

“Look, I’m really sorry, but it’s not my rule. I wish I could let it slide, but my boss would kill me if she found out,” I replied, still attempting to be the messenger, who shouldn’t be killed.

“Nah, this is bullshit. We came from a boat. It’s what we do. What, you don’t want my money? I came here to spend money, man,” he fired back in a raised voice.

“Well, you’re not spending money if you’re bringing your own drinks in here,” I responded, beginning to lose my server’s smile.

“What’s your name?”



“No, Cullen. C-U-L-L-E-N.”

“Yeah? Well you can go fuck yourself, Colin,” the gentleman barked at me, as he stood up and poured his Coors all over the floor, splashing the ankles of patrons on his way back to his boat.

As his family trailed behind him, one of his sons, who was about eleven years old, stopped and apologized to me for his father’s behavior. I told the kid not to sweat it and to have a good evening.

The hurled obscenity didn’t offend me as much as the concept of having to tell a grown man that he isn’t following the rules. Perhaps he and I are on vastly different planes, but common sense would tell me that I shouldn’t bring my own beverage to a restaurant, let alone argue about my patronage in the process. We’re an outdoor venue, but we’re not a free-for-all. Similarly, I’ve had to tell grown adults that they aren’t allowed to bring their own chairs and tables to the restaurant when we’re full to capacity. It makes me wonder what these people do for a living, and how they treat other people they encounter in their daily lives.

When asked about his thoughts on Western civilization, Mahatma Gandhi said he thought “it would be a very good idea.”

Just like you learned in kindergarten, follow the fucking rules. You never know who’s writing about you.

Stay tuned for more.


2 thoughts on “Follow The Rules

  1. It is an unfortunate but all too embedded idea in our society that money “trumps” (political pun intended) any and all considerations of common courtesy, virtue, or even human dignity.
    It is this same sense of monied entitlement which creates a culture in which large numbers of people are treated as little more than slave laborers. Rules are for those without sufficient cash to circumvent the “system”, and are treated with disdain by those used to bartering integrity for cash.
    It is one thing to create this group of plebeians from undocumented immigrants, a group we can all agree deserve no considerations. (sarcasm intended). The same principle, however, has recently expanded to disregard for anyone not in your caste or tribe.
    While this attitude was formerly confined to politicians, their toadies, and financiers, it has sadly spread to middle management types and higher paid beurocrats.
    I suppose the best the rest of us can do is hope that karma works and pray that the malignancy of that mindset doesn’t find it’s way into our own behavior.


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