When do you say something and stand up for what you think is right, and when do you just eat it and shut up? This is an art I have not mastered. This character flaw played out in a lounge in Manila.
It was around 8 am one morning when I entered a mostly full lounge. It was small in size and the seating relatively close. I was fortunate to score a seat at the last open table with two empty seats. I sat in one chair and placed my backpack on the other.
I grabbed a coffee and placed it on the table and shortly after a Filipino entered the lounge. Seeing there were few seats left even at occupied tables, I moved my backpack from the chair as a gesture of invitation. He quickly seized on the opportunity and joined me without word.
Then it began.
He immediately took out his phone and entered into a conversation at a fairly loud and animated talking volume. The small lounge had been quiet to this point and his actions stood out as obnoxious (at least to me), but I endured in silence.
After he ended his call he started on the breakfast buffet. He continued to bring food to the table until he completely filled it, save for the small area where my cup sit. So much for sharing! Then he began to eat, making these piggy sounds as he devoured the feast.
I sat annoyed, but in silence. I realize we live in a society and we all have to endure what we view as nuisances …. to a point.
When he finished his breakfast he proceeded to the refrigerator of beverages. He removed four beers and returned to the table. As he approached I was stunned he was going to drink four beers at a sitting at 8:00 am. But it wasn’t long before I realized that he was going to put them all in his backpack for later consumption.
At this point I was sufficiently moved to rectify what I perceived to be an egregious act of thievery. As he placed the first beer in the sack I spoke up, “I don’t think you’re suppose to do that!” To which he replied, “What am I supposed to do with them?”
How do you respond to that? I responded with the obvious, “Drink them here or put them back is what most people would do!” To which he simply shrugged and continued his less than stealthy dishonest act.
Well, as I mentioned, the lounge was small and quiet other than this man. Now I had engaged him confrontationally so it caught the attention of nearly everyone in the lounge. With all eyes on us, and with his open defiance as well as my aggregated aggravation, I acted.
I approached the reception desk where a lone lady attended. She was on the phone at the time so was not knowledgeable of the unfolding conflict. When she hung up I asked her, with all eyes and ears in attendance, “Is it ok if we fill up our backpacks with beer and take them from the lounge?”
There, I’d done it. I snitched him out. I was sure of the next steps. Naturally she was going to thank me for service and compliment me on my integrity. Then we would walk back to that table, hand in hand, and really give it to the ogre. And if he refused to be sufficiently contrite, we would then pull down his little panties and take turns spanking his Moreno hind end, as the crowd cheered us on! Yes!
If only the world played out like it does in my mind. Instead she responded, “We don’t have a policy against it.”
Policy? What? Who needs a policy for this? Are the Philippines such a strange and foreign land? Is purloining accepted here? I stood humiliated. I felt like my own caboose had been publicly displayed for all to slap. I just wanted to skulk out of the lounge through the nearby door. But I had no exit strategy. I had left my backpack at the table!
So I had to take the walk of shame back to the table to get it. All the while enduring the stares of the silent majority as well as the gloating stare of my table mate. I defeatedly picked up my backpack and left the lounge. He won. He not only got his beers, but my table as well.
As I walked down the corridor to my gate something dawned on me. When I asked the lady if we could fill our backpacks with beer and exit the lounge, she probably thought I was talking about me. She likely thought I went back to get my backpack of beers and exited. The morning just kept getting worse!
I wish I could say “live and learn” but I know I would likely do it the same way in the future. How can lounges possibly stay open at current prices if this unknown lounge privilege became public knowledge?