When I’m in New York, I like to hang out and write at Jack’s, a coffee place in the West Village with a patina that suggests long afternoons of sipping lattes and tapping on laptops. The overall look is shades of brown, like paper bags and coffee.
Jack’s is so small it has no bathroom. The other day, I had to pee, so I walked up the block and stopped at the first restaurant, a dark Villagey place called Low Country, another brownish space, where I was greeted by–as you can see from his picture–a fit, attractive bald man with smooth, mahogany-colored skin, wearing a dark t-shirt and black blazer.
With a dip of my right eyebrow, a sort of pity look, I asked “Would it be okay if I used the bathroom?” in the way that, when I was in my twenties, got me anything I wanted.
The man responded with a broad white-toothed smile, “Of course.”
In the bathroom, which was papered with pages from a Faulkner paperback, I began thinking about all the kind restaurant hosts who have welcomed me into their bathrooms.
And one who didn’t. It was a few years ago in D.C., up the block from the White House, a mediocre wannabe kind of place with white linen on the tables, where the maitre d’ rejected me. Admittedly, I was mid-bike ride in shorts and sneakers and with sweaty helmet hair.
I then crossed the street to the Bombay Club, an upscale restaurant with fine Indian food, a favorite of the Clintons and some of Washington’s elite journalists.
The maitre d’ welcomed me warmly and led me to the rest rooms. When I returned to thank him, he walked me into the bar and told the bartender to give me a drink.
I must have look pretty pathetic. When I left, I over-thanked him and mentioned, to show I wasn’t just a bathroom moocher, that I had eaten there and that I would be back. The afterglow of his kindness lasts to this day.
Back to Low Country. On the way upstairs from the Faulkner bathroom, I decided to tell the host how much I appreciated his hospitality.
He again graced me with his sparkly smile and introduced himself. We began talking and I told him I was a writer and that I blog, and he said he had recently started blogging. We exchanged cards.
The following day he emailed me:
|Susan,It’s your new friend Chad from Low Country. Your blog looks really funny! I can’t wait to read some, especially religion.
It was nice meeting and chatting. Let’s meet for lunch sometime and share life. I love meeting new interesting people.
Cheers and make today an amazing day!
He wasn’t hitting on me; he is somewhere around half my age of 65.
Chad and I are different. He’s writing to help people in Chad and Sudan, and my blog is a platform for my white girl worries, which I mentioned when I gave him my card. As for religion, he’s a believer and I get nightmares about the 23rd Psalm.
But back at Jack’s I was sitting on the bench outside when Chad came along to unlock his bicycle, which was parked right next to mine (technically my ex-husband’s that I borrow when I’m in New York).
I’m a schmoozer and a reacher-outer and I love the way Chad wrote “I love meeting new [ahem] interesting people,” expressing his wish to get together. I am going to use that next time I email a maitre d’ or someone else I’m eager to know better.
How do you reach out?
What are your experiences with using restrooms in restaurants where you are not a patron?
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